You can't script the emotions Vicki Gunvalson had on The Real Housewives of Orange County. The Bravo reality series was filming when Vicki, the only original cast member still on the show, got the call that her mother passed away.
Vicki was attending one of Shannon Beador's Bunko party nights, the first time she played the game since RHOC's 1980s party disaster, when she spoke to her daughter, Briana. "Briana, I can't do. I don't want to believe this, she said." Her cast members Shannon, Meghan King Edmonds, Tamra Judge, Heather Dubrow and former cast member Jeana Keough rushed to her side to comfort her. Vicki's mom, Joanne Steinmetz, was 83. She wasn't sick. "How can she die on me?" Vicki asked. "I need my mother."
Heather called for Vicki's boyfriend Brooks Ayers to come get her from the party and she planned to go to Chicago to be with her family.
"I wasn't ready to stop learning from my mom," Vicki said in her confessional. "I don't know why we have to die…I'll miss my mom's spunk. She had so much love for life and she's so smart. She's the whop it up lady, at 83 she was whopping it up."
In her Bravo blog, Vicki thanked production company Evolution Media for being "so sensitive and supportive to me and my family." Vicki wrote they decided not to do an autopsy and the coroner believes her mother died of a massive heart attack or an aneurysm. "If it's ‘your time to go,' I can only say what a beautiful way to die. She was at peace with her golden retriever dog Maggie lying next to her," she wrote.
Watching the hour of TV was like "reliving a nightmare," Vicki said. "So much of that evening is like a big blur. When I watched Heather call Terry, telling him that my mom died and seeing her cry made me realize how sensitive Heather is and how fortunate I am to have her in my life. I will never forget one thing she told me sitting on Shannon's circular chair in the hallway, ‘You are who you are because of the amazing mother you had. Not everyone is blessed to have the fond memories and the closeness you had with your mother and you must carry this on through your life and know that although she isn't here anymore, she will always be with you.' Words that I will never forget, so thank you Heather," she wrote.
The other ladies were a comfort, she said. "I was glad I wasn't alone now that I look back on it, as I don't think I could have handled it by myself," she wrote. "It's been five months since my mom died and there isn't a day that goes by where I don't want to pick up the phone to ask her a question or tell her I love her. I miss her so much, but know one day I will be with her in heaven and at peace."
Check out the video tribute Bravo aired to Vicki's mother above and read her full blog now.
The Real Housewives of Orange County airs Mondays at 9 p.m. on Bravo.
(E! and Bravo are both part of the NBCUniversal family.)