Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Oprah Winfrey Show---the end of an era

This isn’t about a gift-giving ceremony, Oprah explains. "There will be no guests, no surprises, you will not be getting a car. This last hour is about me saying thank you, it is my love letter to you. I want to leave you all with the lessons that anchor my life. Everyday that I stood here I knew that this was exactly where I was supposed to be. There was many a day I came to work tired, but I showed up because I knew that you were waiting, you were waiting for whatever we had to offer. That’s why I never missed a day in 25 years."

After 25 years of being on the air, The Oprah Winfrey Show, broadcast it's last show today.

To be honest, I'm not quite sure how I feel about that.

Perhaps, bittersweet.

Sure, I had heard the news months ago about the last show airing on May 25th. I absent-mindedly watched the commercials showing the countdown.

I thought to myself, "Oh, how nice. They are really making this an event."

Then it was May and the date crept closer and closer. A funny feeling that I couldn't explain settled in the pit of my stomach and I found myself paying closer attention. After all, this was the woman who was on the TV set in my living room, five days out of the week. . . for 25 years.

Once again, I thought to myself, "I need to watch a few shows for old times sake."

Finally news broke that there were going to be two, not one, final show.

As I reflected, I thought, "Wow, this is a big deal."

And then today---it finally happened. The final show of Oprah Winfrey aired. And to my surprise, I was sad as I made my way down memory lane. Oprah's final show reminded me of the favorite and beloved relative who you think will always be around and you tend to take them for granted. And then....something tragic happens, maybe they die or go far away.

It's at that moment, maybe an "aha moment" when you realize how much they meant to you. Bittersweet memories set in, exactly like what happened to me today. You feel a desire to tell them how they've made a difference in your life and how much you appreciate them.

As I found myself becoming nostalgic, I realized regardless of whether you love or hate Oprah, I for one love her ( I guess you can tell), you can't negate her effect on American culture. No one can take that away from her. She grew from a talk show host to an American pop icon.

Oprah showed the world that a poor, black girl from rural Mississippi could grow up and become the first, black female billionaire and one of the most influential and powerful women in the country.

Oprah crossed color boundaries and became everyone's best girlfriend. Admit it, everyone wanted to be like Gayle and be Oprah's BFF.

When Oprah spoke, people listened. What a brand she manufactured of herself. Her stamp of approval guaranteed a person, business or product, instant, overnight success. Just ask Dr. Phil, Suzie Orman, Dr. Oz and others. Powerful.

Oprah changed publishing as we know it today. Suddenly, it was cool to be in a book club and to actually read and discuss books. And as an author, I knew exactly what it meant to have your book chosen as her Book Club meant becoming a New York Times bestselling author overnight. Oprah validated you to America and America trusted Oprah.

Oprah taught us the difference between being religious and being spiritual. "I know I’ve never been alone, and you haven’t either. That presence, that flow, some people call it grace, it’s working in my life at every single turn. It’s yours for the asking." Oprah added, "God is love and God is life. And your life is always speaking to you, first in whispers."

And who else but Oprah would give an entire studio audience cars? No one will ever forget, "You get a car! You get a car! And you get a car!" We can't begin to elaborate on what Oprah has done on an international basis as well, giving of her time, money...building schools.

We laughed with her, cried tears of sorrow and happiness, kept journals recording our thoughts, experiences and feelings, embraced the power of women, all women, had our "aha moments", learned of our power within, bought our "favorite things" and learned many, countless life lessons over her 25 year reign.

A rare era has ended. No one will EVER replace Oprah. We've witnessed a rare occurrence in our lives. We have Oprah, Obama in the White House, a black first lady, Michelle, along with her mother and beautiful daughters....all making us proud.

As I reminisce, I realize I literary grew up with Oprah. I went from a young woman to a middle aged woman over the course of those years. I guess I never expected her to go away. She was such a staple in my home. I've learned so many lessons about life, love, relationships, people in general, the world and basically how I see myself. At the end of the day, we are all the same, no matter the race, sex, nationality---we want the same for our families, for our children. And none of us are perfect---life is a constant struggle to be the best we can be, live our best lives and serve others. We are all just trying to get it right, one day at a time.

I'll miss Oprah much like I'd miss a beloved relative. I know this isn't the end, only the beginning of even greater things to come. Even as she ended her show, she still had words of wisdom to instill.

Oprah says the lesson she wants everyone to get from this show is to know "what sparks the light in you so that you in your own way can illuminate the world. I didn’t even imagine that the show would have the depth and the reach that (it has now). ... Wherever you are, that’s your stage, your circle of influence. That’s your talk show, that’s where your power lies. … You have the power to change somebody’s life. Everyone has a calling, and your real job in life is to figure out what that is and get about the business of doing it."

As she said her final goodbyes, "I won't say good-bye, I'll just say, until we meet again. To God be the glory."  Once again I thought, "Oprah is a true class act. Bravo."

And then the screen faded to black.

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