"When my children used to walk in the room, when they were little, I looked at them to see if they had buckled their trousers or if their hair was combed or if their socks were up," she told Oprah in 2000. "You think your affection and your deep love is on display because you're caring for them. It's not. When they see you, they see the critical face. But if you let your face speak what's in your heart...because when they walked in the room, I was glad to see them. It's just as small as that, you see."
Toni's comment has become one of The Oprah Show's most profound lessons and has touched the hearts of many viewers—including Gennece, who says that hearing Toni's lesson changed her. "My daughter ended up dying of cancer," she says. "And the last two years [of her life], every time she would come home—whether it was from chemo or a party or the grocery store—I would always say, 'Niecy's home! Niecy's home!' And she would get so excited. ... That made a difference in my life. And now when children are in my space, it's authentic that my eyes light up, because my heart lights up."
After all these years, Toni has one more lesson to offer Oprah Show viewers: Everyone needs to have a place that is all theirs. "It's just a place where it's you," she says. "It can be creative, it can be a computer, it can be anything. It's your sacred place and you own it."