Oprah Winfrey opens up about her mother’s death and how she said her final goodbyes in an emotional new interview with People.
In the 64-year-old’s chat she explains how she was planning to launch Michelle Obama’s book Becoming in Chicago when she learned of how sick her mom Vernita Lee was. Lee ended up passing away on American Thanksgiving Day at age 83.
Winfrey says of their final days together, “I sat with my mother. I said, ‘I don’t know if you’re going to make it. Do you think you’re going to make it?’ She said, ‘I don’t think I am.’ I had a conversation with her about what that felt like, what it felt like to be near the end. I started telling all the people who cared about her that, ‘She knows it’s the end, so, if you want to say goodbye, you should come and say goodbye.’”
“And that’s what happened. People would come in. She would tear up when she saw them. You could see the appreciation and love she felt for them. Then, I said to her, ‘What a wonderful thing to be able to say goodbye,’ because she’s completely coherent and perfectly understanding everything.”
After recalling how she was booked to fly to Boston for a speaking engagement, Winfrey shares, “I stood in the doorway and I said, ‘goodbye.’ I knew it was going to be the last time we said goodbye, although I didn’t say to her, ‘This is the last time I’m going to say goodbye.’”
However, convinced that wasn’t how she wanted to leave it, the star ended up cancelling all her meetings and heading back to be with her mom: “I went back to Milwaukee, because I felt like I had not closed it. I felt like I knew it was the end, but I wanted to make sure she knew it was the end, and that I said everything I wanted to say.”
Winfrey also describes how her mother should have had dialysis three years ago, but had chosen not to.
“It was her choice not to do it. I said (at the time), ‘You should do whatever your body tells you to do. Nobody’s going to force you to do what you don’t want to do.’ I said, ‘You made the best decision for you, but now your body’s shutting down. This is what’s happening. Your kidneys have shut down. Your organs are going to shut down. What you want it to be, what I want it to be, is as peaceful as possible.’”