The Empty Nest
Everybody, especially Grandpa, is very excited because Grandma is finally able to come home from hospital after suffering a stroke. It is explained that she can't speak now. All the family prepares for her homecoming by remembering different things that she always enjoys. Grandpa loves having her home and wants to do everything for her, including answering when she is spoken to. When he mentions seeing Zuleika Dunbar though, and getting no response from Grandma, he is a little worried.
In the meantime, Elizabeth has a boy becoming interested in her, but Elizabeth is definitely not interested in him. She tells Olivia that the other kids at school make fun of him because he is overweight. Olivia is not pleased and tells Elizabeth that he is her friend who has helped her with a project. He tells Elizabeth that she is very pretty but she wouldn't want him, and she tells him that it is what in on the inside that counts.
At home, the girls do all the chores around the house, leaving none for Grandma, thinking they are making life easy for her. Later the Baldwin sisters come to visit bringing a jar of the recipe with them, and Esther gives this to Zeb without a word. When this happens, Zeb knows that something is not right! Things get worse though, when Zeb will not allow Esther to go out with Olivia, saying it will tire her out too much. Things come to a head when Olivia brings some beans out for Esther to help her with, and Esther tries to tell her that she needs to be needed. Olivia, in tears, tell her that they all need her. During the night Grandpa sneaks a look at Esther diary and learns that Esther made a promise to God that if he allowed her to get well enough to come home, she would no longer be sharp tongued. Grandpa tells her though, that she adds spice to the family with her sharp tongue and that he also made a promise to smother her with kindness should she come home. Olivia adds that old people need to feel needed too. Grandpa tells Esther that he is going to break his promise, pushes a broom into her hand, and tells her to earn her keep. As he is about to head inside, she whacks him with the broom and with that, Zeb picks her up and swings her around saying "You've come home Esther. You've come home". Esther slowly replies "You old fool".
- Ellen Corby as Grandma Esther Walton
- Joe Conley as Ike Godsey
- Ronnie Claire Edwards as Corabeth Walton Godsey
- Helen Kleeb as Miss Mamie Baldwin
- Mary Jackson as Miss Emily Baldwin
- Kenny Marquis as Clarence Johnson
- Peter Fox as Reverend Buchanan
- Ellen Corby had suffered a stroke during 1976 and was not seen in the series this season until this episode when she made her return, but she was still partially incapacitated. She was still seen on the series occasionally after this but only had a very minor role. Shortly after this episode aired Will Geer, the actor playing Grandpa Zeb Walton died and he was not replaced for subsequent seasons. His character's death was referred to in the first episode of season 7, along with a tribute at the end.