Jean Stapleton died this weekend. All the words in the all the languages couldn’t begin to describe the genius of her comedic timing and heartbreaking facial expressions as Edith Bunker on All in the Family. We could go on and on about the revolutionary, trailblazing, groundbreaking, toilet-flushing material the show tackled in its years, but Stapleton herself said it best:
“There’s nothing like humor to burst what seems to be an enormous problem. Humor reduces it to nothing and wipes it out. That’s what humor does. That was a great part of that show in terms of every issue.”
It’s an effort to stifle the bittersweet tears – Edith Bunker will always and forever remind me of Grandma Flo. They shared a genuine and rare form of kindness, a strong desire to feed any problem, and a default emotion of love. Creativity bubbled underneath the housewife apron, as daydreams of becoming a ballerina brought smiles of enjoyable fantasy instead of thoughts of resentment. Sure, life wasn’t always perfect, but to the rugged Depression-era generation, imperfection was life, and instinctively they knew how to survive it. They faced money troubles, worried about their children, and bickered with their husbands.
“Archie and me still have fights, but we don’t let ‘em go on too long. Somebody always says, ‘I’m sorry,’ and Archie always says, ‘That’s okay, Edith.’ And then we forget it!”
Jean Stapleton and Grandma Flo were a couple of pips, y’know that? A couple of real pips . . .