It’s been more than a year since Marcia Gay Harden lost her mom, Beverly Bushfield, to Alzheimer’s disease. And while recently being honored at an event as an activist, actress and the author of her 2018 memoir The Seasons of My Mother, Marcia recalled the “uncomfortable” last Thanksgiving her family had in Texas with her mother before she sadly passed away.

“On the first day of our visit, I didn’t even recognize my 81-year-old mother, and it was hard to connect because she wasn’t really present, and didn’t smile or speak in complete sentences,” Marcia, 59, told People at the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Hope on the Horizon fundraiser on Monday, March 4. “But we all treated her like the beautiful person she was although we had no indication that she would pass away three weeks later.”

Actress Marcia Gay Harden and mother Beverly Harden attend the 63rd Annual Tony Awards
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During the second day of Marcia’s visit, Beverly was more focused and smiley, which made the actress and her kids, Eulala, 20, and twins Hudson and Julitta, 14, much more comfortable. “We talked about Thanksgiving and cooking, listened to music and sat around a warm fire,” the Fifty Shades of Grey actress reminisced. “While the younger children really didn’t know their grandmother, they wanted to be there.”

The visit only continued to get better. As she chatted with Beverly, Marcia said they bonded over fine china. “This kind of table setting has in some ways become a lost tradition but after seeing how beautiful it all looked while set for the Thanksgiving meal, we talked about it and I saw that mom’s spirit was still there,” the brunette beauty remembered.

Actress Marcia Gay Harden and her mother Beverley Harden at the Hamptons Magazine launch party for the new Manhattan Volvo
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She continued, “By the end of the night she was sitting at the fireplace and giving my daughter convoluted love advice. She was working to create words because she wanted us all on the same page. I was so happy to see my elegant, dignified and soft-spoken mother engaged and happy while she enjoyed the warmth of the fire.”

Unfortunately, Beverly passed away from complications from her Alzheimer’s disease three weeks after Thanksgiving. Ever since her mother was first diagnosed, Marcia has been volunteering and trying to raise awareness for the formidable illness. “I will not feel satisfaction until there is a cure for this terrible disease,” she said. “I will continue doing what I can to raise awareness.”