Tuesday, January 22

I Saw Oprah

This story actually starts 4 days ago on my Saturday shift at the radio station. Rob and I were talking about Oprah, who was starting her tour of Western Canada on Monday. The first city on her tour was Edmonton then Calgary, and finishing off Thursday in Vancouver. It was pretty exciting stuff. Rob asked a simple question, "Are you going?"  To which I replied, "no, I wish"

Rewind the story to a night shift I worked with Rob about a month ago. After one of our breaks (the times we talk on air during a show) I went to the bathroom. As I passed the giant TV that is in the entrance way of the station that you have to pass on your way to the restroom, I saw an advertisement that a listener for our sister station 99.3 Up could have the chance to meet Oprah with one of the hosts Charlie Morgan.

I ran back to the studio without having gone pee, frantic with what I just saw on the TV. I said to Rob, "Did you know Charlie gets to meet Oprah?" Rob, having NO idea what in the world I was talking about just shrugged his shoulders. OMG Charlie gets to MEET OPRAH!!

I scrambled to my phone and sloppily texted two of my bosses to see if there was any chance I could go too. I figured it was a long shot but I had to try. Meeting Oprah has been a dream of mine for years. It's on my bucket list for heaven sake! Both of my superiors assured me there was no chance they could help me see her. So I just accepted it wasn't going to happen. Also the fact that she was coming on a night I worked, and if that was not enough, the hundreds of dollars it was going to cost  for even the "bad seats" I needed to quickly make peace with the fact I was not going to get to see her. I was a little crushed to put it lightly.

Fast forward to last Saturday...

Monique (Mo as her friends and family call her) is a mom of three grown children. She has a husband named Wayne who is going to start working in Madagascar soon and Mo herself works in a greenhouse in the summer months.On Saturdays Mo drives her daughter to soccer (her daughter is a Man U fan) and when she is doing her soccer run early Saturday morning she seldom, if ever, listens to the radio, she is more likely to listen to CD's. But this past Saturday she had the radio on, and just happened to hear my comment about how I would loved to have seen Oprah, but will not be able to go.
Funny because Mo had been given two tickets from her husband to see Oprah. Mo is a HUGE Oprah fan too. When she happened to be listening to the Rob & Joelle show that morning she decided to text me at the station and tell me she wanted to take me with her.

I get a lot of texts at the station regarding gifts (not to sounds pretentious) listeners lovingly drop off coffee, and chips. Flowers (with marriage proposals attached), sporting event and concert tickets have been offered and even once I was given an adult toy from someone. So when I read the text that came in the Saturday morning "If you don't mind going with a stranger Joelle, you could come with me". Knowing this was not a serious offer, I said "thank you and sure" (with the appropriate "lol" attached) because who would give a stranger an Oprah ticket? Mo told me in text her husband Wayne, would forever be thankful for not making him go.. not thinking much of it I went on with my day and headed home that night. Sunday morning bright and early Mo texted again to tell me she was on her way down to the station to drop off my ticket. Still not really believing this was real, I was even more shocked when the text that she was outside came in. I asked why she didn't give it to her sister or a best friend? Mo simply said "I don't know, I thought about it, but I just didn't".

I had a real Oprah ticket in my hand. I was in shock for the rest of the day. It was all a blur, I cried the entire way home. I put the ticket in my wallet and found myself opening it every so often to prove to myself I was not making it all up.

 Monday could not come fast enough.  Rob and I covered for Crash & Mars again.
I was giddy all day. I hesitantly told a few people about what I was going to do later that night, to which I received scoffs, rolled eyes and even one girl told me Oprah was the anti-Christ.
How could any of them understand what this meant to me? How could people in their 20's who didn't watch her everyday for decades when they were unhappy with their life and struggling to understand past pains understand how much she has taught me. How could they understand how tender I was feeling when they believed she was a racist and a man hater? It was very difficult to listen to all of that. But how could they understand?

I cried the drive home from work. Partly from the exhaustion of having to get up at 3am, and partly from the anticipation of what was to come. I had a nap when I got home, which brought Oprah that much closer when I woke.

