This Big Bird Story From Caroll Spinney's AMA on Reddit Is Guaranteed to Make You Cry
For most people who've grown up since Sesame Street first went on the air in 1969, Big Bird is an iconic part of out childhoods. Which is why a story shared by Big Bird puppeteer Caroll Spinney on Reddit is probably going to make you cry. Seriously, if you're not in the mood for a tear jerker, turn back now.
Even if you've never heard of Caroll Spinney, you are definitely a fan of his work. He's the man who has brought both Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch to life on Sesame Street for the past 46 years. Between the two characters, his voice has been in a total of 217 episodes of the show. Basically, he's largely responsible for your childhood. So naturally, when he decided to do an AMA or "Ask Me Anything" session on Reddit, people had lots of questions.
Spinney's answers were all pretty great, from telling the story of when one of Big Bird's pupils came off his eye during an appearance a small TV station in Georgia to how he managed when Big Bird and Oscar were in a scene together to talking about why the show started letting everyone see Snuffleupagus, not just Big Bird.
But the most powerful answer came when a fan asked about Spinney's most meaningful interaction with a child. Here is what he said.
Okay, here's one.
I got a letter from a fan who said his little boy, who was 5 years old, his name was Joey, he was dying of cancer.
And he was so ill, the little boy knew he was dying.
So the man, in his letter, asked if I would call the little boy. He said the only thing that cheered him at all in his fading state was to see Big Bird on television.
So once in a while, he wouldn't see Big Bird on some days, because he wasn't necessarily in every show. So he asked could I telephone him, and talk to the boy, tell him what a good boy he's been.
So I took a while to look up a phone, because this was before cell phones. And they got a long cord to bring a phone to the boy.
And I had Big Bird say "Hello! Hello Joey! It's me, Big Bird!"
So he said "Is it really you, Big Bird?"
"Yes, it is."
I chatted a while with him, about ten minutes, and he said "I'm glad you're my friend Big Bird."
And I said "I'd better let you go now."
He said "Thank you for calling me Big Bird. You're my friend. You make me happy."
And it turns out that his father and mother were sitting with him when the phone call came. And he was very, very ill that day. And they called the parents in, because they weren't sure how long he'd last.
And so his father wrote to me right away, and said "Thank you, thank you" - he hadn't seen him smile since October, and this was in March - and when the phone was hung up, he said "Big Bird called me! He's my friend."
And he closed his eyes. And he passed away.
And I could see that what I say to children can be very important.
And he said "We haven't seen our little boy smile in MONTHS. He smiled, as he passed away. It was a gift to us. Thank you."
You can find more of Spinney's answers (none of which are nearly as sad and all of which validate you childhood love of Big Bird) on his AMA thread here.
And you can find a more upbeat reminder of your childhood with this video of Big Bird learning about the alphabet.
Images: Giphy (3)