What We Can Learn About Friendship from Goober
Actor George Lindsey, who portrayed one of television’s most enduring, if most annoying, characters, Goober Pyle, passed away over the weekend.
Lindsey’s Goober was a fixture on The Andy Griffith Show for years, and he continued with the spinoff series, Mayberry R.F.D.. He also appeared for many years on Hee Haw. But his association with Andy Griffith is surely what brought him the most fame over the decades.
Lindsey auditioned for a different role on the series, that of filling station attendant Gomer Pyle, but lost out to Jim Nabors. When Nabors became popular enough that he could leave Mayberry for his own series, Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C., the powers that be over at the Griffith show hired Lindsay as Gomer’s cousin who appeared shortly before Gomer’s marching orders led him to his Quonset hut.
Lindsey was 83 when he died following a brief illness. His longtime friend, Griffith, now 85, spoke fondly of him, and ended with this:
“Our last conversation was a few days ago….I am happy to say that as we found ourselves in our eighties, we were not afraid to say, ‘I love you.’ That was the last thing George and I had to say to each other. ‘I love you.’”
It’s hard for many people to be able to say “I love you” to a close friend. It’s especially hard for men to do it, out of some irrational fear that they’re going to have to lose “macho points” if they do so. I suppose that once you reach your eighties, you aren’t all that concerned about what people think, and you feel more at ease to tell it like it is. It’s a shame that it takes so long.
The absence of such words can leave people feeling undervalued. I can think of few things worse a close friend doubting his worth if three simple words would have prevented that. I don’t see that as a sign of weakness: I see it as simply being human.
I am blessed to have a friendship where the two of us can tell each other — and do — that we love each other. It’s one thing to convey that sentiment by how we treat each other. But to be able to actually say the words means a level of freedom and openness that far too few people share.
I hope you have that kind of friendship with someone. I can tell you from experience: it can change your life.