Big Bird actor made a dying boy's last day one of his happiest
For the generations who have grown up watching Sesame Street, Big Bird is one of the longest lasting, most-beloved characters.
Big Bird is the Street's ageless giant yellow bird.
The man inside the suit for the past 46 years has been puppeteer Caroll Spinney.
Spinney also provides the voice for Oscar the Grouch, the infamously rude and abrasive garbage can-dwelling character.
But for his huge yellow avatar, the popularity of Big Bird could be put down to the character's child-like sense of wonder and innate kindness.
Spinney took part in a Reddit Ask Me Anything (or AMA) session on Thursday, where he answered plenty of questions about Sesame Street.
One question led to a particularly moving answer.
One user asked the 81-year-old about his "most meaningful interaction with a child" during his time on the popular children's show.
You may need the tissues handy for Spinney's reply:
"Okay, here's one.
This is a very sad story, but it's real.
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.""
If you're still not claiming that there is dirt in your eye or there has been an attack of the onion ninjas, here are three more awesome Big Bird moments from over the years.
GOOD BYE, MR HOOPER
One of the defining moments of Sesame Street took place when actor Will Lee, who played Mr Harold Hooper, died of a heart attack in 1982.
While most TV shows would have simply re-cast Lee, the producers of the show wrote an episode to teach children the concept of death through Big Bird's eyes.
SNUFFY IS REAL
For a long time, Big Bird's best friend, the elephant-sized Mr Snuffleupagus, was thought by the other characters as a figment of Big Bird's imagination.
So when he finally proved that his "imaginary" friend was real to the adults of Sesame Street, Big Bird had a field day.
Later, it was revealed that the episode was driven by child abuse in the 80s as the show's producers did not want to encourage abused children from staying silent for fear of adults not believing them.
THAT BIRDMAN PARODY
Something a little more recent and lighter to end things off.
While Sesame Street's writers have been busy producing some awesome pop culture parodies recently, this take on Oscar winner Birdman with Spinney as Michael Keaton is definitely worth a watch.
"How did we get here? How did we get to Sesame Street?" is one of the gems that will make you smile as well the Big Bird take on Keaton's infamous white undies scene.
We don't know that the kids will get the reference (same for the Game Of Thrones and Mad Men parosdies) but there are plenty of adults that still watch the Sesame Street. And yes, some of those are adults without children of their own.