Little House on the Prairie

Season 1 Episode 6

If I Should Wake Before I Die

Aired Wednesday 12:00 AM Oct 23, 1974 on NBC
out of 10
User Rating
76 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

If I Should Wake Before I Die
Amy Hearn is an elderly Walnut Grove resident whose children don't seem to be trying hard enough to visit her. In an act of desperation, Amy decides that staging her own funeral is the only way to see them again, but it's a scam that she can't pull off by herself...moreless

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  • An interesting episode with both humourous and very sad moments intertwined.

    When the best friend of an elderly widow dies, she, at aged almost 80, is left alone to contemplate life and the fact that she never sees her children or grandchildren. She is not even sure if her beloved son survived the war or not.

    In order to gather her family around her, she enlists Charles's help in informing her children that she has died and that a wake is to be held. Everyone in Walnut Grove believes that she is died and an elaborate wake is planned. When her children arrive, as she knew they would she sets about putting her plan in motion and letting them know exactly what she thinks of them.

    They certainly got the dressing down that they deserved and Charles clearly had a good time as well!moreless
  • An elderly woman concocts a scheme to attend her own wake, in order to see her children who have neglected to visit her.

    The premise is interesting but I don't think it was executed properly. In fact, I found this episode not very touching and downright silly at times. Watch the scene with Charles explaining the plan to Caroline and her overreacting. It was an early episode and I think that Karen Grassle was still fleshing out Caroline's character and how she would respond to things. As for the 'moral of the story,' what exactly was it?

    The children were busted by Mom; they didn't come to any realizations on their own. She had to confront them first. And what kind of Mommy Dearest must she have been that all three of her kids didn't come around? There is no explanation for why there was the lack of visits, and maybe they came for the funeral to collect the moola, LOL. Why should I be touched about THAT?!moreless
  • Miss Amy's friend middie dies on the eve of her birthday party. At the funeral her family turns up, Laura mentions to Miss Amy that folk should have there funerals while they are still alive, And so with Miss Amy starts to plan her own wake her waymoreless

    If I should wake before I die, was my mums favourite episode of little house on the prairie, she passed away last October and we saw this episode again just a few months before, its very true you can always make excuses not to do things but funerals you always attend and the actions that miss Amy took although not ethical was the only way she would have seen her family again. There where many better episodes but this one will forever be in my heart and the best episode in the whole nine year run as far as I'm concernedmoreless
  • A good lesson for us all.

    Plans are underway for a special birthday celebration for one of the town's elderly residents. She is excited because her daughter is supposed to attend. However, a telegram (or letter) arrives stating (yet again) the daughter can't make it. The depression and grief lead to the old woman's death.

    As her friend realizes how many people show up for the funeral, and her own children never visit her either, she comes up with a plan to fake her death so she can see them before she, too, passes away for real. The few folks in on the ruse think it's a bad idea, but they aren't really given much choice.

    Dressed all in black, veil and all, she watches as one after another of her children arrive, each lamenting the fact they hadn't come to see mama sooner. Then "mama" throws back her veil and lights into each of them for it taking her "death" to bring them to town. One by one she shames them in a very tearful scene before expressing how much she loves and misses them.

    It shows us that life is so short and unpredictable. We need to find time for our loved ones. It also shows how lonely older people can be when they are forgotten. I found this episode to be heartwarming, touching, with a good lesson to boot.moreless
  • Will Miss Amy have the joy of reuniting with her family after all?

    Most of the episodes of Little House on the Prairie touch you in some way, and I think episode was simply heartwarming.

    Maddie and Miss Amy are two old friends who keep reminiscing about their children and their grandchildren. Their children never come to visit them, and Maddie hopes that her daughter Eliza will show up for her birthday party. When she receives a letter from Eliza, claiming that she would not be able to attend, Maddie passes away. Miss Amy notices Maddie’s children and grandchildren coming together at the funeral, and after talking to Mary and Laura, comes up with the idea to fake her death so that her children would come to see her before she really passed away. She convinces Charles and Dr. Baker to help her. They are skeptic at first, but get convinced and help her out. Will Miss Amy have the joy of reuniting with her family after all?

    This episode really put tears in my eyes in the end. The reunion is very touching, and your heart really goes out to Miss Amy and her family. Josephine Hutchinson acted beautifully as the lonely Miss Amy waiting for her family. There were, of course moments of humor, especially the way everyone fools Father Gorman into performing the funeral for Miss Amy, and making him think that the real Miss Amy is Miss O’Hara, a friend of the Ingalls.

    I rate this episode 10/10.moreless
Melissa Gilbert

Melissa Gilbert

Laura Elizabeth Ingalls/Wilder

Dabbs Greer

Dabbs Greer

Reverend Alden

Melissa Sue Anderson

Melissa Sue Anderson

Mary Amelia Ingalls/Kendall (1974 - 1981)

Kevin Hagen

Kevin Hagen

Dr. Hiram Baker

Richard Bull

Richard Bull

Nels Oleson

Karl Swenson

Karl Swenson

Mr. Lars Hanson (1974 - 1978)

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (3)

    • Miss Amy's autoharp is out of place here, since Oscar Schmidt Co. didn't invent it until the 1950's.

