As Bob McLaren's wife was dying, she made a surprising wish that he seeks out his old love interest DeeDee who he hadn't seen in four decades.
When sexagenarian Bob McLaren's wife, Jo, became aware of her end after losing her battle against cancer in 2015, she made an extraordinary last wish—for Bob to move on and find love, especially with someone whom he was hopelessly in love with over 40 years ago. Little did Bob know that Jo’s wish would finally reunite him with DeeDee Zweibel, his star-crossed lover.
“Jo wanted me to carry on with my life and have another relationship after she died,” Bob told the Mirror. Keeping his promise to Jo, a nervous Bob reached out to DeeDee, an actress and dancer, whom he met on a cruise ship four decades ago where he was playing with his band. While the lovers enjoy matrimonial bliss now, their incredible journey towards finding each can put most romantic classics to shame.
As a 23-year-old Bob laid his eyes on 26-year-old DeeDee who was assisting a magician, he was smitten instantly. “My bandmates said, ‘She’s way above you, Bob,’ but I didn’t listen. I just knew she was the girl for me,” revealed Bob. An unexpected bout of sickness served as the spark that set of their whistle-stop love story. “Bob caught a tropical virus so I slipped a get well card under his cabin door,” said DeeDee, who has spent most of her life performing on the seas and has lived in the US.
Spurred by her gesture, Bob took DeeDee on a date to the ship’s bar after recovering. “After that night, we were stuck together like glue. We had this raw chemistry I’d never felt before,” he expressed. As they continued to perform at sea, their three-month-old romance continued to brew as they made shore at exotic destinations such as Australia, Barbados, and Japan.
Initially, the couple decided to set up their love nest in Bob’s home country—Scotland. However, DeeDee could not go through with the plan, leaving the young man heartbroken. Recalling that she was not ready for such a commitment, she said, “I was an independent woman who had to sow her wild oats. I was fickle and didn’t trust my feelings. He cared about me and I loved him but I wasn’t in love with him.”
Despite being devastated by the end of their passionate yet brief relationship, Bob decided to send his lady love a mixed tape after returning home. “I got a tape in the mail full of songs by Shirley Bassey, Rod McKuen. I read his words ‘It’s alright, my love’ as I played the tape and I got goosebumps all over,” recounted DeeDee. Though she invited Bob to LA to be with her, he was unable to do so due to his mother’s health—something that he did not share with DeeDee.
As the years rolled by, they moved on with their lives. Making a career as a civil servant, Bob married his first wife, Helen, and had four children with her. DeeDee continued to pursue her career as a dancer and actress. Nevertheless, they were always at the back of each other’s minds. Bob would never cease to regale friends and family about DeeDee, she could not stop reminiscing about her time with a handsome musician.
Sadly, fate chose to strike Bob’s life not once but twice. After 31 years of a happy marriage, he lost Helen to leukemia. His second wife, Jo, also fell prey to sickness. “Jo was diagnosed in 2009, just two weeks after our honeymoon, and I nursed her through the illness for six years,” said Bob. After Jo passed away in 2015, Bob was widowed for a second time at the age of 64.
Distraught that Bob was losing a companion again, Jo wanted to ensure that he would not be alone after she departed. The couple attended counseling to deal with the inevitable. That is when the dying made a rather unusual request to the father of four. “Jo wanted me to carry on with my life and have another relationship after she died,” said Bob.
Jo insisted that he reacquaint himself with old pals, specifically “the actress from LA” that Bob always talked about. While the awkwardness of the conversation was weighing in on Bob, an innocent query from his grandson drove him to act on the promise he made to his wife. “After Jo died, James came by and saw her empty bed and asked, ‘Grandad, when are you going to get another wife?’” explained Bob.
Finally, in October 2016, an anxious Bob mustered the courage to write to the woman who clearly was the love of his life after finding her on Facebook. He admitted: “It wasn’t hard to find DeeDee as her surname is uncommon but I still panicked when I found her profile. I knew it was her straight away.”
Though DeeDee was glad to hear from Bob after forty years, she could not believe the effect time had had on the dashing young man she once knew. “I thought of him often over the years but my jaw dropped when I saw his picture. It wasn’t Bob, no way, it had to be a mistake. He didn’t look like the man I knew. He was bigger, he had no hair!” she confessed.
And as if these forty years had never occurred, the two took to each other again like a house on fire. They began corresponding on daily basis. As Bob won over DeeDee again with poetry, she invited him again to the US.
“I pounced on him and it shocked the hell out of me. I think it shocked Bob, too. We hit it off like we’d never left each other. You don’t expect to have those feelings when you’re approaching 70!” raved DeeDee.
Soon, the duo was faced with an uncomfortably familiar situation. While Bob wanted to commit to her, DeeDee was unsure, just like she was four decades ago. “DeeDee was scared about changing her life. She still couldn’t trust herself and needed time,” conveyed Bob.
This time, however, luck played its part well and made the decision for DeeDee easier through an unexpected source—an immigration officer told Bob that he required a proper visa. “The only one that suited me was a spousal visa and DeeDee said, ‘I suppose we’re gonna get married!’”
As if it had not made the lovers wait long enough to be together, fate kept them apart for another seven months as the documentation required for Bob to settle in LA was underway. Though they were in constant correspondence, the agony of separation stung them. “We were so miserable without each other,” said DeeDee. “Bob put a bunch of weight back on and I started smoking but we are so happy now,” she added.
DeeDee joked that she had to tell her family that she was pregnant with Bob’s child, and hence she had to marry him. “That made their jaws drop!” said an amused DeeDee. After forty long years, Bob, 69, and DeeDee, 72, were finally married in 2020. What do the newlyweds have to say about each other? “We are soulmates,” declared Bob. “We say and think the same things and we couldn’t live without each other. All I know is, it was meant to be,” he concluded.