Oprah Winfrey’s mother, Vernita Lee, died in her Milwaukee home on Thanksgiving at the age of 83, her family announced Monday. Lee gave birth to her famous daughter in 1954, naming her Orpah—though she quickly became known as Oprah since everyone mispronounced it. Winfrey had a difficult relationship with her mother during childhood, who struggled financially as a maid and single parent. Winfrey lived with her grandmother until the age of six, and later moved to live with her father in Tennessee. Lee appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show in 2011 with Patricia Amanda Faye Lee, Winfrey’s sister who was put up for adoption when Winfrey was eight years old. Winfrey gave birth to her own child, who was the result of a rape, at the age of 14, but the baby died soon after birth. On her show, Winfrey said she has made peace with Lee’s decision to give up her sibling. “To my mother, I say, You can let this shame go,” she said.
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