The Day I Met Oprah

Oprah mugWatching Oprah in The Butler reminded me of the day I met her, 13 years ago this week…

Here’s how it happened:  My oldest daughter started college that fall. I had been through this before with our two sons…the sadness of the empty place at the table, the bare room, the blaring quiet.  I was so excited for her new life but missing her was consuming me.

Our youngest daughter saw an ad for an upcoming Oprah show on ABC…”If you have recently sent a child off and you are having a hard time coping, call this number.”  She wrote down the number and handed it to me.  “CALL THEM.”

“Yeah, right,” I thought.  But when I felt no better the next afternoon, I decided to call.  Busy-Busy-Busy was the only response I got.  First I gave up, then I got focused, I WAS going to talk to them and they better answer the phone…and they finally did.

It was the briefest of conversations.  They asked one question… “Tell me about how you’re feeling about your child leaving home.”  I gave one answer:  “This is really hard,” blah blah blah.  The platitude, “We’ll call you if we want to use your story” ended the call.

About five days later, my neighbor asked me to go with her to the vet to have her ailing cat put down.  We were not close but it touched me that she asked me accompany her for this personal event.  While I was in the waiting room and she was spending the last few minutes with her beloved pet, the Oprah show called.  “We want to use your story.”

The O staff must get trained in brevity because all I remember was… “Show up at Harpo Studios on Friday at 9 for the taping.”  Oh and please fed-ex a photo of you and your daughter and that no parking reimbursement would be provided.  I decided to take the train.

Choosing what to wear was the big dilemma.  I didn’t think I had any Oprah suitable outfits and finally chose something I liked.  Just as I was leaving, I noticed a subtle stain so grabbed my black standby sweater and headed down.

There were twelve of us at the taping, all of us had recently separated from our kids, some to kindergarten, one to the military, four of us to college.  We traded introductions over a plate of pastries then got herded into the Green Room and led to the make-up chairs.  Fun!

For the next few hours we were each grilled on the separation process.  Some of the questions seemed designed for the “bleed” angle.  A few of the women seemed to have trouble with everyday tasks.  I was beginning to feel better already!

Show day came the next Friday.  I got to bring one friend!  A fully stocked limo picked us up at my house at 6:15 in the morning and a few neighbors came out to wish us well.

Limo for Oprah ShowEarly Morning Limo Ride

As soon as we arrived I handed over my cell phone and step into a scanner followed by a whisking away to the glamour department again. This time for make up AND hair.  Oh if only I could replicate that at home!

An usher led the twelve of us to our assigned seats in the front where we enjoyed entertained by the warm-up guy until the queen herself, Oprah, strolled onto the set.  She was funny, engaging and warm.  I liked her immediately.

The tape we had made the previous Friday filled the screen interspersed with talking points by Dr Phil’s wife, Robin about separation issues.  My one big line, “How can you have someone with you for eighteen years and then get over it in a day or two?” was quoted three times by Oprah.

The best part was yet to come.  About ¾ through the show, Oprah announced that after the break there would be a “little something” for the four college moms.  Unbeknownst to me, as she was sworn to secrecy, the O show had also contacted my daughter at U of I and asked her to get a video recording of herself  telling me how much she missed me too.  As each college kid’s video played, the camera picked up the mom’s reaction in the corner of the screen.  I was blown away as my weeping could be seen round the world.

All too soon the hour came to an end.  Oprah come over and shook hands and the staff handed us a mug on the way out.  My friend and I had lunch then took a taxi home, at our own expense.

My separation anxiety soon morphed into a healthy new phase of relating to my aging children.  The Oprah show ended awhile back but my memory of that magical day still stands as one of the most fun days of my life.

Hope for the Best,



6 Responses to “The Day I Met Oprah”

  1. 1 Cindy Wiewel September 2, 2013 at 2:30 PM

    I remember that day too. Zach was starting kindergarten and now he is off as a freshman in college. How time flies. You are a great role model. Thanks.

  2. 3 Franci Henderson September 2, 2013 at 11:02 PM

    I remember turning on the TV that day and there you were!

  3. 5 felicia hughes September 5, 2013 at 11:35 PM

    Tish, I think that is a great story! You must have looked gorgeous after the Harpo Studios hair and makeup session because you already look really good in the 6:15am limo picture!!! I was on Oprah too but it wasn’t pre-taped like yours. Fun!

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