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April 12, 2013
LOVE FOR MO
I have been a Bee Gee fan since I have a memory of them, probably when I was 3 or 4, and I’m almost 40 now. As a child, I was very shy and stuttered, but I could sing with no problem. My parents split when I was a tiny baby, so it was just my Mom and me, and she was 19 when she had me. She had all their records, and I remember how I would stare at the album covers and always focus on Maurice. Mom thought that was odd because he didn’t usually get much attention. Barry seemed bigger than real life, and Robin sang so emotionally with that incredible voice. Mom told me I’d pick out Maurice’s pictures from her huge collection of photos, magazines and posters. She grew up with them in the 60’s and 70’s and had gone to their concerts way back in the early 70’s. When they were on television and did shows like Dick Cavett, I would be mesmerized by Maurice. Seeing him play the piano made me want to learn how to play. I begged my Mom for a piano, and she saved for a long time to buy a small spinet. I’ll never forget the day the piano got delivered and going to my first lesson and how excited I was. When I started to practice, I would put Maurice’s picture on the piano and pretend I was playing with him. I used to sing Bee Gee songs and learned to play their most famous ones. Mom told me years later that she would sneak around the corner from the kitchen with her camera ready and try to get pictures of me. I was probably 8 or 9 and would practice for hours and sing to Maurice’s picture because he was always smiling at me. As I got older, I was getting therapy for my stutter, and my confidence grew because I loved to play the piano and sing. When I was 18, I saw my first Bee Gee concert and was in love. Watching Maurice play the keyboards was a dream and seeing how much fun he was having made me love him more. He kept waving to the fans and laughing in between songs. I loved seeing him balance his brothers because they did almost all of the lead vocals, but he was directing the band. When he’d switch instruments, I could see how talented he was, and watching a live concert was a rush. I knew of his personal battles and was inspired just looking at him. In the 90’s when he had come so far fighting his problems, I knew he was trying to be a better man, just as I was still fighting my problem. A stutter is a challenge just like an addiction. To this day, I have to stop and think carefully and try to stay calm when I face a speaking situation. It’s not easy. I was lucky enough to see Maurice perform again in 1998, and he was perfect. As far as I was concerned, he could do no wrong up on that big stage. Whenever I’m discouraged or am having a tough day, I like to believe that he is guiding all of us who have challenges in our lives. He’ll always be my inspiration.
Even though I realized how much of an impact the Bee Gees, and especially Maurice, had on my life, it still was awful when they were gone. As an addict who had walked the same path as Maurice walked for many years, I can say that I know how much love and courage it took for him to become the man he was, a man of strength and humor who also happened to be a famous musician. I think God placed love in his life to get him through the hard times. I remember listening to “Blue Island” one day when I was at a low point, thinking that it must be the best song I’d ever heard, written by a man like me who had suffered and reached a point where he knew he’d have to change or die. Barry and Robin must have been really strong to deal with Maurice at his low point. My family deals with my addiction with patience. I’m sure the music helped all the Gibbs support Maurice. Don’t you wonder what God is thinking when he gives the beauty of song to 3 men so they can create such beautiful sounds—put them on tape—record them so the world has them forever? I followed the Bee Gees through the past 25 years, huge fan, and wanted to set an example like Maurice did when he got clean. I wasn’t a religious person, but Maurice helped me in a way no one else could. The first time I prayed to God I was looking at a photo of Maurice on the “Size Isn’t Everything” album—wearing the hat with the cross on it, and that serious expression on his face. I was on my knees crying, looking at that face. The loss of Maurice affected thousands of addicts for sure. I have no doubt about that. I am going to ask God why Mo had to go when my day comes, and I guess I already know the answer. It was time.
Through detox, I couldn’t eat, sleep or think, but I could hear the music and Maurice’s voice. Crazy, huh? Not for a second have I questioned that inspiration. I do outreach now through my church, try to reach out to the lost and help feed the homeless through our food pantry and I work in the kitchen—with the Bee Gees music playing every day on the boom box that sits on top of the fridge. It is hard to explain the affect that the music has—people just smile and relax when they hear it, and I am thankful for another day to play it and another day of sobriety—-and I am thankful to Maurice Gibb.
The effect that Mo had on people is astounding! Read on….
OK. My Bee Gees story is somewhat sad because I am still relating my life to Barry and Robin and it is ironic how this story goes full circle. My Mom was the Bee Gees fan that Maurice, Robin and Barry would dream of having. She followed their music since she was old enough to talk. My Aunt Katie was 8 years-older than Mom and loved them so Mom listened to their music with her. When I was born in 1983, Mom already had decades of Bee Gees music in her head, and it was playing on the stereo all the time. She was a dynamo mother—a teacher, took care of the house, did everything for my dad and me. I loved the music as a kid and was so excited to see them with mom and Aunt Katie in ’97 in Vegas. Unbelievable to watch my mom and Aunt Katie scream like little girls and have so much fun. It was an amazing experience. I’ve never had such a great time doing anything. Remember, I as only 14, so this was wild for me to see thousands of fans going crazy. We all talked about that experience for months. Whenever they wrote new music, I was psyched to hear it. When This Is Where I Came In was released, I was as pumped as Mom and Aunt Katie to hear it. Now for the not so nice part of the story.
Jump to December of 2002 and what seemed like the end of my world at the time. I was home on college break and excited for Christmas. It was the week before Christmas. My mom was driving home from Christmas shopping and skidded on some black ice. Her car went into oncoming traffic in the next lane and she was killed instantly. There is no way to explain to anyone who has not experienced an unexpected family death what it feels like. My dad and I were in such shock that we did not accept the reality of what had occurred. I felt as though I was moving in slow motion and could not cry; my dad was numb from grief. I read somewhere that loss is like an earthquake; it swallows you up. Dad and I were lost, disjointed. This may sound cruel—think about losing someone in the immediate family. Who should die first? Crazy question..but I know that if my dad had died first, my life would have been much different because mom held the three of us together and we could not cope with this ending to our family life as it was before.
A month after mom’s death, Maurice Gibb passed away in much the same way as my mom—suddenly, unexpected. It was shocking to all Bee Gees fans, as well as to his family. The irony was not lost on me, but I was in such pain I did not want to grieve for Maurice when I was already under water drowning over my mom’s death. There was no room for more pain. It wasn’t until much later that I truly cried for him and his whole family, and then I found it hard to stop. My mom had loved him so. My mom’s death splintered our family. My dad became withdrawn to the point where he could not interact
with me. I looked so much like my mom, and I think it hurt him to be around me. We had done everything together, and now one of us was gone. So I returned to school and was alone. My Aunt Katie and I should have been able to support one another, but it did not work that way. She was lost without her sister, who was her best friend. It was as if her personality faded away, and we grew apart.
Nearly 4 years have passed, and I am still grieving, only now it is less severe. I long for the Bee Gees—listen to the music from the past, but I am so sad for Barry and Robin because it’s as though they were in the same boat as I was. Maurice’s loss splintered them, and I wanted them to be together, but I think the pain gets in the way. I know first-had how that feels. I think Robin must be inconsolable and Barry feeling helpless. The saving grace is that their music will live on. Maybe that’s not great comfort now, but it will be in the future. The music is for the fans forever. Since I am Catholic, I do believe I will see my Mom again. One day our family will be together in heaven, so if I could talk to Barry and Robin, I would tell them that the brothers will all be together again in the future and there will only be singing.