DALLAS — On one of her final shows Thursday, Oprah Winfrey chose to highlight the story of Erin Kramp and her family.
The Dallas mother died of breast cancer in 1998, but not before leaving hundreds of hours of taped messages for her then six-year-old daughter.
The family is now bonded by the legacy of Erin.
"Hi Peyton," she told her daughter in one of the last messages. "This is Erin, your mother. I've got some topics I would like to talk about."
She went on to talk to her daughter about boys, make-up, childhood adversities and many other topics.
Since her death, the family said they have seen miracles develop out of her messages.
"Just having those tapes, diaries and letters kept her still in my life," Peyton said.
Now, it’s a life that includes a stepmother, Cheryl. It was part of Erin's desire for her husband. She wanted him to move on and find love.
"Just to know that she not only encouraged it but also prayed about it, not only for me but to help with Peyton," said Doug Kramp, Peyton's father.
Then came what Doug now sees as divine intervention, how he met Cheryl.
It was a love story with several twists. One of Cheryl’s friends sent Doug and Peyton a sympathy card and ended up on Doug’s Christmas card list. Cheryl’s friend received cards for several years. Finally, at a Christmas brunch, she brought the card with Doug’s picture and told her friend she needed to go out with him.
Cheryl took a look at the card and was shocked; she had already met Doug at her gym. Not only did she know him, he had asked her out several times.
"I would see her over there and say "hi," and even got her number," Doug recalled. "But, she wouldn’t return my calls. Every few months, I would give it a try and get rejected."
Cheryl and her friends thought it was God intervening. So, Cheryl promised her friend she would go out with Doug. The very next day at the gym, she ran into him.
“I turn around and literally bang into him," she recalled.
She agreed to go out with Doug and now they’re married.
“It really was God how we came together," she said.
"There's been incredible blessings and still one of hope, courage and faith," Doug said.
Cheryl said it wasn’t easy stepping into the situation, but said she is blessed and loves Peyton like her own child.
“She embraced me from the get go," Cheryl said. "She loved me and wanted a new tangible mother in her life ... She said, 'I want to call you mom;' so I said, "I would love for you to call me mom."
On Oprah Thursday for the first time, Doug released the very last messages from his now deceased wife.
Erin talked about how grateful she was for her journey and how God strengthened her faith. She thanked God, her family and friends.
Peyton said her mother’s messages have become harder to watch as she gets older, but she said she continues to be grateful they are there for support.
“I can't touch her," she said. "I can't see here, but I can really feel her on days when I am missing her. Random things will pop up and I think, 'Wow, mom is still here.'”
Now, Peyton relies on the strength of two mothers - one in her memories and another in her life.