Sunday, July 29, 2001

Paul betrothed

Letting go of the cute Beatle

        The first time Paul McCartney announced marriage plans, I was devastated. I had always assumed there might be a future for us. Even though Paul and I were not dating at the time. Or, actually, ever in the same city together. But we were young — there was still time.

        Then, before our romance had a chance to bloom, he threw me over for an older woman. Not older than Paul. Older than I. And she was, in my opinion at the time, completely unsuitable. Millions of teen-age girls all over the world agreed with me.

        This divorcee with a child — which is what we used to call single mothers — snagged The Cute Beatle, the best one. They were married in 1969 in London. They “had to,” we told ourselves. She was four months' pregnant. I knew it would never last.

Anguished Sir Paul
        And, sure enough, three decades later, they parted.

        Linda Eastman McCartney died of breast cancer in April of 1998. An anguished Sir Paul McCartney told reporters, “I am privileged to have been her lover for 30 years, and in all that time except for one enforced absence, we have never spent a single night apart. Our family is so close that her passing has left a huge hole in our lives.”

        They sent their kids to public school. “My kids are lovely, kind kids and they didn't want to go to a snooty private school,” Linda said. “I would never send my kids away to school because I love them too much and want to be with them.”

        Linda and Paul worked together. She played keyboards and sang backup in two of her husband's post-Beatles bands. “I wasn't that good,” she said, “but it was a way to be together.” Paul McCartney insisted that every one of the love songs he wrote after 1968 was about Linda.

        As she lay dying, he told her to imagine, “You're up on your beautiful Appaloosa stallion. It's a fine spring day. We're riding through the woods. The bluebells are all out, and the sky is clear blue.”

        Before he finished, he said, “She closed her eyes and gently slipped away.”

        He cried at her funeral, and his friends described him as “shipwrecked.”

        In other words, he did absolutely everything he could for her when it mattered.

        Last week, Sir Paul announced that he is engaged to marry Heather Mills, variously designated as a former swimsuit model and an activist. Paul — and how can this be? — is 59 years old. Ms. Mills is 33.

Adolescent carping
        And some of the same adolescent carping begins. Has it been long enough? Is she too young? Is it disloyal?

        I never had a chance to meet Paul's wife. Again, we were never in the same city together. But we were, in a manner of speaking, in the same boat.

        Breast cancer.

        By the time Linda was diagnosed, I had passed my important five-year survival mark with the help of the very nice man who married me after Paul was no longer available. The man who waited with me for test results, who sat in the surgery waiting room, who set the alarm clock to give me my anti-nausea pills during chemo. Who insisted right after my diagnosis that I buy an outrageously expensive pair of riding boots.

        “Worth the money,” he said. “Because they'll last.” His way of telling me that I would not die.

        This time, I am happy for Paul McCartney. I have matured. Besides, I have a crush on somebody else.

       E-mail Laura at or call 768-8393.


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