Queen Latifah Recalled Caregiving for Her Mom Rita Owens Who Trusted Her with Her Life
Queen Latifah always had a special relationship with her mother, Rita Owens, who passed away in 2018 after a decade-long battle with a heart condition. For years, the actress and singer was her mother’s caretaker, a role that, while challenging, only brought them closer.
Queen Latifah, real name Dana Owens, has been in the entertainment industry for three decades, but while she’s known for her outgoing and strong personality, the “Girls Trip” star likes to keep her personal life out of the spotlight.
Queen Latifah at the Black Girls Rock! 2018 Red Carpet on Aug. 26, 2018 in New Jersey | Photo: Getty Images
However, back in 2015, she made an exception and following her mother’s desire, shared with the world that Rita Owens was battling a heart condition and an autoimmune disease that affected her lungs.
OPENING UP ABOUT HER CONDITION
Owens, a high school teacher, was diagnosed with heart failure in 2004 after she collapsed in school and had to be rushed to the hospital. Since then, Latifah became her mother’s number one caregiver and supporter.
Queen Latifah and her mother Rita Owens attends the VH1's "Dear Mama" taping at St. Bartholomew's Church on May 2, 2016 | Photo: GettyImages
Heart failure is a chronic and progressive condition in which the heart fails to pump the required blood for the body to function correctly.
Owens had a defibrillator implanted in her chest, which alongside the proper medications and a diet low on salt and fats, helped her to live with the condition for over a decade.
The mother of two told People in 2015 that after being diagnosed, she entered a “valley.”
A LIFESTYLE CHANGE
A pretty active woman most of her life, who raised two kids alone while working several jobs and still going to college, Owens found herself being unable to complete the most basic chores, like sweeping or mopping.
“I found myself becoming a recluse,” Owens said. “You have to understand your body is not processing the same way it was before. I started counting the things I can’t do instead of the things I can do. And I said, ‘Nope, this is not acceptable.’”
It was with Latifah’s encouragement and prayer that Owens found her way back to a closer version of herself.
And that’s why she and Latifah decided to share their story as part of a PSA for the American Heart Association’s Rise Above HF campaign.
LATIFAH’S CARETAKER ROLE
Being a hardworking woman and taking care of a sick family member can be exhausting, but Queen Latifah was up for the challenge.
She insisted until her mother moved to Los Angeles, where she was working back then, and alongside a team of family members, close friends and a nurse made sure to assist Owens in every little thing she needed.
“We’ve learned a new us,” Latifah told People of the change the diagnose brought into their relationship. “We’ve gotten a lot closer, and we’ve learned each other on a whole different, deeper level.”
In an interview with the AARP, Latifah also explained that with her role of caregiver came more responsibilities because she knew her mother was trusting her with her life.
Queen Latifah during the 2018 Essence Festival in New Orleans, Louisiana on July 6, 2018 | Photo: Getty Images
She also became the “bad guy,” involuntarily, whenever she had to set boundaries, for example, with unhealthy meals that weren’t good for her mom’s health.
“I grew with thick skin for the public and other things, but I’ve never had thick skin for my own family, for my mom. But there are things that I had to be strong for her,” Latifah explained.
On March 21, 2019, Latifah shared through a statement the sad news of Rita’s passing.
“Anyone that has ever met her knows what a bright light she was on this earth. She was gentle, but strong, sweet, but sassy, worldly but pragmatic, a woman of great faith and certainly the love of my life.”
She also mentioned how Rita had struggled with a heart condition for years, but her battle was finally over. And although heartbroken, Latifah said she at least knew her mom was not at peace.
Latifah had a hard time after her mom’s passing. Still, according to several news sites, last year, she found a silver lining when she allegedly welcomed her first child with rumored partner Eboni Nichols.
Nichols has been pointed out as Queen Latifa’s partner for years. They met at “Dancing with the Stars” in 2013 and have been together since then.
Queen Latifah and Eboni Nichols attend the Film Independent at LACMA special screening of "Bessie" at LACMA on May 9, 2015 | Photos: GettyImages
However, Latifah has never addressed the rumors about her sexuality of her relationship, following with her conviction of keeping her private life out of the spotlight.
Latifah will not reveal the truth about her family, but if the rumors are right, it’s good to see her moving on with life. Rita would be proud.
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