Oh, you no! RHOBH (The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills) cast member Lisa Rinna got one hell of a shock while preparing for the holiday: she found out that her 85-year-old mother, Lois, had passed away on the same day of the family’s very first Thanksgiving without her.
The reveal had a huge impact on The Don’t Be Tardy star, who mourned the loss of her mother by carrying around a place mat in her hand during the table read on the sitcom’s first, inaugural season in 2009. On an episode of Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen, Rinna explained that she and her sisters constantly battled with their late mother over the family’s Thanksgiving tradition, and now, it’s all about honoring her memory.
“[My sisters and I] were fighting over what we had to do, like, where we could tell our friends and family that we were going to the table or put it on the table, and if you sit at the table, or you don’t sit at the table, it’s not in the family,” Rinna told Cohen. “Now that she’s gone, we have a place mat, it looks like a place mat. We put a place mat down and we just all cry. It’s really, really weird but it’s amazing. We all come together for Thanksgiving and then, the next day she passed away. It’s pretty cool.”
Rinna and her family are now spending her mom’s birthday and other recent events with her ex-husband, actor Harry Hamlin, whom she married last month. For his birthday, Rinna turned the spare room of their Hollywood Hills home into a “museum” of Hamlin’s nearly three-decade career. The space, which doubles as a bar and guesthouse for family and friends, was filled with memorabilia, including his 1989 USC jersey and lyrics to the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off that his sister-in-law, actress and model Janice Dickerson, gives out to guests as a birthday gift. Rinna said it would be her family’s next big project.
“We’re just decorating the house,” Rinna explained. “Last week was [my mom’s] birthday, which was super, super special; it was like everything was packed. We’re going to spend the rest of the summer decorating the house. We just had a bunch of stuff going on and just the cupcakes, it’s kind of sad, but it’s nice. Harry’s kind of like the best. I can’t think of a better gift than just keeping this house!”
In fact, as new mom-to-be Rinna told the Housewives panel on the December 9 episode of RHOBH, “I made sure my husband saw [my mom] the other day! I didn’t tell him I was home. It was just a sad day, but it’s Christmas and I’m having a baby soon. So this isn’t goodbye, it’s just good-bye, and I’m going to get a new home! And that’s the best advice I’ve ever got: You always should have a new home.”