‘The Waltons’: Judy Norton Opens Up About Her Emotional Moment With ‘Grandpa and Grandma’ in ‘The Vigil’ Episode

by Katie Maloney
(Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)

Get your tissues ready for this scene from “The Waltons” with Mary Ellen and her grandparents.

Who didn’t want to be a member of “The Waltons” family? Viewers’ love for the family dynamic was a big part of the show’s success. Even during the family’s most difficult times, they found ways to forgive, grow closer, and move forward. The season five episode titled “The Vigil” was the perfect example of this. This episode is an intense one. Grandma Walton starts to experience intense abdominal pain but doesn’t know why. At the time, Mary Ellen is working as a nurse and is engaged to Dr. Curtis Willard. Willard had previously talked to Mary Ellen about the symptoms of intestinal flu, so she believes that her grandmother is suffering from that illness. However, Mary Ellen’s diagnosis makes matters worse because her grandma isn’t suffering from the flu. Instead, Grandma Walton is battling appendicitis. The Waltons rush their grandma to the hospital and all Mary Ellen can do is wait and hope.

Judy Norton Talks About the ‘Beautiful’ Scene She Shared With Her Onscreen Grandparents.

During an episode of her video series, “Behind-the-Scenes With Judy Norton,” Norton talks about the episode.

“So theres’ a lot of intensity about this subplot when my character is just so devastated by relaxing that I have made this horrible mistake. And my grandma’s life is in serious danger. Luckily, most of us don’t have moments in our lives where we potentially feel responsible like that,” said Norton. “But Mary Ellen does own up to it and doesn’t try to brush it off or anything like that which I thought was really nice.”

While the family waits to hear back from the doctors, Mary Ellen and her grandfather go to the chapel to pray. While there, Mary Ellen asks for forgiveness for her mistake.

“I had a wonderful scene with Will Geer in the chapel where we go to pray for grandma. Where I ask for forgiveness of both grandpa and God,” said Walton.

The show offers a beautiful full-circle moment when Mary Ellen returns to her grandmother and is surprised to hear her grandma ask for Mary Ellen’s forgiveness.

“And a little later, I talk to grandma and finally face going in to talk with grandma,” said Norton. “To my surprise, she asks for my forgiveness for putting that responsibility on me. And expecting me, as just a nurse, to know what’s going on with her. So, just a beautiful scene and working with Ellen [Corby] for a moment like this was very special to me.”

Judy Norton talks about “The Vigil” episode of “The Waltons”