In a memorable episode of The Big Valley (TV 1965-1969), Heath (Lee Majors) is shaken when a stranger by the name of Charlie Sawyer (Buddy Hackett) comes to the ranch of Victoria Barcley (Barbara Stanwick) and claim’s to be Heath’s father. Charlie has a marriage certificate showing that he was once married to Victoria.
Years earlier, Heath had shown up at the Barcley ranch claiming to be the son of an extra-marital affair between Victoria’s deceased husband, Tom Barcley, and Heath’s mother. Victoria accepted his story, loved him like her other boys, and always called him “my son”.)
But this time, when Heath returns believing he is the son of Sawyer and can no longer claim his chair at the Barcley table, Victoria won’t hear of it. When she hears Heath say he can no longer take charity, she explodes,
“Charity!? Heath Barcley, I never heard of anything so ridiculous. Charity!? Why you’re as much a Barcley as I am.’ (Up close and with a finger in Heath’s face) ‘Now you listen to me. This family… and that includes you…this family stands together. If we’re not tied by blood, then we are tied by sacrifice, work, and love…I will not have that old history raked up again. It’s done. Over with. Finished….You can leave me… But it won’t change a thing. Because no matter where you go, no matter what you do, no matter what you call yourself, you’ll still be a Barcley.’”
While the details don’t necessarily line up (and without video and audio the words may not be that compelling), but this old television moment sticks in my mind as a reminder of how important it is to remember who we are, who loves us, calls us family, even when we are confused, feeling unworthy, and packing up to leave.