Early Thursday afternoon, Earl Hamner, Jr. died. If you’re wondering who the heck that might have been, then you, my friend, probably weren’t glued to the television in the early ’70s, watching The Waltons.
I, on the other hand, was soaking up as much of The Waltons as I could get. I loved the narration, provided by Mr. Hamner himself. I loved the grandparents. My own depression-era great-grandparents were living representations of those poor, TV mountain people. But for me, the show’s appeal was more than that. The family shown on The Waltons was a dream. They were good, decent people. Good, decent parents. I loved “John” and “Liv.” They showed me what parents could be. And they gave me hope. Thanks to them, I learned a lot about choosing what sort of person I wanted to be. And I learned, through watching that program, that I didn’t have to become anything less, regardless of what I saw in my own real-life family.
According to all the reports I’ve read, Mr. Hamner was surrounded by loved ones and listening to his favorite music (John Denver’s “Rocky Mountain High”) when he took his final breath. It sounds so simple, and yet so perfect. We should all be so lucky as to have a long, love-filled life.
Goodnight, Mr. Hamner.