Until I retired five years ago, I had only watched a handful of Oprah shows. I’ve always thought her rise to fame an interesting phenomenon, but I have become a great admirer recently. I DVR her shows so that I can watch when I want and zip through the commercials, and I don’t watch every show. Sometimes her topics and/or guests don’t interest me. But she, as a person, interests me a great deal. She is clearly an iconic business woman and a very successful one. But what I think Oprah has brought to the airwaves is the ability to raise the standards of broadcasting and celebrity. She has built a huge following by doing good and generous things, not by becoming a circus act or a negative role model. She is a clear force for kindness and good in the world -- is there anything we need more?
Some of her beliefs are a little far out for me, but they harm no one. The key principle of her show, she tells the audience frequently, is intention. The good she has done with her fame and fortune is massive. Whether it is building a school, or giving away her favorite things, she is leaving a legacy of excellence and generosity. (Don’t you know how much I would have liked to be in the favorite things audience...screaming and head exploding like all the rest?) She has allowed herself to be known, glamorous one minute and flannel pajamas the next, and let us see her without makeup. As we women all know, that takes true grit! She has built an audience so loyal that she seldom had to worry about ratings, but she vowed to present shows that had value for the viewer and she has done that extremely well. And let’s not forget that she got people to read and made a lot of authors’ careers.
Yes, I will miss her. I will miss her like a dear friend with whom I can laugh and cry. I have come to love her humor, her passion for her dogs, her straight talk and her intention to live her best life. I wouldn’t mind trying to live her best life – but I will continue to try to live my best life as well as I can. She has inspired that in me, and for that I admire and thank her. She will no doubt surprise us with her next chapters.