Column: And the Oscar Goes To

By Icy Frantz

No one would know it, but I am a huge fan of the Oscars. No one would know it because I am usually in bed by 10 p.m. and I am typically asleep well before the Best Supporting Actor category. Nevertheless, every year, about a week before the awards, I try to cram in the films nominated for Best Picture and am usually at about 75% by Sunday night. And then, Monday morning after the Oscars, I, along with many others, Google “Who Won?” while sipping coffee, happily rested from a good night’s sleep. Throughout the day, I listen to the newsworthy acceptance speeches, I check out the fashion hits and misses, “what was she thinking?” and I play over and over again the best live-performed songs of the night.

For the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, it’s a big night and, for the winners and nominees, it is night of public celebration. I have always found it particularly odd and invasive the way the cameras zoom in on the losing nominees, catching them at the precise moment that the one winner is announced, and I wonder what it would feel like to not hear your name and have your immediate emotional response be broadcast around the world. For the winners, the award is an opportunity to lift up and recognize work well done. And, I would argue that, although very few of us will stand on that stage to accept the award, or even attend the sparkly night, we all have our own Oscar moments throughout the year and throughout our life.

Some of my favorite Oscar moments are personal, and what they lack in fanfare, they make up in value. Last week, I was dropping our strong-willed daughter at school. She had woken up on the wrong side of the bed, or maybe I had, and I had called for a time out. We drove to school in silence, each determined, each miserable but neither one of us willing to call a truce. As we neared the entrance and I pulled closer to the curb, she gripped her backpack ready to jolt out, and just before she slammed the door, she looked back at me and whispered, almost imperceptibly, “Love you.” I responded, “Love you, too,” and off she went.

I was neither be-gowned nor be-jeweled; in fact, I was be-bath-robed, and thankfully we had no one looking on. The morning had been steep with tension and, like the final announcement of an Academy Award winner, her two words had broken the standoff, and I drove home feeling like she had just presented me with the Oscar.

Parenting can be hard. We work at it and work at it and sometimes we get it right and sometimes we do not. We search for the perfect words to say to our toddler, to our teenager, to our adult. We guide, we push and we pray for their safety and for their happiness. We try out different approaches like a new pair of heels, looking for the ones that are both comfortable and stylish. And we gather up those little moments when love makes its presence known loud and clear. We hold onto the highs, and love like we would hold onto the gold statue, gripping it with all our might.

I am at a stage in life when many of my friends have become empty nesters and they are wrestling with what to do with their newly allotted free time. Many have started businesses or have returned to work outside of the home or have delved head first into learning something new, something they have always dreamed of doing. There is the risk of rejection but, perhaps even greater, there is the risk of not finding something meaningful in which to pour their hearts. We head out into unchartered territory and sometimes we learn that all of those earlier life lessons have prepared us well for what lies ahead and we create, and we fill, and we learn to love this new beginning and we succeed even if that success is in itty bitty steps and that determination is deserving of an Oscar.

Recently, I ran into a friend at Green and Tonic. I was going about my order, head down, unaware of the other customers, with my thoughts in some far-off place. I heard, “Hi Icy,” and I looked up to a vaguely familiar face with bright eyes and a rosy complexion from the cool air.

“It’s Susan,” she said. Her hair was shorter, much shorter than I had recalled, very cute but different. Our children had attended elementary school together many years ago.

“Hi Susan.” I said, embarrassed by my lapse in recognition and hoped that she didn’t notice.

Susan told me that it was her first day back working out after months of treatment for cancer. I hadn’t heard. I was struck by her vitality. She had been knocked down, she had endured, she had grit and she was celebrating something many of us take for granted. She was back in the ring. Her attitude and her power made such an impression on me and, if I had had a gold statue in my pocket, I would have been honored to present it.

And the Oscar goes to….You have 45 seconds in front of 30 million viewers. The camera zooms in and you gracefully make your way onto the stage, dressed in a gown made up of four million beads. You humbly accept. The gold statue represents so much: success, victory, hard work, grit or simply a small step in the right direction. You thank those who helped you get there, hopefully your Mom. Maybe you are political or funny and you say good night to your sleepy children watching from home.  You take a minute to inspire and say never give up because there is an Oscar waiting for you, too. And with that, the music comes on, the mic is turned off and your time is up.