May 25, 2011— -- There was only one guest on the final episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" -- Oprah Winfrey.
Winfrey walked out on a stage for the last time to a standing ovation from an audience filled with friends and family, including her longtime boyfriend Stedman Graham, filmmaker Tyler Perry, her fourth-grade teacher Mrs. Duncan and her former Baltimore talk show co-host Richard Sher.
"There are no words to match this moment," began Winfrey, clad in a pink dress with ruffles cascading down the front.
But somehow Winfrey, striking a more reverent tone than the preceding days when a parade of surprise celebrity guests saluted the media mogul, found the words over the next hour to express her gratitude to her audience, her staff and even God for allowing her to fulfill her calling.
"It's no coincidence that a lonely little girl who felt not a lot of love...it's no coincidence that I grew up to feel the genuine trust, validation and love from you," she said toward the end of the show, addressing her audience in the studio and the one watching her from television sets in 150 countries.
"You and this show have been the greatest love of my life," she said, choking back tears.
With only a single pink chair on stage, Winfrey held court, telling the audience that today she would not be giving away cars nor were there any trinkets hidden beneath their seats. Instead, Winfrey used her final show, the 4,561st, to thank the audience that made hers the No. 1 talk show for its entire 25-year run.
She reminisced about her various hair styles and earrings "the size of napkins," showing a few clips from her early years, when she first came to Chicago to host "AM Chicago" before it became "The Oprah Winfrey Show."
Early on, Winfrey discovered she needed an audience to make magic and she pulled in her staff, friends and people off the street. She was soon getting feedback from her audience, citing a letter from Carrie in Anne Arbor, Mich., who wrote the first week Winfrey went national, "Watching you be yourself makes me want to be more myself."
Winfrey, who has always said she wanted to be a teacher, said her show became her classroom and in some cases she did the teaching and other times, the learning. Over her final hour on television, she reiterated the lessons that she has learned and imparted to her audience over the years.
They included finding your calling, remembering the Golden Rule, taking responsibility for your life and allowing God or grace to work in your life.
Winfrey did not shy away from invoking God, saying that the secret to her success has always been "my team and Jesus."
"God is love," she said. "God is life and your life is always speaking to you."
Winfrey implored her audience to embrace their "light and use your life to serve the world."
Through her show, Winfrey said she was able to drop the veil on people's lives and have them speak their truths, whether they were addicts, abusers or abused. Though she said she has no regrets, the one thing she wished she could have done more of was expose the horrors of child sexual abuse.
One of her proudest moments, she said, singling out Tyler Perry, was when 200 men who had been victims of sexual abuse stood in her audience holding pictures of them as boys.
After giving out a new e-mail address, firstname.lastname@example.org, Winfrey said, "I won't say goodbye, I'll just say until we meet again, to God be the glory."
Walking through the audience, she stopped to hug and kiss her steady, Graham, as well as others. Then she stood under the lights one last time, her hands outstretched as if to soak in this final moment, before leaving.
As the credits rolled, listing her Harpo team, which will remain in Chicago while she moves full-time to Los Angeles and her network OWN, Winfrey is seen kissing, hugging and crying with her staff members. The final image is of Winfrey, with her cocker spaniel Sadie tucked under her arm, walking off alone.