Andy died today at the age of 86. Even though it's sad that he has left us, just hearing his name brings many good memories to mind. Some of us can even remember him before his television show, when he was in a couple of movies and had a standup comedy act.
His TV show was one of those great and wonderful things that happen when everything is just right – the actors, the stories, the location, the time that it took place. It all came together each week to bring us laughter, sometimes sadness, and always an uplifting ending.
My favorite (although I admit it's hard to pick one) is when Opie told his pa that he had met Mr. McBeevee in the woods, and that he walked in the trees and wore a big silver hat. Andy at first thought that Opie's imagination had created a new friend for himself. Things changed when Opie showed up with a hatchet and then a quarter that he said Mr. McBeevee had given to him. Opie would not be swayed – Mr. McBeevee was a real person and he had given these things to Opie. Andy tried to give him the benefit of the doubt and took him out in the woods to find Mr. McBeevee. He was not to be found.
With a heavy heart, Andy decided if Opie would not admit to making Mr. McBeevee up, he was going to have to give him a whipping. All Opie had to do was say that Mr. McBeevee was just make believe, and nothing more would be said about it.
Poor Opie! Here's the person that he loves more than any other, the person he looks up to and respects more than any other – and that person is asking him for something he cannot give.
Andy told him to tell the truth and say that is was make believe. And Opie couldn't do it. He couldn't lie to his dad, even though he knew that's what his dad wanted to hear.
He said, "I can't, Pa. Mr. McBeevee isn't make believe, he's real. Don't you believe me, Pa? Don't you, Pa?"
"I believe you," Andy answered and later explained to Barney and Aunt Bea that "It's a time like this when you're asked to believe something that just don't seem possible, that's a moment that decides whether you have faith in someone or not. I do believe in Opie."
In the next scene we watched as Andy accidentally encountered the real-life Mr. McBeevee and was utterly overjoyed! His well-placed faith in Opie revealed a wonderful jewel: His son had done exactly the right thing, even in the face of very strong opposition. Happy ending all around!
So who are you in this story? Are you Andy, just trying to raise your son right and trying not to freak out when it appears he's gone astray?
Are you Opie, knowingly breaking your father's heart by doing the right thing?
Or maybe you're Mr. McBeevee, taking the time to befriend a young boy in the middle of your work day.
I want to be all three: I want the quiet strength of Andy, the unwavering courage of Opie, and the happy ways of Mr. McBeevee.So I'll ask again: What is your favorite Andy Griffith Show episode and why?