I found out last night that actor Ralph Waite has passed away. He was 85 years old. I wish I would mourn for him, but I never really knew him.
By default, I found out of the death of a man I greatly admired. His name was John Walton--he was the father of seven children, a very hard worker, honest, and shrewd. He would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it.
And yes, I know that John Walton is not a real person. Only a character.
But that doesn't make my sadness any less real. John Walton--and his parents, his wife and children--has been a neighbor to my family for three generations. Every Thursday evening--or more correctly, every evening--we felt invited into the Walton home. We got to know these television characters and it was almost as if they were our next door neighbors.
Anyone who is reading this knows--or should know--that I am not lacking for a good father figure. My own dad is absolutely amazing and has helped me to grow into the man that I am today. I didn't attach myself to the Waltons out of lack of a good home life. I attached myself to them because they felt real. Anymore on television programs we have characters who are caricatures of real people, but on The Waltons we had real people.
We had a grandfather who loved nature. He loved life and wanted to share those feelings with his family. He was devoted to his family and to his friends
We had a grandmother who was very practical and hardworking. She wouldn't so much say that she loved you, but by her actions you would know it. She once said that all she had to give were old stories--but she really gave so much more.
We had a father who worked terribly long hours to provide for his loved ones. He had a short temper at times--but he was never cruel. He was frustrated by the Depression. His skills were great, but he still struggled to make ends meet.
We had a mother who worked tirelessly to keep the house in order. She cooked, cleaned, washed and ironed, helped with homework, listened to dreams and stories, helped with homework, mended socks, and so much more. But she wasn't superwoman. She was just someone dedicated to her family.
And we had seven brothers and sisters. They all were special in their own way. We had the budding author, the musician, the tomboy nurse who grew to be a wonderful young lady. We had the hotheaded son who was so much like his father, the middle girl who didn't know what she wanted to do with her life, but she found her niche and was so successful. We had the tinkerer (who also provided comic relief) and we had the youngest who grew to be more like her grandfather every day.
I could go on and on about these people, but I think I have said what I intended. The Walton family has been real to my family--and probably to yours--since it went on the air. They have been more than just pure entertainment. They were the ones who invited us over every week. And we got to know them and we found them to be dear friends.
Goodnight, Mr. Walton. Goodnight, Grandpa and Grandma. Goodnight Ike. Goodnight, Sheriff. Goodnight Mrs. Brimmer. Goodnight, Miss Mamie and Miss Emily. For your lives the world has been a little brighter.
I'm a Classical musician, a growing Christian, and a world traveler. I'm learning, exploring, and trying to understand this wonderful world I live in.