He lost his mother when he was 14. Years later, he met the love of his life and said, "It was as if my mum had sent me her." But he had the same dreadful experience.
Losing your mother at any age is devastating. Losing your mother as a child can force one to grow up faster than they have to. Paul McCartney was just 14 years old when he lost his mother, Mary McCartney, to breast cancer in 1956. Years later, history painfully repeated itself when he lost the love of his life, Linda Eastman, to the same deadly disease just months before the couple was to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary.
It was one of the most shocking moments of his teenage years to know that his mother was no more. It was also the first time he saw his father break down. "My mother's death broke my dad up. That was the worst thing for me, hearing my dad cry," Paul McCartney said, as reported by The Beatles Bible. I'd never heard him cry before. It was a terrible blow to the family. You grow up real quick, because you never expect to hear your parents crying."
Years later, as his name rose to fame and The Beatles climbed to the top of the charts with back-to-back hits, Paul McCartney still carried bits of his mother with him. He later talked about a dream, somewhere between sleep and insomnia, where his mother appeared. "There was her face, completely clear, particularly her eyes. And she said to me very gently, very reassuringly: 'Let it be.'" Paul McCartney said, according to the Daily Mail. "It was lovely. I woke up with a great feeling. It was really as if she’d visited me at this very difficult moment in my life and had given me this message: 'Be gentle, don’t fight things, just try and go with the flow and it will work out.'"
Soon, it turned into a touching tribute where the famous words, "When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me, speaking words of wisdom, let it be" became a reassuring melody that people across the world fell in love with.
Not only was it one of the greatest hits of The Beatles, but it was only the very last of the band's hits before they announced their split in 1970, as reported by Express. "So those words are really very special to me because not only did my mum come to me in a dream and reassure me with them at a very difficult time but also, in putting them into a song and recording it with the Beatles, it became a comforting, healing statement for other people too,” Paul McCartney said.
On one night in 1968, soon after Paul McCartney performed Let It Be for an impromptu private audience, Linda Eastman walked into the studio and stepped into Paul McCartney's life, changing it forever. "It was as if my mum had sent me her," he said.
"As she was leaving… I saw an obvious opportunity. I said: 'My name’s Paul. What's yours?' I think she probably recognised me," he said, according to The Telegraph. "It was so corny, but I told the kids later that, had it not been for that moment, none of them would be here."
The love they shared never missed the spotlight and Linda Eastman was able to give him the completeness of a family that Paul McCartney missed out on after his mother passed away during his childhood. They tied the knot in 1969 and she became the pillar of strength that stood beside Paul McCartney. They raised Linda's daughter from before their relationship along with three children of their own; they even named their first child together Mary.
But in 1998, the singer was forced to deal with another devastating experience of death. The breast cancer had taken her life away at the age of 56 and Paul McCartney was left with unthinkable grief.
"I think I cried for about a year on and off," he told BBC. "You expect to see them walk in, this person you love, because you are so used to them. I cried a lot. It was almost embarrassing except it seemed the only thing to do."
To lose the two most important women in his life to the same deadly disease, and not being to do anything but live with the grief would have been dreadful for Paul McCartney. Years later, in 2013, he was asked by a fan about what he would do if he had a time machine. And proving that grief never leaves you, he answered, “Go back and spend time with my mum.”