Writer: Kathleen Hite.
Director: Harry Harris.
Music: Alexander Courage.
"My parents were used to being together, my father's work kept him close to home when we were a young family so there were always times in the day to share a smile or a touch or a special look between them. Now those times were nearly gone. Work took my father away from home more often and for longer periods of time. The separations were hard on them both".
John is forced to work away from the family for extended periods of time as orders pile up from Matt Sarver. Olivia is concerned about his health from the strenuous hours demanded at the job. Olivia’s worry is also complicating her own health. As Grandma teaches Elizabeth how to cook, Mary Ellen sorts clothes and Jim Bob complains how his girlfriend Tanya is always trying to change him. That night while Olivia waits on the front porch for John to return, Jim Bob drives up. He is carrying an accordion that Zuleika Dunbar gave him after clearing her attic. Jim Bob is determined to learn how to play it in order to prove he can do something besides fix machinery. Erin tells her mother not to worry but notices how hot her hands feel. Olivia blames it on ‘just hot hands’. But, in her bedroom, Olivia realizes something is not right.
In the morning, John returns at the crack of dawn. He wakes up Olivia as he makes noise while preparing the coffee. She rushes downstairs to greet him. John has all sorts of things to tell her but is too tired to remember what they are. Later in the morning, Mary Ellen sees her mother sitting outside and wonders what is wrong. Olivia asks her daughter if she knows of a good doctor in Charlottesville. She wants John to see a doctor. After John sleeps for a couple of hours Jason and he talk over a cup of coffee. Jason realizes his parents are not comfortable apart so suggests that he take her with him on his next trip.
The family sees their parents off as they travel to Charlottesville. After John completes his business, he discovers Olivia in a dress shop. He suggests that casual wear would be appropriate for the surprise trip to Virginia Beach. John is embarrassed, however, when the sales woman begins to undress the mannequin.
After eating a sparse supper in their hotel room John kisses Olivia’s forehead to find it hot. Olivia suggests that they first go to Alberene to visit Dr. Caldwell, Aunt Kate’s physician. John says they both must go. She agrees. After John’s examination he tells Aunt Kate that the doctor said he is fine but should not act like a twenty-year old. After Olivia’s visit the doctor reports she is fine but that he performed some precautionary tests. As John and Olivia leave Aunt Kate and Dr. Caldwell exchange worried looks.
At Virginia Beach John fishes from the surf while Olivia collects various seashells. They run on the beach but, all of a sudden, Olivia cannot catch her breath. She decides to lay down while John returns to fishing.
At home, Ike and Corabeth drive up in their motorcycle and sidecar to bring food to a family they think is starving without Olivia’s cooking. Corabeth presents her Cousin Sue Ellen’s Savory Stew but is surprised to learn that her cousin also gave the recipe to John’s side of the family. In the barn, where Jim Bob has been forced to practice his accordion, he admits to Jason that he would like to learn to play a romantic song for Tanya. Jason agrees to help him learn a simple tune. Inside the house Elizabeth realizes why her sponge cake has not turned out quite right. Grandma’s secret recipe is a touch of the Baldwin ladies’ Recipe. Elizabeth must promise she will not divulge the secret.
John and Olivia return home with John tanned and rested. But Mary Ellen notices that her mother has lost weight and is still looking tired. While unpacking they see Aunt Kate unexpectedly drive up to the house. When John arrives to greet Kate she tells Olivia and John that Dr. Caldwell’s tests show the early stage of tuberculosis. Olivia is stunned by the news. She is even more shocked to learn it will be necessary for her to stay in a sanatorium located near Alberene in order to receive proper rest, quiet, and medicine. Olivia runs out of the house as the children wonder what is wrong. John and Aunt Kate tell the children the bad news. John comforts Olivia as she stares off toward the hills. The planned picnic is still held but the talk around the table is forced. Olivia reassures the family that even though she is leaving in the morning she is comforted to know that Grandma and John will be taken care of while she is gone. Jim Bob presents her with a going-away present as he plays Beautiful Dreamer on his accordion.
In the morning, Olivia prepares to leave with a sad family staring on. She says there will be no good-byes, but to imagine it is just like any morning with her off to Ike’s for groceries. Jim Bob can not hold back and hugs his mother. Elizabeth, Erin, Ben, Mary Ellen, Jason, and Grandma follow with hugs. On a cloudy morning with lightly falling rain, John watches Aunt Kate drive Olivia off to an uncertain time apart.
"It was a sad day, the first of many long lonely days for our father and for all the family. But eventually the time did pass and my mother was cured of her frightening illness. Not surprisingly she endured it all with great courage, and whenever one of us would falter and feel sorry for ourselves we could always recall Mama's voice saying - Now, none of that, I won't have it!"
John: Yes, Elizabeth?
Elizabeth: When Mama's with Aunt Kate, she's not too far from the shore is she?
John: No, just a nice drive.
Elizabeth: I hope you'll take me, next time. I keep listening to the Conch Shell. I've heard the ocean a lot, I'd just love to see it again.
John: Some fine day Honey we'll do that. Goodnight everybody!
Everybody: Goodnight Daddy!
The name of Matt Sarver’s company is Matt Sarver Construction Company.
This is the final episode this season that Michael Learned will regularly appear as Olivia Walton. Miss. Learned will reprise her role beginning with The Home Front (season eight, episode one).
Aunt Kate first appeared in The Milestone (season six, episode twelve). In that episode actress Louise Latham plays her. Neva Patterson is the second actress to play Aunt Kate.
Dr. Caldwell is mentioned in The Milestone, but never appeared.
Lyrics to “Beautiful Dreamer” appears at: http://freepages.music.rootsweb.com/~edgmon/stbeautiful.htm
Ike Godsey (Joe Conley); Corabeth Godsey (Ronnie Claire Edwards); Aunt Kate Grover Daly (Neva Patterson); Dr. C.W. Caldwell (Booth Colman); Sales Lady (Barbara Tarbuck).