Oprah's Big Secret: Ooooo or zzzzzz?

Mon. January 24, 2011 4:17 PM by Pink Pulse

Chicago, IL - Oprah's big secret is out. Relax Gayle. It ain't about you. On Monday's show, Oprah revealed that she has a half sister that she never knew existed.

"This, my friends, is the miracle of all miracles" Oprah stated, adding that it's "a bombshell family secret that left me speechless." Speechless? Really? She managed to talk about it for an entire hour… and the story is far from finished.

Now, I must admit. When I first heard Oprah had a big secret she was going to reveal, I yawned. People's reaction to the announcement seemed to be either, "I can't wait to find out what the secret is" or "who cares". My reaction was the latter.

But I took the bait and tuned into the show to find out if the reveal was worth the hype. I have to say, I was surprised at how engrossed I became in how it all played out. There are several twists in the story that I found fascinating.

Here's how it went down: Oprah told the story of how she found out about Patricia, her half sister who was born to her mother, Vernita Lee on April 26, 1963. At that time Oprah was 9 years old and living in Nashville with her father. Oprah says she never knew her mom was pregnant, "I didn't even know that my mother gave up a baby for adoption in 1963." Vernita gave up the child at birth and kept it a secret all these years.

Patricia, who is now 47 spent her first seven years in foster care before being adopted. She now has 2 adult children, Andre and Aquarius, who she raised as a single mom. At their urging Patricia decided to search for her birth mother. She requested her adoption papers, and discovered that she had 3 half siblings. Although she was not given access to the names of her mother or siblings, she did find out their birth dates and that two of her half siblings had died. Her oldest sister, she discovered was still alive and born in 1954, the same year Oprah was born, but she never imagined that she was related to Oprah. She thought her sister was still living in Tennessee. As Patricia put it, she figured her sister was "probably down there cooking up a storm and got about 10 kids."

Patricia reached out to her birth mother who refused to see her. On the same day as that rejection, Patricia saw an interview with Oprah's mom on a local Milwaukee news program where Vernita revealed that she had two dead children who were half siblings to Oprah (who was born in 1954) and the pieces started to fall in place.

Patricia, naturally, was stunned at the possibility of being related to Oprah , but she wanted to be sure. "When Patricia first discovered the connection in 2007" Oprah says, "she tried 3 times to reach Vernita, but Vernita wasn't ready."

"I was very hurt" was Patricia's reaction, "I just had to let it go." She kept her suspicions a secret fearing it would become a media frenzy.

Eventually, Patricia saw an article in a magazine about Oprah's niece, Alisha Hayes who owns a Milwaukee-area restaurant called Pat's Rib Place, named after Alisha's mom Patricia who died in 2003.

Yes, the Patricia who was searching for her mom has the same name as her half-sister who passed away. Even more bizarre is that the living Patricia was given up for adoption at birth and Vernita never named her daughter. It is a coincidence that they ended up with the same name!

When Alisha met her aunt Patricia, she was stunned at how much Patricia resembles her mother. Patricia, seeing the pictures of her dead half-sister on the walls of the restaurant was also stunned. "Oh my God, that is me. We just look so much alike." From there the pieces of the puzzle came together.

After a DNA test, Vernita confirmed that Patricia was indeed her daughter and Oprah was told just before this past Thanksgiving. On Thanksgiving Day, Oprah and Stedman drove to Milwaukee to meet Patricia. How they managed to keep the news out of the media these past few months is nothing short of a miracle. But that shows you the power of Oprah. You don't dare leak any information that she intends to tell first.

Patricia appeared live on the Oprah show to tell her side of the story, but Oprah's mom was not there. Oprah did show a taped interview with Vernita who explained why she never told Oprah that she had a half-sister. "I thought it was a terrible thing… what I had done, to give up my daughter when she was born." Vernita says she wanted to get off welfare. "I made the decision to give her up because I wasn't able to take care of her."

Oprah decided to reveal the information on her show because she said, "there's no way with how the media works today that a story like this wouldn't get out in the press and wouldn't be exploited. I didn't want that to happen because it's true… and I wanted you to hear it from me first."

Oprah emphasized the great respect she has for her half-sister, Patricia for "not selling her out".

She concluded the show with "as you can imagine, Patricia and I are still sorting of all this out. It's a process…. So we're going to be getting to know each other in the months and days and years to come."

The timing couldn't be better for Patricia. Who better to fill the void when "Oprah" goes off the air than her newly found half-sister? Even if you're feeling Oprah fatigue like I am, if you get a chance to watch the show, I guarantee you'll be captivated for the entire hour. Good for you, Oprah! You still know how to tell a great story and captivate your audience.