Great finales bring out the tears

I am a sucker. For the last few hours I’ve been clearing my DVR and watching season/series finales and bawling my eyes out.

Let me be clear, I am not an overly emotional person, nor am I a TV addict. In fact, the older I get, the more I dislike the boob tube. It’s a sign of aging, I suppose.

My sob fest began with the season finale of, in my humble opinion, the worst season of “American Idol” since I started watching 10 years ago. I say it was the worst season, but I watched every episode, mainly because my 4-year-old can’t get enough. I found her in her room one afternoon holding her play mic and pronouncing to various stuffed bears, pigs and cats, “You’re going to Hollywood!” “You’re in it to win it, dawg!” Yeah, I’m one proud mom.

When Scottie the Hottie — his fans’ nickname, not mine — was crowned this season’s winner, my eyes welled up with emotion. It was bad enough that I couldn’t even play it off as dust in my eye. What in the world? I’m not a fan of country music, and I didn’t even like the boy that much. I was more of a James Durbin gal. Too much of Scottie staring into the camera was really creeping me out, yet I think the only person crying harder than me was his mom.

I moved from there to the Queen Bee herself, Oprah. I’ve watched Oprah off and on for the past 25 years — yes, I’m old enough to remember those first seasons — but I sort of drifted away the last few. Nothing personal. She just didn’t float my boat. But I’ve been watching her behind-the-scenes series, which I find fascinating.

I started with the two-hour celeb-fest and fast-forwarded through most of it. DVR is the greatest invention since the Internet. But her final hour where she stood alone in her studio and addressed the audience brought another flood of tears, much to my own surprise, and a little shame. Seriously, what is wrong with me? It’s not like the woman ever gave me a car, sent Nate Berkus to redo my kitchen or flew me to Australia.

So what’s with all the boo-hooing?

I think I may have finally figured out, and without the help of Dr. Phil.

I love to see people rise to the occasion. I love to see people meet challenges head on and conquer those challenges with determination. I love to see people recognize their talents and use them to inspire others.

Scottie the Hottie does not inspire me to be a great country singer. I’m smart enough to recognize that my voice sounds more like a bullhorn than Beyonce. But he does inspire me to reach for goals higher than I thought achievable. I mean, this guy was bagging groceries less than a year ago and now he’s singing on stage in front of millions with people like Tim McGraw. I think even Scottie is a little shocked at that.

As for Oprah, well, I can think of a million other people I’d rather get advice from, but I have to give the girl props for her hard work and clear vision. That woman knows what it means to be persistent and self-assured. Here’s someone who came from a time and a place that told her, “No, you can’t.” She simply said, “Watch me.” And we all did, literally.

Here’s the thing. You don’t have to watch television for inspiration. I experienced the same emotion, the same welling of the eyes not long ago at the Ogden Marathon finish line.

After my race was done, I hurried back to the hotel so I could take a quick shower and head back to the Kids K race that our kids were participating in.

Boo-hoo moment No. 1 happened as I crossed the finish line with my 4-year-old and we met up with my 7-year-old who had already finished her run. Their smiles and hugs made me one proud mama. My youngest, Ali, had struggled through her 1K race, even crying a little in the middle. When I asked if she wanted me to carry her, she looked up at me with a look of annoyance and said, “No. I’ll walk fast.” She could, and would, do this on her own. It’s one of my happiest moments as a mom.

Boo-hoo moment No. 2 happened as we were headed to lunch after the kids had finished their races. Mind you, this was now more than six hours after the marathon start that morning. As we were walking past the finisher’s chute, we noticed a few spectators still waiting for their loved ones to finish. We paused as we saw a woman limping and shuffling down that long road to the finishing mats. In an instant, she was surrounded by friends, two of whom were practically holding her up. My kids got out their cowbells and started yelling, cheering and ringing as she passed by. She was crying. Her friends were crying, and, you guessed it, I was crying.

Why? I don’t know this woman and I‘ll probably never see her again. I don‘t know her story, but what I do know is that she traveled a tough road and didn’t give up.

While I showered and enjoyed my afternoon with my family, this marathoner was out there alone, tackling her own mountains with grit and determination. She didn’t have the crowd support or the finish line applause that many others enjoyed. But she didn’t do it for them. She ran for herself. She set a high standard, and she simply crushed it.

She is not unique. Thumb through some of the race photos; in fact, thumb through any race’s photos and you’ll find a depth of emotion at the finish line; elation, exhaustion, celebration. But my favorite is inspiration.

Bill Rodgers, one of the greatest American marathoners of all time, has famously said, “The marathon will humble you.” He was speaking to the runners. But I think he could also be speaking to the rest of us who watch those runners find their inner glory.

Now, that’s my kind of finale.

Kim Cowart is a wife, mother, 24-Hour Fitness instructor and marathoner whose marathon finish times have all beat Oprah’s marathon finish time.

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