On Mother’s Day, socialite, actress, and clothing designer Kathy Hilton will be celebrating with daughters Paris and Nicky, as well as sons Baron and Conrad. But, she’ll be missing her deceased mom.
“I had the most wonderful mother in the world, who passed away very young, a month before her 63rd birthday.” It was not unusual for them to speak on the phone up to 20 times daily.
When Kathy grew up, there were no nannies in sight. She was always the mother who would pick her and her friends up from school. “We’d go to my house and she would chauffer us all over.”
The duo was extremely close, particularly because her parents divorced when she was three. “She basically raised me alone.” When her mother Sharon remarried, Kathy took his name, Richards. “He was a wonderful dad, who was about 20 years older. Here, I thought I’d have them forever.”
But then there was the call that no one wants to receive. “She called, started crying, and said that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. I was in a state of disbelief. She suffered with the diagnosis for six years.”
Her mom’s strength helped her through difficult situations. “I’ve been very blessed. We don’t have to go into it, but when the unfortunate situation with Paris’ video broke, I needed my mom. She was so open and kind and honest. She gave unconditional love and support.”
When her mother passed away, Kathy barely coped. “I was just numb. I talked to a therapist a couple of times about it, but I was also raised that you don’t do that. As young and cool as she was in her day, a psychiatrist was not in her vocabulary.
“She loved my girls, and being a young grandmother, she was like a second mom. The beautiful part when my mother passed away was, my two younger sisters were all sitting around saying, ‘I’m the favorite; I’m the favorite.’ Here, we all thought that we were her favorite, but I really am the favorite! So, everybody started laughing.” (Sisters Kyle and Kim appear on The Housewives of Beverly Hills.)
“I spoke at the funeral, as did my sisters, husband, and Paris. I just looked up and said, ‘I can’t believe you’re not here with us and we love you.’ I think she’s still with me. I believe she is.”
And then there is Rick Hilton, who Kathy describes as the rock of the family. “As strong as people may think I am, I’m really not. Honestly, meeting my husband at 15 and getting married at 19 was good.”
Her mom was at home when she died. On that fateful day, the nurses set her up by the big family room kitchen. It was five-thirty in the morning. All of a sudden, the water went on, and pots started clanking, and drawers started opening and shutting. The nurse said that there are certain people who are not ready to go and outside forces happen. It’s sad.
“She taught me to say thank you to everyone. I think it’s important to let people know how you feel. I’m a very supportive person. I am the kind of person that, if somebody calls me at three in the morning, I’m there.”
Sue Facter owns a news agency that specializes in the luxury brand. Her work appears in USA Today, Los Angeles Times, Women’s Day Australia, as well as on broadcasts and the web.