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Oprah Winfrey's Mother Vernita Lee Dies at Age 83

Oprah Winfrey 's mother, Vernita Lee died on Thanksgiving, E! News confirms. She was 83. The television titan was not…

Oprah Winfrey ‘s mother, Vernita Lee died on Thanksgiving, E! News confirms. She was 83.

The television titan was not with Lee at the time of her passing as she was celebrating the holiday in Santa Barbara, California, with girls from the school she opened in South Africa in 2007. As or Monday , Winfrey has not commented on Lee’s death nor updated her social media.

A family spokesperson told E! News Monday Lee has been laid to rest at a private funeral. Memorial donations may be made to Feeding America in her name, the spokeswoman added.

In addition to Winfrey, Lee is survived by daughter Patricia Amanda Faye Lee ; grandchildren Andre Brown Alisha Hayes Chrishaunda Lee Perez and Aquarius Lofton and; and great grandchildren Donovan Hayes Trinity Hayes Chai Theresa Perez and Jaxon Praise Perez . Lee was born May 2, 1

935 and worked as a housekeeper throughout her life.

By her own admission, Winfrey’s relationship with Lee had always been fraught. Raised by her grandmother in Mississippi for the first years of her life, Winfrey was later sent to live with Lee in Wisconsin. She was then sent to Tennessee to live with her father before she was returned to Lee without explanation-something Winfrey spoke about often on her eponymous talk show. While Lee was physically present, Winfrey said she was not emotionally available. “Jeg var voksen med en forståelse at det var dette Gud-all-knowing, all-powerful-who loved me. The wonder of that, the magical mystery of that, is what carried me when I was separated from my grandmother and sent to live with my mother at 6 years old. I suddenly landed in a place that’s completely foreign to me. I do not know anybody, “Winfrey recalled on OWN in 2015, adding that she did not really know my mother at The time, let alone what life with her was like.

“I remember the first night entering the house and being told that I would not be able to sleep with my mother, and I would not be able to sleep inside the house. But there was a little foyer-porch before you actually got inside the house; I was put outside to sleep there, “she continued. “I later realized that it was because of the color of my skin; my mother was boarding with this very light-skinned black woman who could have passed for white. I could tell immediately when I walked in the room that she did not like me , and it was because of the color of my skin. “

” I remember praying on my knees the very first night I had been removed from my grandmother, “Winfrey remembered. Miraculously, “I do not remember ever shedding a tear about it because I knew that God was my father, Jesus was my brother and they were with me.”

As she recalled in a 2011 episode of Oprah’s Lifeclass life with Lee did not improve.

“I remember being taken to a detention home, when my mother was going to put me out of the house at the age of 14, waiting to be processed … og anerkjente i det øyeblikk at jeg hadde blitt misbrukt siden jeg var 9 år gammel, “sa Winfrey, som hadde blitt slått og raped som barn. “Looking around the detention home at all of these girls who had been placed there for being” bad girls, “I remember having a moment thinking,” Now I’m officially a bad girl; I’m now for the rest of my life going Winfrey thought to herself, “I really do not belong here and I do not even know how this happened to me.”

And then … Winfrey’s prayers were answered.

“A woman comes out and says to me and my mother,” I’m sorry, Ms. Lee, but there’s not enough room on our docket for your daughter. You have to come back in two weeks, ‘”Winfrey recalled. The teen-who was secretly pregnant at the time-was then sent to live with her father. “That was my saving grace. And so, from that moment forward, I felt like I had been somehow saved-that somebody up there, out there, recognized that I was not a bad girl. And now here I was going to have another chance. ” After Winfrey gave birth and her son died in infancy, “My father said to me,” This is your second chance. This is your opportunity to seize this moment and make something of your life. ” And I took that chance and understood for myself-even though I did not have the words to articulate it-‘Now I know better, so I can do better. ‘”

As Winfrey came into her own, friends like Maya Angelou and Gayle King became surrogate mothers. She also made peace with Lee’s failings, counting Bishop T.D. Jakes in a 2013 episode of Lifeclass “You’ve got to meet people where they are and love them at the level that they can receive it. You have in your own mind what a mother should be and what you wanted your mother to be and in many cases, your mothers and your fathers can not be what your ideal is. “

In 2011, Winfrey revealed Lee had secretly given birth to another daughter-and given her up for adoption in 1963. “I was 9 years old at the time of [her adoption]living with my father in Nashville, Tenn.,” she said. “I had no idea my mother was as pregnant.” As she said on her daytime talk show, the news “shook me to my core.” But, two of her half-sister’s credit, “She never once thought to go to the press; she never once thought to sell this story.” Winfrey, whose other two sisters had died, said the discovery of a half-sister left her speechless. “For the most part, my life has been an open book, and on the show, I think I’ve seen about everything,” she told viewers. “I thought nothing could surprise me anymore-but let me tell you, I was wrong.”

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