Yesterday I spent the better part of the morning watching Oprah’s last few episodes and crying like I had an actual reason. At times I choose to hide my love and dedication for the show but for the most part I hold my head high and say, Yes, I’ve grown up watching Oprah and I love her. Like many in myself and my Mom’s generations, the Oprah show has sewn on the fabric of our being, affected and molded who we are. For better or worse, I am partially who I am because of her. Of course the bulk of the credit (or blame depending on your opinion of me) is awarded to my parents and family, and myself; but like stand-out teachers and coaches, Oprah stirred the pot of my youth adding her own ingredients to my complicated recipe. The show was one of many bonding mechanisms for me and my Mom. We watched every day at 4, after school. That was my break time. Snack time. Time for Oprah to tell me what book to read, which John Travolta movie I probably won’t be seeing, how to spot a child molester (you can’t, they look, smell, and sound like everyone else), what it’s like to be oppressed in any way, in any society, and how my bowel movements better be s-shaped. I often shared a large cushiony chair and ottoman with my Mom and we discussed what we were seeing. Until recently we still drank hot tea and watched DVRed episodes of Oprah and I cherish all those memories and subsequent conversations.
Even though at times I wear an F U on my forehead, with sharpened sarcasm that I can skewer whomever I deem deserving, I’m quite a softy at heart. My parents raised me to be compassionate and grateful for all I had. Oprah broadened that compassion by letting us all into not just the misfortunate in our country, but the truly destitute, endangered, and suffering of those in many others. The show was a catalyst to give more and complain less. What can ever be wrong with that?
It's easy to dislike someone so successful, so popular, often times so opinionated and I enjoy getting in on those bandwagons, but I grew up with this show. It ending affects me and many others. I'll move on of course, already have, but the end of an era inspired me to write and so I am.
Even though I’ve watched and learned most from her in the last decade or so, the loss of the Oprah show conjured up such nostalgia. My oldest best friend and I reached out to each other yesterday because we’ve nerdily been discussing the show since our pre-teens. We’ve passed along book, film, and television selections, let alone the complex array of information we gleaned in 20 years. In some bizarre way Oprah was America’s mother, and the world’s step-mother. She’s done more for women around the world, not to mention any human being in need of inspiration and strength, than any other human being in our recent history. It may be easy to parody and mock her “favorite things” shows or when she gives everyone a car, but it all comes from an enormously generous place, and her intention is only for good. I believe that wholeheartedly.
I found myself crying and resonating with so much of what she passed along on her final show Wednesday. I’ve learned from her many guests, just as she has. And I find myself getting in my own way and accepting real happiness or success that comes. I’ll never forget those words and will do my best to remind myself to just relax, suck it up and enjoy. The simple and beautiful message to merely follow your bliss, whatever that may be, big or small, is something I’m striving for and do not want to let go. The fact that her success only began in her 30’s is admirable and reminds me to be patient, continue to learn, work hard, and just enjoy the ride.
We could all die tomorrow, not in some rapture BS, but in some cruel and tragic way that always gives humans 30 seconds of perspective. If I did I could honestly say I’ve lived better because of Oprah. And like millions, I thank her for it. I’ll hopefully continue to channel her work ethic and her philanthropic spirit as I aim to pave my own success and mark on my little world.
I hope those of you reading have felt my appreciation and love for you and nothing less.