One of Mom's favorite shows was Oprah's show. It was practically the only show she recorded. This is a story she wrote for one of her early 90s writing classes, apparently on an assignment to write a descriptive story about a dream of hers. The story centers around Mom's dream of being a guest on the show to talk about problems faced by people who are handicapped.
The photo is of Mom and I outside the Adler Planetarium in Chicago in 1985. Chicago, of course, was the home to the Oprah show.
In my dreams I find myself an outstanding authority for the handicapped. I conduct seminars for businesses. I gear more toward the educational, rather than the barriers issue. I don't like to see anybody "put off" because of a disability, rather, I want them to see an individual's ability. I want them to be relaxed with the disability. Eventually, it won't even be seen or taken into consideration.
I am a business woman in my own right. I run my own sewing and designing studio. I have conducted seminars in a variety of cities on both subjects and seem to be well received.
Today I have been invited to be on a panel discussion of the Oprah Winfrey Show. The topic today is handicapped business people. We hope to dispel some myths about disabilities.
It begins off stage. The make-up artist skillfully gives me a new face - or so it seems. The hair dresser does things to my hair I never thought were possible. It feels so good to be pampered like this. The wardrobe artist helps pick out a new dress. These outfits feel so expensive. I choose a light green suit with rich looking buttons. The blouse has green and yellow flowers. A gold chain necklace goes around my neck with small gold dangle earrings. It hardly looks like me in the mirror. I almost forgot that my shoes, because of my braces, don't match.
I get to meet some of the other guests. There is John, a businessman from Ohio, who wears a three-piece suit and sits in a wheelchair. He sits there with so much authority that it seems like the natural way to travel.
Kim is a beautiful girl about 22 years old. She is wearing a one-piece red dress, flattering to her gorgeous figure and long, blonde hair. I looked at her and wondered why she is here - then I realized she is blind. Wow! She handles herself so well; then I found out she is a model.
Paul is a small-built man around 30 I guess. He wears a beautiful charcoal sweater and wool slacks. He runs a very expensive restaurant downtown. I was talking with him quite a while before I realized he was deaf.
My handicapped struggles seem so minor compared to some of these accomplishments. I hope some day to reach some of these goals.
Here comes Oprah. Now I really get nervous, with sweaty palms, hot face - the whole bit. She is gorgeous, a little heavier than on TV. She wears a pale blue linen suit with a paisley print blouse. She has low heals but flattering for her stature. She wears a little jewelry. Her hair is casual with soft waves. She introduces herself, and speaks with each one of us, shaking our hand and putting her arm around us individually, making us relaxed. She speaks with us about the purpose of the show - educating Americans about the humanness of a disabled person. She explains how the show will be conducted. I feel relaxed and nervous at the same time. Oprah has so much confidence and self assurance. If I can just not think about all those people, I will be okay.
The curtain is up and we are introduced. One at a time we discuss our lives briefly. I'm the author of "Sewing for the Business Woman," a best-selling craft book. I have also written many articles for magazines on the "Handicapped American" a series of stories written about a young handicapped girl and the problems she faces in the "real" world.
I see all those faces but I concentrate on only one, Oprah's, and pretend it is just us talking. They clap and laugh as I say something funny. I hope it didn't sound stupid.
The others are talking. They seem so successful. The questions begin. Many are directed at me. The show goes fast. Oprah carries it off so well. She thanks us as everyone applauds. She says we helped many people realize that we are people first, then handicapped people.
Connie, about 1994