The Morning File: Dear Oprah -- It's me, your long-lost half-brother
January 31, 2011 5:00 AM
George Burns/Harpo Productions/AP
Family ties: Oprah Winfrey and her long-lost half-sister sister Patricia on Jan. 19.
By Gary Rotstein Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Dear Oprah Winfrey:
With great interest I learned last week that you had embraced a half-sister you never knew you had.
Patricia, that long-lost relative from Milwaukee, came on your talk show after verifying you had the same mother. You talked about the difficulties your mother faced when you and Patricia were both little, which resulted in Patricia being given up for adoption. You described how happy you were to finally meet her, because she wasn't trying to capitalize on your fame or fortune.
I don't mean to shock you -- and realize I'm appearing redundant -- but I suppose this is as good a time as any to tell you I believe I am the half-brother you were never aware of.
I know: Wow! That was my first reaction, too. I'll give you a moment to let it sink in. ...
OK, now, just feel the joy, Oprah -- I mean Sis. Pretend it's like the surprise of receiving a free car.
Just as in Patricia's case, I had a long and difficult journey to the discovery. It started with a feeling that I never really belonged within my own "family." Maybe it's because they teased me relentlessly about behaving like a child -- "But I'm supposed to act like this, I'm only 5, " I said to deaf ears. And as I grew older they dubbed me "Retch" as a family nickname, which I didn't much care for once I understood its meaning.
As an adult, I began researching other possibilities for my true relatives. I had a DNA test to determine if Bill Gates might be my brother, as we have equivalent levels of handsomeness and many people have commented on our similar personalities -- except for the part where he gives away lots of money and I don't.
Unfortunately, it turns out that I have some rare form of DNA that is impossible to match up with anyone else's, making confirmation of blood ties a bit shaky. I don't think that should dissuade us, however, from coming together in a tearful family reunion that would make great viewing on your new network.
Some people undoubtedly will try to play the race card on us. That whole "Wait a second, he's white, she's black, where does he get off thinking they're related?" thing. Thank goodness, in Barack Obama's America -- yep, I voted for your favorite Chicago politician, as one more piece of evidence we must be family -- the intelligent ones among us are past such quibbles.
I know you have had trouble in the past with family members trying to exploit you -- one of the world's richest women -- whether by seeking a portion of your billions directly or selling gossip about you to the tabloids.
Those reports disgust me, although I have to admit I haven't seen what Star or the National Enquirer are paying for scoops these days. Someone with your media experience probably has ways of finding that out, so if you hear, please let me know (not that I would do anything with that information, Sis).
One potential legitimate concern is what we do about Patricia. She's spent months thinking she's your only relative you never heard of, and now here I come along. A little jealousy on her part would be natural, so we should be patient with her.
But there's a problem in that the Milwaukeean is likely a Packers fan and I'm definitely a Steelers guy. (As a family favor to help boost your ratings, I might be able to see if backup center Doug Legursky would come on your show this week while he's hot.) So you're naturally wondering, like any good matriarch, how we avoid family fights on the verge of the Super Bowl.
My suggestion: Let's not invite Patricia to Sunday's game viewing. It's more important that you and I have quality time to get to know one another, without some cheesehead who doesn't know anything about Ben Roethlisberger's redemption making nasty comments whenever he's on your TV. (Which is what size, by the way? At least 52 inches, right? Just a guess -- not important, really, but it'd be nice.)
So there you have it, in about as emotional, heartfelt and cable-ready a fashion as I can present it. It's perhaps asking a lot for you to take it at face value that we're family, considering my lack of evidence, but then, you don't have any proof that we're not related.
So it's really pretty equal, except my theory gets better ratings than thinking the other way. All that considered, I hope to hear from you soon. If you can send a new car for me to get to Chicago, so much the better.