James Garner is dead. This saddens me. Not because I will miss him, I rarely think about him unless an old episode of Rockford Files or Maverick happens to be showing on TV. It saddens me because an era is at its end. The golden age of television. Within the last few years, the stars of the TV shows I watched as a youngster have been relocated several feet below soil. All of the Nelsons are gone, Ozzie, Harriet, Ricky and David. Every actor and actress of I Love Lucy has succumbed to oxygen depletion. The entire Bonanza family is all gone. So are other western heroes such as Gunsmoke's James Arness and Dennis Weaver. Have Gun no longer Travels after the mortal departure of Richard Boone. Although Wagon Train only lost half of its acting staff, the ones left alive are in their mid-eighties. Both of the Beaver's parents are pushing daisies (and Lumpy and his dad are right there with them). Jethro and Ellie May may still be kicking but Jed, Granny, Mr. and Mrs. Drysdale and Miss Jane are kickless. Gilligan's Island is now a cemetary being tended by the Ginger and Mary-Jane. (Anyone else ever wonder why Ginger brought so many changes of clothes for a three hour trip?)
Basically, I cannot think of single show I watched as a child that still has the entire cast above ground. I shall list many of my old favorites and tell me if I am wrong. These are the comedies: Green Acres, Petticoat Junction, Beverly Hillbillies, Bewitched, I Dream of Jeanie, Get Smart, Hogan's Heroes, Gomer Pyle, The Andy Griffith Show, Laugh-In, The Smother Brothers, Red Skelton, Dick Van Dyke, Jackie Gleason,The Odd Couple. These are the dramas: Perry Mason, Route 66, Alias Smith and Jones, Wild Wild West, 77 Sunset Strip, Star Trek, Laramie, Rawhide, Alfred Hitchcock, Twilight Zone, The Man From Uncle, The Fugitive... and Maverick.
James Garner is dead and this saddens me. The reason is because I am now closer to that age group which this planet refuses continued habitation. The weekly episodes of Rockford feels as if it were not that long ago. Today, I am older than when Garner portrayed him. This brings to mind one of my favorite adages; Life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer to the end, the faster it goes.
I have taken this writing in a complete different direction than I originally intended. The idea that was in my head when I began, was to question the phrase "Rest In Peace." James Garner is dead and countless condolences contain the words "Rest In Peace" or simple "RIP". What puzzles me is the meaning of the word rest. Rest can mean a period of respite, which in turn implies that Jimmy Garner, after an indeterminate period of rest, will resume the stage and entertain us again. Or rest may refer to the remainder, such as the rest of time. Do people want James Garner's corpse to go undisturbed until the end of eternity. This is highly unlikely. Decay will occur. And what if he's cremated? Being transformed into a pile of ash does seem a very peaceful way to rest for the rest of evermore.
I understand the phrase "Rest In Peace" seems a proper way to bid farewell. But only if you're planning a nights sleep. "Hey, I'm going to bed now." "Okay, rest in peace." This is correct because I am only taking a temporary leave from my rigorous active life. From rest will I return. If I was dead, people wishing for me to rest in peace are wasting their wishes. I will not rise from dead in the future and say, "Now that was a nice little rest."
Okay, I'm done writing for now. Until my next endeavor being a wordsmith, I shall rest in peace.