    • Amy Hearn is often mentioned through out the series, but this is the only episode that she appeared in.

    • Robin Muir, who plays Miss Amy's little granddaughter Maureen, appears again as Charles Ingalls' younger sister Polly in a flashback sequence in Season 4's I Remember, I Remember. Aside from a simple hello, though, she doesn't have any speaking lines in either episode.

  • QUOTES (8)

    • Sean: (when the family learns that Amy isn't really dead) Mother, what in the name of common sense?!?!
      Amy: I'll get to you later. Let me deal with this one first. You miserable, ungrateful boy! All these years, I'm thinking you're dead, killed in the Indian War or Stone River, or Shiloh! How could you do this to me? How could you forget your own mother? Fifteen years of hurt and worry, waiting for a letter from the war department, and not a move you make until you think I'm dead and gone. And you, Sean. I'm supposed to forgive you too, I suppose?
      Sean: Now, just a minute, Amy Hearn! You've got some explaining to do!
      Bridget: How could you do it? How could you let them tell us you were dead?
      Sean: You had no right, Mother!
      Amy: Rights? You're talking about rights? Whose rights? I've got a right to see my own children and grandchildren. It comes before anything else! And you ask how I could do it. Well, it isn't hard when you've tried everything else, when you're so hungry for the sight and feel of your family. You can't sleep at night thinking of them, and when it comes to you, the one thing that will bring them to you is your own wake...well, it isn't hard to do at all. Sean, I heard you say it. "Why is it," you said, "you have to wait until they're gone before you know what they mean to you"? Well, you mean everything to me, you three. (long pause) 80 years old, and I don't have many birthdays left. Maybe...maybe not even one. And when you think of that, you have to be foolish. (starts crying)

    • Laura: (in bed) Mary? Mary?
      Mary: What?
      Laura: How old do you want to live to be?
      Mary: Oh, I don't know. Let me sleep.
      Laura: I want to live forever.
      Mary: Well, you can't.
      Laura: Who said?
      Mary: God.
      Laura: God never told you that.
      Mary: Will you go to sleep?
      Laura: That's what it's like.
      Mary: That's what what's like?
      Laura: Going to sleep. When you go to sleep, it's like you're dead. (smiles) Night!

    • Doc Baker: You're asking me to wire your children and tell them you're dead!
      Amy: But you'd wire them if I was dead, wouldn't you?
      Doc Baker: Of course I would.
      Amy: Why, then? Why would you please my ghost instead of my flesh and blood?
      Charles: Well, Amy, it isn't that--
      Amy: In the name of Heaven, what is it? You're like my children. A dutiful letter once or twice a year. "Do you have money, Mother? Is there anything you want"? And I write them back, "All I'd like is you. When can you come and visit me"? And Andy marched off to war when he was 19, with a smile and a whistle and a last hug and kiss, and in 15 years, I've not had a word from him! They'll come to my funeral, because it's a sin not to. And they'll weep and say all the things I'll not be there to hear. And you, both of you. You're the same. You'd do for my corpse, but not for me.

    • Laura: (when the group is singing "Go Tell Aunt Rhodie") I don't like to sing about dying. It's sad.
      Maddie: There's nothing so sad about dying.
      Laura: I think it's sad.
      Maddie: Well, when you get as close to it as I am, it ain't sad. It's just like finishing a book or quilt, or maybe a long journey down the river and starting off somewhere else that may be more fun than where you were before.

    • Carrie: (about Maddie's funeral) What are they doing?
      Amy: They're saying good-bye, child.
      Laura: Well, what good does it do when she can't hear them? Why didn't they come to her birthday?
      Amy: You can miss a birthday, and nobody says much, but you can't miss a funeral.
      Mary: Why not?
      Amy: That's just the way grown-ups are.
      Laura: Hmm. It ought to be the other way around.
      Amy: A lot of things in this life ought to be the other way around.

    • Amy: Maddie will be 80 years old today.
      Doc Baker: Well, wish her a happy birthday for me......unless, of course, I'm invited, in which case I'll tell her myself.
      Amy: You're invited.
      Doc Baker: I'll be there.
      Charles: Oh, and it's a surprise.
      Doc Baker: I know. Maddie told me.

    • Caroline: You what?
      Charles: I told you, Caroline. Miss Amy's gonna die on Monday, and I'm handling her wake.
      Caroline: Charles, you're not serious!
      Charles: I know it's a little unusual.
      Caroline: Unusual?!?!? Unusual's not the word!

    • Doc Baker: (when Miss Amy wants to stage her own death) Amy, I've never put a woman—much less an 80-year-old woman—over my knee, but you're coming close to being the first!
      Miss Amy: Oh, come on, Doctor. Surely you understand.
      Doc Baker: I surely don't understand.
      Charles: I don't understand either, and I don't think it's funny, Amy!
      Miss Amy: It wasn't meant to be funny. It was meant, purely and simply, to bring my children and grandchildren back to me for the first time in more years than I'd like to count!

  • NOTES (3)