Oprah details emotional last days with late mother Vernita Lee and their final conversations

Edduin Carvajal
Dec 12, 2018
05:12 P.M.

Vernita Lee, the mother of Oprah Winfrey, passed away on Thanksgiving Day (November 22). The host opened up about their last days together.


During the interview Oprah had with People, she revealed that her sister, Patricia, called her saying that she thought their mother was about to die. The host and actress surprised her mother in the hospice care in Milwaukee where she found Vernita sitting in a room “where it’s 80 degrees.”

The following day, Oprah went to Chicago for Michelle Obama’s book launch and came right back to the hospice to be with her mother. Once there, she 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.’”


After that, Oprah contacted the people who cared about Vernita to let them know that she was about to die, so if they wanted to say goodbye, that was the moment. The octogenarian lady would cry with every person who visited her.

The actress even told Vernita that being able to say goodbye was “a wonderful thing,” something that was possible because her mother was “completely coherent and perfectly understanding everything."


Oprah was supposed to go to Boston for a speaking engagement, but before leaving, she stood in the doorway and said goodbye. Even though she believed it would be the last time they talked to each other, she didn’t say to her “this is the last time I’m going to say goodbye.”

It was not the final goodbye, though. After Boston, Oprah canceled several meetings in California and went back to Milwaukee. The host wanted to make sure that Vernita knew it was the end and that she said everything she wanted to say.


“I waited for a way to say what I wanted to say. I couldn’t find it that day. The next morning, I woke up and I was actually praying for, ‘What is a way I can have this conversation about the end? How do I close it?’ I just thought, ‘What is the truth for me? What is it that I need to say?'” revealed the actress.

Oprah then thought about her friend Wintley Phipps, a Gospel singer, and asked him to sing “Precious Lord” via FaceTime, which he agreed. After playing some music, Oprah noticed that her mother “opened a little bit,” what made her realize it was the perfect moment to say what she needed to say.


“What I said was, ‘thank you. Thank you, because I know it’s been hard for you. It was hard for you as a young girl having a baby, in Mississippi. No education. No training. No skills. Seventeen, you get pregnant with this baby.”

Oprah added, “lots of people would have told you to give that baby away. Lots of people would’ve told you to abort that baby. You didn’t do that. I know that was hard. I want you to know that no matter what, I know that you always did the best you knew how to do. And look how it turned out.'”


Patricia was also in the room at that moment, and she told Vernita, “please, forgive yourself because I’ve forgiven you for giving me away.” Oprah pointed out that it was a “sacred and beautiful” goodbye.

At the end of the interview with People, the actress advised people to say whatever they needed to say while people were still alive. Otherwise, they would regret about “what you would’ve, should’ve, could’ve said.”

It is important to point out that Oprah and Vernita didn’t live together until she was six years old, what made their relationship very rocky. Thankfully, it all improved over the years.

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