It’s been ten years since the late comedian Bernie Mac passed on. Though his Aug.9, 2008, death came as a shock to the world, no one was more shocked than his widow Rhonda McCullough.
The comedian who would’ve been 61-years-old today will now be honored for his contributions to comedy with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
For McCullough, she’s beyond ecstatic that her late husband will be receiving such a prestigious honor.
“I really couldn’t believe it,” McCullough said. “It is such an honor and a well-deserved honor, but I only wish he could’ve been here to see it and enjoy it.”
McCullough expressed that the family plans to celebrate Mac’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame by flying to California for a grand celebration.
“We’re gonna rent out a little room, and we are just gonna have a party,” McCullough said. “What we’re hoping is that it is given at a time where we have the annual purple carpet fundraiser through the Bernie Mac Foundation for Sarcoidosis.”
Born Bernard Jeffrey McCullough, Bernie Mac was known as one the Kings of Comedy and a crowd favorite for his high energy standup comedy routines.
He brought laughter to millions as a with his television series “The Bernie Mac Show” as well as a number of high profile big screen roles, including “Guess Who?” with Ashton Kutcher and “Ocean’s Eleven” with George Clooney and Brad Pitt.
Mac succumbed to a swift death due to sarcoidosis, an autoimmune deficiency disease resulting from the growth of tiny collections of inflammatory cells that appear in different parts of the body.
According to the Mayo Clinic, sometimes the condition develops gradually and produces symptoms that last for years. Other times, as in the case of Mac, symptoms can appear suddenly.
Before his death, the star was hospitalized for three weeks. McCullough spent most of her time by his side in ICU.
She said she knew that there were only two ways her beloved late husband was going to leave ICU. “Either you get better, or you pass away,” she said.
McCullough thought Mac would get better, but his condition only worsened.
She said she remembers vividly on Aug.8 approximately at 6 a.m., Mac was awake and alert. However, he couldn’t speak due to a respirator tube in his throat.
“ ‘Oh, you’re awake, you’re awake. My God.’ And I remember asking him, ‘so do you know who I am?’ ” McCullough said. “He gave me this look like, ‘girl, please!’,” she said through laughter.
Mac was headed for a procedure to receive a feeding tube. Once receiving his feeding tube, the comedian’s heart stopped, and doctors had to perform CPR. When McCullough returned to the waiting room, oddly no one was there, but at the time she thought nothing of it.
She learned at that moment that Mac was suffering from pulmonary hypertension, which is high blood pressure that affects arteries in the lungs and the heart. As the day began to end, McCullough wanted to see her lover after sitting in the waiting room for hours.
“All of a sudden I felt a cold wind passed by me and I shook, “ McCullough said.
When she stepped into the room, Mac’s eyes were bulging open, and he was trembling. McCullough begged her husband not to die. As she left the room, she kissed him on his forehead.
Mac’s daughter was also in the room, and eventually, McCullough left the room with her daughter to return to a private waiting room.
Around 2 a.m., the doctor came with an update and McCullough knew her husband was dead without even asking.
“I saw the doctor, and I knew instantly … I said, ‘he’s gone, isn’t he?’ And she said, ‘yes,’ “ McCullough said.
Through tears, McCullough said her head began racing with thoughts.
She and the late comedian had been dating since they were 16-years-old after meeting through a mutual friend.
“What am I going to do, what am I gonna do?” she thought.
Fast forward to today, McCullough is able to talk about her last moments with Mac thanks to the help of family and friends. She remarried to a man named Horace Gilmore. However, McCullough admits that dating after being with someone for over two decades wasn’t comfortable.
“From 16 to 52, I’d never been on a date,” she said.
McCullough met Gilmore through her mother and father knew him for 30 years through their church. Her first date with her second husband lasted for 13 hours.
“We went to a Bulls game, and then we went out to dinner and then I went to his apartment, and we talked and talked and talked,” McCullough said.
Thanks to a late night dream, McCullough believes that God sent her second husband.
“He walked through the door in the house, and I remember at the time I was dating my husband at the time. I said, ‘Bernard where you’ve been,’” McCullough said. “ He said, ‘oh, don’t worry about where I’ve been. I’m good.’”
During the dream, Mccullough remembers telling her new lover to leave because her husband was home, but the late comedian made her stop.
“He said, ‘no, Rhonda let him stay. It’s okay because I’m not here to stay.’”
At that moment, McCullough knew that Mac came to visit her to tell her to let him go.
While his death still leaves a wound, the joy, and happiness that he brought McCollough, their family, and comedy fans worldwide lives on forever. A well-deserved honor for a King of Comedy, McCullough thanks her late husband for making her into the woman she is today.
“It’s sad that you had to leave this earth for me to stand and shine, but now I’m standing on my own now. Thank you so much,” McCullough said.