While I was getting ready, I needed to talk to someone. I needed someone to listen and to understand why this mattered to me. I didn't want to call anyone and worry It might sound like I was bragging that I got tickets. I just needed to tell someone that was impartial what was going on and not hear mocking, hatred or judgment.
So I texted my boss. I needed him to hear how she influenced me and inspired me. How I have grown with her and lost weight with her. I have read books that have changed my life because of her. I learned to listen and hear my inner voice because of her. How she helped me see things and people differently. How She brought experts onto her show who taught me how to parent and help me understand why I felt overwhelmed with it and how to work on parts of myself. She helped me heal and  taught me, through sharing her own experiences, that rape and molestation were not the fault of the victim, even when it's so easy to blame ourselves, and I did.
How to grieve the loss of friends who passed and how to be a better person and more understanding of others. She taught me how to live gratitude and how to face my demons head on and come out the other side.
How, in a small but undeniable way, she helped raise me to be the woman I am today. By the end of this soul purging, I was doing the snot running, swollen eyed, ugly cry. I just needed to voice it and after I had, I felt better. I had a crying headache, but I was better. And with everything off my chest, I got ready and headed into the city.

I found my seat and was so excited I could not cry one more drop. Mo arrived soon after I got there and we chatted and I got to learn more about her and her family. When the time came for things to start I was so relaxed and just ready to listen and absorb. It was wonderful. It was nice to hear her voice again, and listen to the wisdom of her experience. It was like a reminder of all the things I had been taught over 25 years. It was a nice night. Around the time her talking was over, I was really starting to feel tired. Knowing I had a 45 minute drive home and I had to be up at 3 in the morning.  I started to panic that I was not going to be able to watch everything that was left. She still had her one on one interview thing with George Stropolopolopolus.

Random women would shout out "Thank you" throughout the night and when she sat down to talk with George I felt a tinge of sadness that I would never get to say thank you myself. I sure was not going to scream it like others but I understood what made them do it. Then George asked her something and to it she responded, "If you started watching me (the Oprah show) when you were 10, and watched for 25 years, you are now 35 and probably have a family of your own.. In a small way, It's like I raised you.."

And there it was.

She had said my exact words. The EXACT words I had spoken only a few hours earlier. A flood of emotions ran over me and the tears poured out all over my face.
 She heard my Thank you, not directly from me, but she understood. She understood how much and why she mattered to me. That is all I wanted/needed and with that, I grabbed my jacket, thanked Mo again for the most wonderful evening and headed home. The whole drive home I just felt calm. I thought about the years I would run home after school with Melanie and Amy and watch her, and how I would set my VCR when I was in college to make sure I never missed her.

Not only did I get to share a little part of my experience from last night on the Morning show that Rob and I did this morning, I got to do little interviews with three other radio stations about my evening with Oprah. I have enjoyed telling others about it.

When I told my boss about what had happened and what she said, I told him,"no one is going to believe that is what I said to you, no one is going to believe those were my exact words to you". So I was feeling tempted to added his phone number to this blog post so people could call and confirm I am not making any of this up. But I decided you are going to have to just trust me.


I am grateful for Mo And Wayne. You will never know how this has affected me, and what this has meant to me. Thank you!

I am grateful that bucket list moments only come once in a while. I am feeling so drained and emotionally exhausted from everything, I am glad they naturally space themselves out.

I am grateful for the reminders I was given last night about things that matter to me.

I am ever so grateful.



Anthony Mills said...

Congratulations, Joelle! It's always wonderful when gifts go to someone who will appreciate them.

Mo said...

Now that my eyes are clear of tears I can respond!! I am extremely honored to have been able to share that evening with you. I believe in Karma and all the great graces it can bring and I am having a better understanding of what being a good human means. I am proud of my husband for allowing me to go on a whim and make someones day or lifetime!!. I truly wanted to share that moment with someone who understood Oprahs words and wisdom and through some "thread" it came through you. I don't know you that well but from what I have seen you are stronger that you think, you have great energy and are a true human.I hope Oprah inspired you and you continue to be a wonderful Mum and person. Thank you for all that you gave me...(crap, I can't stop tearing up!!) I know now that small gifts and gestures really do mean something to someone and I now will try harder to recognize the small things in life that can bring a smile to someones face. My Mum always gave to me be it help, money or bringing over cases of toilet paper! She passed away 2 years ago, I understand now why she did it, the great feeling it can give you to help even when it's not asked for. I hope to keep making good decisions and giving you that ticket has changed MY life. So Joelle, thank you, truly, thank you

Amy said...

Sounds like you have a blast & made a lovely new friend. It's inspiring to see selfless kindness from others, and to see you living your dreams. Love ya!