December 6, 2013
This is one of the very first face-to-face stories I was told (several years ago) and it’s been in my files waiting for me to share it and put it into the book. (I did share it with Barry when I sent him several stories many months ago). I feel that it’s my best Maurice story, and I’ve had scores of people share their thoughts about Mo with me since the year 2000. Hope you love it as much as I do.
My Bee Gee story starts with a funeral. My wife of 10 years, Alex, died from ovarian cancer in 1995, and I was left to raise my son Lucas alone. I was home on disability at the time after a fall at work left me with a back injury that caused serious pain most of my waking hours. The doctors prescribed strong pain killers, and it wasn’t long before I was popping pills two at at time. Alex was the Bee Gee fan in the house, and my son, who was 8 at the time, knew the lyrics to every song from “Run to Me” to “Alone” because his mom had been singing Bee Gees to him since birth. She was mad about Maurice Gibb from her childhood days. She said that Barry seemed untouchable (out of her realm), Robin was the introspective one, and Maurice was her potential best friend. When I started dating her in high school, I knew that there would be three of us in the relationship. When we got married, Alex wanted to have a child right away, and we had our son Lucas after 18 months of marriage. Now Lucas was introduced to Mo. We had pictures of him, articles about him, discussions about his alcoholism and recovery. He was the 4th member of our family. Our friends used to joke to me that I should be worried she would leave me one day and move to Miami or else she would follow him around the world whenever the Bee Gees decided to do their next tour. I had decided that whenever they did decide to tour, I would get tickets to a show so Alex could be in the same space with Maurice at least for one night. She always said that his smile could “light up a city”, and when he was on stage, he “glowed” from the sheer fun of being there.
She was happy that he had such a great wife in Yvonne. That was typical of Alex. Instead of being jealous about her “dream man”, she wanted him to be happy. She knew that Yvonne was his rock just as she was mine. She had gotten Maurice through his fire, and Alex was going to help me through mine. I had a problem, and she was determined to help me, but then she suddenly got sick with a particularly aggressive form of cancer. The disease was in an advanced stage, and she died in two months. She was gone before I had the chance to understand how to cope in the first place with a wife who had a terminal illness. The funeral and subsequent weeks were a blur. I was in too much pain to care about anything or anyone. I am not proud of what happened next, but it was my reality. I think the grief over losing my wife, coupled with my back pain and pill addiction, sent me over the edge. I will cut to the chase. I stopped paying bills, lost everything when I started buying pills on the street to supplement my need for more. I was self-destructing and taking my son with me. The house went into foreclosure, the car got repossessed, and Lucas and I wound up in a shelter run by our local church. My family was across the country in Seattle, and I couldn’t ask them for help. My friends were unsure about what was happening because I lied to them, and I finally hit rock bottom. I soon learned that this is all all too real scenario for many people. There is nothing worse than being in a shelter with your kid during the holidays. It was Christmas Eve day, and I had single -handedly put my son in the worst possible place, or so I thought. Then the Maurice miracle occurred. Give me a stack of Bibles, and I will swear on them that this is so. Around 11 a.m. that morning, a group of people started coming into the “rec” room of the shelter. Someone set up a coffee pot and started it perking. Someone else brought in cookies and set them on the table, and unfolded the wooden chairs that were leaning against the concrete wall, placing them in a semi-circle near the coffee table. I didn’t know if I should leave or stay. One of the men walked over and assured me that I didn’t have to leave. It didn’t take long for me to realize that the group was there for an AA meeting. I sat in the back of the room, trying to be unobtrusive, but I was listening to everything that went on. Lucas went into the next room and had fallen asleep while reading a comic book. As the meeting was winding down, one of the members of the group stood up and offered some quotes. The quotes were from Maurice Gibb. I remember the word “unworthiness” and then some of his thoughts that my wife had repeated to me before. She would quote him time and time again. They all started coming back to me. It was as if Alex had arranged the whole experience. Hearing Maurice’s name being spoken by these people in such a setting was moving and humbling. I was surprised to hear someone other than my wife talking about HER Bee Gee. It was a turning point for me. It has been three years since that day, and my son and I are doing much better. I am back at work; we are in a small condo. My rehabbing took some time, but I did it one day at a time, and I am getting healthy. We miss Alex and will always love her, but we are getting stronger every day. My son and I listen for new Bee Gee music just as we play all of our old albums, and I want you to know something. My wife’s photo is on the sideboard table in the den. Next to it is her favorite photo of Maurice Gibb. He is still part of our family.