Bittersweet Memories of Watching the ’84th Annual Academy Awards’

The “84th Annual Academy Awards” was a celebration of cinematic wonder, honoring the talented artists who create Hollywood magic. For many film lovers, the awards ceremony is also about the annual viewing parties, where family and friends gather together to see what the celebrities are wearing, who they are with, and to predict the most winners for the evening. For me, the 2012 Oscars telecast was a bittersweet reflection of joyous moments and heartbreaking realities of a treasured television tradition.

Chapter One: The early years

My earliest memories of watching the Academy Awards go back to age seven. My mom, Elaine, raised me with great affection for movie stars, classic films and television shows.

Starting in 1968, she introduced me to the wonderful world of watching the Oscars on TV. I remember being so excited to see all the stars get their awards and to watch the big production numbers. It was simply captivating to me. The best part was listening to my mom’s honest, and often times hilarious comments on the prestigious event. Whether ranting about a hideous dress or goofy hairdo, drooling over “her boy,” Paul Newman and “my boy,” George Clooney, or mocking a really boring speech, my mother could brighten up any show.

Chapter Two: Cardboard tiaras and the infamous fudge

Throughout the years, no matter what was going on in our life, come Academy Awards time, it was me and mom in front of the television screen, all glammed out in costume jewelry and hand-made tiaras, with Oscar ballots in hand, and our traditional fudge candy by our side.

I’m not sure why the fudge, but for some reason, it became a part of our yearly awards viewing routine. Each year, we would begin the telecast by raising our candy in the air, giving one another a kiss and saying “here’s to us…we made it through another year. Let’s toast the winners and have some fun!”

Chapter Three: Cher, the streaker and “Shaft

A few of the highlights of past Academy Awards shows linger with me: Cher’s wild outfit and amazing speech when she won for “Moonstruck,” the wonderful Billy Crystal opening numbers, the “streaker” who dashed across the stage, and watching the totally cool musical performance of the “Shaft” theme song from Issac Hayes.

Chapter Four: Hooray for Hollywood

Even when I moved to Los Angeles in pursuit of a childhood dream to work in entertainment, I still kept that mother and daughter Oscar TV party alive, with long phone calls, plenty of fudge and the always amusing commentaries.

After being away for a year and a half, and with my mom now in her 80s, all I wanted was to move back home to Chicago. My beloved mama and me reunited in 2010, to watch yet another Academy Awards broadcast.

Chapter Five: A celebration of mom

The 2012 Oscar show was a loving homage to Hollywood past and present, Billy Crystal returned as host, the stage was set as a vintage movie theater, and there were sentimental clips of stars recalling their earliest movie memories.

It was also a big year for honoring the matriarchs. For me, one of the most emotional parts was seeing Melissa McCarthy and Jonah Hill with their lovely moms, and watching clips of mothers sharing stories about their famous children. It was a sweet tribute to film and family.

The final chapter

As much as I enjoyed the broadcast this year, it was very painful. For the first time in my life, I did not share the awards with my mom. She now lies in hospice care, clinging to her final days, unaware that our favorite actress, Meryl Streep, took home the gold, that “my boy,” George Clooney is just as handsome and talented as ever, or that “The Artist,” a silent movie, like the ones she used to watch as a young girl, won for best motion picture.

Through my tears, there is still great joy, because nothing will ever take away the happy times of all those fabulous Oscars TV parties. And to you, my amazing mom, I raise my pecan-filled chocolate fudge in gratitude for all the years of unconditional love and beautiful memories.

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