Oprah: Speaking of war, had you planned to say what you did in your recent Emmy speech—"If mothers ruled the world, there wouldn't be any goddamn wars in the first place"?

Sally: I didn't. I knew I wanted to say something about mothers because of my role on the show. On the series, my character's son is going to Iraq, and he has been in Afghanistan, which he is troubled by. I wanted to say that I owe this to the mothers of the world who stand and wait for their children to return from harm's way. Up until then, the ceremony had been so subdued and numbed. I thought, "We're giving each other awards while people are over there killing each other?" When I said the word "war," everybody woke up and the room erupted. My mind was scrambling: "Don't forget what you're going to say!" Then the signal for a commercial break came, and my mistake was that I added the word "God" and the word "damned" in front of the word "war." But when it comes to war, I think it's the only thing God would actually damn. I strongly believe that. To have a mother's sensibility, you don't need to be female; you don't even have to have children. You just need to have a soul that cares about the future more than you care about yourself. That's what mothering is—laying down your life for the young so they can grow up into full people.

Oprah: I never heard it put that way before. Now that your mother has moved in with you, do you feel you've come full circle as a daughter and as a mother?

Sally: Yes. My mother is older now and she really shouldn't be alone; her health isn't perfect. It's time for me to be around her in a way that I haven't been before, and I'll be grateful to have had this time. I must force myself to use it and not be annoyed when I don't want to deal with doing the daughter thing at a given moment. When I'm in the kitchen, she'll sit and watch me, and I have to stop what I'm doing and consciously remind myself to be there with her. That doesn't come naturally for me. I have to stay with her, especially through this scary health time.

Oprah: Speaking of health, you've done commercials about osteoporosis.

Sally: I have it myself. I'm trying to get the message out to women to ask for a bone density test at the same time that they go in for a Pap smear. One out of every two women over age 50 will suffer an osteoporosis-related fracture, yet people don't realize how huge a threat this is. Some women think, "Well, hell, then I won't ski or Rollerblade anymore when I get older." But when your bones lose density, they become like chalk; you can break your hip or spine simply by sitting down on a hard bench. You can fracture your back by picking up a bag of groceries.

Oprah: Throughout your career, you've always seemed to have this quality of vitality and happiness. Are you happy?

Sally: I don't know what happiness is. I have periods of feeling joyous and peaceful and excited about what I'm doing, but I am also frequently very sad. There's a great deal of longing inside me, as well as anger. Every now and then, moments of bliss come in little shots of light.


Next Story