Oprah Winfrey’s long awaited interview with the family of the late Whitney Houston aired Sunday night on OWN. Winfrey spoke to Houston’s longtime manager and sister-in-law, Patricia Houston; her older brother, Gary; and her daughter, 19 year old Bobbi Kristina Brown.
The most insightful aspect of the special was with Pat Houston, who showed remarkable clarity and honesty about Whitney and her demons. When asked about the first warning signs that Whitney was in trouble, Pat pointed out “The end of the 90s.”
Unlike so many who have leaned towards blaming ex-husband Bobby, Pat said that she herself got along with Bobby quite well, and that she refused to blame Bobby for introducing Whitney to drugs. She said they seemed to get along well, but it was difficult to have a healthy relationship with both of their lives being so publicly scrutinized.
“There was always so much outside interference … You’re talking about two people who started out in the business very, very young,” said Pat.
She also was open about the attempts to get Whitney off drugs, insisting that as her manager, she saw nearly every part of Whitney’s journey, the good and the bad… and during those bad times she often tried to get her help.
“Without a doubt … In 2003, 2004, I had spoken to Bobby’s mother…We were always trying, but the choice was always theirs, and hers.”
Ultimately, she admitted that Whitney losing her life to drug use in some ways seemed inevitable.
“The handwriting was kind of on the wall. I would be kidding myself to say otherwise.”
“I hear screams. I kept walking very slow. A woman opened her door and said, ‘Is everything all right?’ I said ‘Dial 911.'” But she didn’t know why she said that … I knew something was wrong. I didn’t know what. I was just numb. I walked … I turn the corner, Mary’s at the door and she’s screaming, ‘Oh my god.’ I told her to stop. ‘Calm down, please.'”
Pat got to the room.
“I saw my brother Ray trying to revive her to the point of exhaustion. The paramedics were coming in at that point. I said, ‘Ray, let it go.'” … He was so out of breath. I felt so badly for him.”
At that moment, she said that Whitney, who was found face-down in the tub moments earlier, now lay on the floor, and looked peaceful. Her daughter Bobbi Kristina was down the hall, unaware of the events taking place.
Now, Pat says, “I always will stand for her, because that’s what she would have wanted.”
As for Whitney now? Says Pat, “She’s at peace. There are no more struggles. She doesn’t have to struggle with certain decisions. God’s got it. She’s got the ultimate protector – someone that she believed in, I mean truly believed in.”
Daughter Bobbi Kristina appeared in the first initial minutes of the program for an impromptu interview while everyone was still standing – she said that she’s “doing good… doing as good as I possibly can.”
Bobbi Kristina is currently staying at Whitney’s home, with her aunt Pat checking in daily, living nearby.
She also says she feels her mother every day, even in things that happen around the house.
“Lights turn on and off and I’m like, ‘Mom, what are you doing?’ I can still laugh with her and still talk to her.” She says she plans to sing and act and dance, and carry on her mother’s legacy.
Whitney’s brother Ray spoke of Cissy Houston, Whitney’s mother, saying “It’s hard for her. The gift came through her.”
Oprah said that she had spoken to Cissy as recently as the day before to ask how she was doing, and Cissy told her “sometimes I’m not doing,” but she also referred to the scandal surrounding the leaked photo of Whitney Houston lying in her casket. Cissy says that she is not angry, but Ray and Pat acknowledged their disappointment that the photo was leaked and printed in a tabloid.
Both Pat and Ray sat together to share their reflections on Whitney’s passing. Both of them felt that although they will miss her terribly, they had found some closure, thanks to their many special moments with her.
Both of them, though, shared genuine sadness for Whitney’s mom Cissy, who remains tortured by her passing. Ray acknowledged though, that it seems Cissy had known all along that Whitney’s life may be cut short. He says that Cissy had often told him, “Whitney’s not gonna be with us too long… she’s an angel, she’s a gift.”
Pat felt peace in the many moments they’ve had along Whitney’s legendary career, but again thought back to Cissy: “If I could bring her back just for her mother to have closure, that’s what I would want for her mom… she wanted to see her so badly, and the pain that she’s feeling right now, because she didn’t make it to her.”
For additional music updates and entertainment news, follow @BrianBalthazar on twitter.