OBITUARY: LINDA MCCARTNEY

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, June 1998:

Linda McCartney, 56, died of
breast cancer on April 17 in Tucson,
Arizona. The daughter of entertainment
lawyer Lee Eastman, Linda had already
become a noted rock-and-roll photographer,
after a failed first marriage, when she met
composer Paul McCartney of the Beatles at a
London nightclub in 1967. They were married
in March 1969. Linda and Yoko Ono,
wife of the late John Lennon, were often
blamed by fans and writers for the Beatles’
subsequent break-up. Drafted into Paul’s
new band, Wings, as a keyboardist and
backup singer, Linda endured further criticism
for musical mediocrity. Learning to
withstand public abuse served her well after
they became ethical vegetarians in 1979, 12
years after Paul’s lifelong friend and fellow
Beatle George Harrison.


“The moment of revelation came
during a Sunday roast meal, when one of
their four children commented on the contented
way in which some baby lambs were
grazing in the fields outside,” Jonathan
Ashby of the New York Daily News reported.
Said Paul, “We all suddenly felt quite dreadful
when we realized that we were probably
tucking into one of their relatives’ legs.”
They were joined in vegetarianism
a few years later by Sean Lennon, son of
John Lennon, who gave up meat at age 12.
By 1984 both Paul and Linda were
prominently involved in animal rights
activism. After Linda McCartney’s Home
Cooking, 1989, sold 400,000 copies, Linda
introduced a line of frozen dinners, Linda’s
Meatless Meals, in 1991, and issued a second
cookbook, Linda’s Kitchen, in 1996.
“If you go veggie,” Linda
explained in the preface, “it means no animal
dies for your plate. I’ve met a lot of people
who say, ‘I’m almost veggie, but I still eat
fish.’ To me that’s like being ‘almost pregnant’––either
you are or you aren’t. I know
that for some people cutting out fish is the
most difficult obstacle on the road to vegetarianism.
But fish have feelings too, and anyone
who has ever seen a fish hooked out of
the water, jerking and gasping for breath,
should realize that.”
Said Paul in his first public statement
after her death, “The courage she
showed to fight for her causes of vegetarianism
and animal welfare was unbelievable.
How many women can you think of who
would singlehandedly take on opponents like
the Meat & Livestock Commission, risk
being laughed at, and yet succeed? All animals
to her were like Disney characters, worthy
of love and respect. The tribute she
would have liked best would be for people to
go vegetarian,” as the public schools of
Rome, Italy did in her honor on April 30, on
request from school supervisor Fiorella
Farinelli, 54, against outspoken opposition
from both the meat industry and the locally
powerful Communist Refounding Party.
Continued Paul, “Linda got into the
food business for one reason only, to save
animals from cruel treatment. When told a
rival firm had copied one of her products, all
she could say was, ‘Great. Now I can retire.’
In the end, she went quickly with very little
discomfort, surrounded by her loved ones.
The kids and I were there when she crossed
over. They each were able to tell her how
much they loved her. Finally I said to her,
‘You’re up on your Appaloosa stallion. It’s a
fine spring day. We’re riding through the
woods. The bluebells are out, and the sky is
clear blue.’ I had barely gotten to the end of
the sentence when she closed her eyes and
gently slipped away.”

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