I have found myself in the seemingly small group of people in this world who really don't have a strong opinion either way about Oprah Winfrey.
I do remember when she came on the scene 25 years ago. I was in my first year of college and my only memory of her was that she was the first black woman (or black person for that matter) to have a national talk show on TV. That was cool. But other than that, for me, she just sort of blended in with Phil Donahue, Geraldo, and Sally Jesse Raphael. I didn't watch talk shows, so you know, who cares?
Fast forward about seven or eight years and I was a stay-at-home mom with two babies in diapers. I'll admit I watched soap operas. Often, it was my only adult interaction during the day, but I wouldn't recommend it. No adult interaction at all is better. All soap operas did for me was to make me unnecessarily suspicious of my husband and neighbors. And everyone else I knew.
But I also watched Oprah from time to time. I can't say I was a follower, but she had an entertaining show, and my mom often phoned to tell me to tune in. She had current singers and movie stars, as well as all sorts of self help. It was good stuff.
A few years later I started homeschooling my kids, and that was pretty much where my quasi-relationship with daytime TV - and Oprah - ended.
Over the years I caught the show once or twice by accident, if I had the TV on while making dinner, or something, but Oprah's career took off and flew mostly unbeknownst to me. Somewhere along the way I saw her on magazine covers. I do remember hearing about her ups and downs with weight-loss. And at one point, there she was with her OWN magazine, which I didn't read. Not because I didn't like it. I just didn't even think about it. It was like picking up Popular Mechanics - why would I do that?
In more recent years, I've been aware that Oprah's had a book club and a few books I've read have had her stamp of approval. I saw a clip from the Tom Cruise sofa-jumping episode on YouTube. And along the way, I knew that Oprah had developed quite a following. On the news I'd hear about all the good she was doing in the world, buildling schools and such - and there really was a lot of good, from what I heard. I knew people who thought she hung the moon, while others thought she had become too political and couldn't be trusted. I didn't have an opinion because I just didn't know. Or care.
Then on the news a few weeks ago, I saw that Oprah was soon going to air her very last Oprah Winfrey Show. I was on the treadmill watching the morning news when I heard this, and I thought hey, maybe I should try to catch that show.
That was the last I thought about it.
Yesterday I was home, having come back from a trip to California, only to find the house in a disastrous state. Last week my husband had dental surgery and the girls had prom, so they pretty much let everything go. I decided to clean up their mess since I wasn't working anyway. Around 4 p.m. I sat down to take a break, flipped on the TV, and there was Oprah's very last show. Who knew?!
It was very sweet. Lots of thankfulness and tears. I admit I even teared up a bit. Looks like I missed a lot of neat shows over the years. This went on for TWENTY-FIVE YEARS. How was I not a part of it? Oprah and I have grown older together - yet separately. Her show has been around for over half my life, and I feel so removed from it all.
Somehow I've survived without Oprah guiding my way.
I imagine the rest of the world will, too.
Copyright © 2011 - Paulla Estes