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Tyler Perry pens sweet tribute to late Cicely Tyson, who called him 'son'

"She was the grandmother I never had and the wisdom tree that I could always sit under to fill my cup," he wrote.
2018 TCM Classic Film Festival - Hand and Footprint Ceremony: Cicely Tyson
Tyson and Perry laugh at a ceremony in her honor at the TCL Chinese Theater on April 27, 2018.Stefanie Keenan / Getty Images for TCM
/ Source: TODAY

Director Tyler Perry is mourning the loss of actor Cicely Tyson, who died Thursday at the age of 96.

The two were famously close and Perry said in an Instagram post that he'd gotten an "overwhelming feeling" to watch Tyson's 1974 film, "The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman," on Thursday just moments before finding out she had passed away.

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"Not 12 minutes into the movie my phone rang. It was Oprah calling to tell me that Cicely had died," he said. "This one brought me to my knees! She was the grandmother I never had and the wisdom tree that I could always sit under to fill my cup."

He wrote that while his "heart breaks" one moment, he's "celebrating her life in the next."

"To think that she lived for 96 years and I got to be a part of the last 16 brings me great joy," he wrote. "She called me son. Well, today your son grieves your loss and will miss our long talks, your laughter from your belly, and your very presence. Always so regal, always so classy, always a lady, always a queen."

Tyson and Perry at the Netflix Premiere for Tyler Perry's "A Fall From Grace" on Jan. 13, 2020 in New York City.Bennett Raglin / Getty Images for Netflix

Perry ended his tribute with an anecdote about their regular interactions.

"Every time we would talk I would ask, 'How are you?' and you would say, 'I’m still here. He must have something he wants me to do,'" he wrote. "Well, I think it’s safe to say you have done all you were put here to do, and we are all better for it."

Perry got to know Tyson at the end of her life when she began appearing in his films. From the 2005 film "Diary of a Mad Black Woman” to 2011's "The Help," she worked more in her 70s than any other time in her career.

Tyson and Perry attend the Hand and Footprint Ceremony honoring Cicely Tyson during the 2018 TCM Classic Film Festival at TCL Chinese Theatre on April 27, 2018 in Hollywood.Emma McIntyre / Getty Images for TCM

Their friendship was so well-known that by Thursday evening, Perry's name began trending on Twitter as concerned fans sent their condolences for his "grandmother" Tyson.

Celebrity tributes for Tyson also poured in on Thursday.

In a statement to TODAY, Tyson's "Roots" co-star Ben Vereen wrote that "grace and elegance has left the planet."

"Thank you as we follow in your footsteps towards a higher tomorrow today," he wrote, addressing Tyson. "Thank you for the lessons you shared with all of us ... I will love you forever."