After the Dance: My Life With Marvin Gaye - Jan Gaye (2015)
To say that life has not been a serious and painful challenge in many ways since Marvin’s death would be a tremendous understatement. I believe that he left me with enough life lessons and guidelines, though, to survive it all. For years after his death it was just us three . . . me and the kids . . . and now with my grandson we are four. I am amazed that I am now fifteen years older than Marvin will ever be. It’s taken me thirty years to feel safe enough to tell my story. Doing so has brought joy, pain, fear, satisfaction, and a sense of freedom.
Marvin was my friend, my lover, my teacher, my mother, my father, my husband; the father to our two beautiful children and grandfather to my incredible grandson; my partner in crime, my advocate, my opponent, my conscience, and my subconscious. He made me laugh, cry, and brought me some of the most wonderful moments of my life. His spirit is so strong that I feel him every day. He walked me through many a long, dark hour after his death. I thank God for the time that he gave us together, good and bad, for without both I would have had none. We were hippies when we met, and I will remain that way.
Marvin was a prophet, who sang of issues decades ago that are sadly still relevant today. Frightening things that should inspire us to wake up, protect our planet, and “save our children.” If he had lived, I believe he would be doing just that. “What’s Going On” will forever represent the profound need for love, peace, awareness, understanding, and healing that we all need to survive the negative and deadly repercussions of our actions, which threaten to destroy us all. “Time to Get It Together” . . . now. I believe there is a part of him that is at peace. The physical. I believe his spirit is restless, and I believe many of us that knew him, and many who didn’t, might agree and know the reasons why. “Someday we’ll all be free. . . .”
To my family: My daughter, my sweet Nona Marvisa, who was born with her eyes open and who is a survivor. I am so proud to call her my girl. My son, gentle and generous, never hurtful and always loving, my baby boy, Frankie Christian aka Bubbie, who was born with a broken arm and a beautiful soul and named for his Uncle Frankie and his Uncle Mark. To my grandson, my heart. God blessed me with a thoughtful, funny, and wise one, Nolan Pentz Gaye. I only wish that he and his grandfather could have known each other in this life. My big brother, Mark, my protector; my nieces, Jennifer Elizabeth and Christina Suzanne, and their mom, sweet Mary; my loving younger brother Michael, my sister Felicia, and my nieces Tenesha, Tierra, and Liz; Earl 2, Gwen, Shannon, Brianna, and Robbie; Lynda, Janay, Janessa, Christian, and Pia; Jada and Alysia, Tamiko, and Tevin; William and Lori and the girls; Stephanie, Victoria, Sasha Marie, and clan; Angela and Cle, Celina; my sister Judy, who cared for me when I was unable, and her daughters, Christy and Denise, and their children; to my Asa and her children; to April, Frankie M., and Fiona; Barbara Brooks, Beatrice Willis, Wilson Gaillard, Andre, Mary P., Karen S’mylez, Bonnie Gay, and Mark Gay; and to Antwaun Gay, Marvin’s baby brother and a true blessing to our family, and his amazing wife, Carolyn, the rock. I love you all.
Thank you to my friends, still here, old and new: Craig McKay, Dazz, Michelle LeClair, Karen Mandel, Kim Wilson, Deboragh, Rain, Richard Jr., and Elizabeth Stordeur-Pryor; Lem, Martha, Trece and Lem Barney, Laura Brown and her beautiful family, Leigh Blake and India, Earle Sebastian, Alia Rose, Penny and Melia, John Altman, Ramon, Big Dad, Jon Nettlesbey, Faith N., Larry Fleming, the best babysitter; Ladybug, Nicholas Payton, Robin Harrison Stoker, Sheldon Scott, Preston Wilcox, Bill, Stacy, Cam and Nicole Snelson; Bill, Jonna, and Denim; Jonathan and Nathalie Stroum, the Saunders family, J. Kevin Swain, Angie Osborn, Woody J., Lynn Stuart, Stephen Ferrone, Azizi Johari, Mary Anderson, Patty Allison Fairweather, the Evans family, Mike Ladd, Miss Kitty, Lynne Bell and Maya; Gino and Gino, Harry W., Brian S., Ken C., Richard R., Diana and Elizabeth Z., Terri Walters and family, Jason Logan, Candice Ghant, Amy Rogers and Maddie, Princess Bomba and family, Rachel Goldstein, James W., Leon and Carol Ware, Melvin Ragin, Jabali Hicks, Eric Farrell, Satie Gossett and his beautiful family (thanks for the visit), Gordon Banks, Doni Hagan, Duane and Rashgene Gazi-White and Lola; Freda Mays, the ever fabulous Odell ‘Gorgeous’ George, Art and Dean Stewart, Richard L., Dominique Batt, Eric Johnson, Yvonne A., Joshua Evans, Barsheem Fowler and Tauros Essex, Gamel Moore and Miss Pat, the Estelle family, Megan, AlBabe, CC; and to Michael A. I love you all.
Many thanks to the incredibly talented musicians, arrangers, and producers who worked with Marvin throughout his career. The very best always.
Many, many thanks to John McClain for endlessly encouraging me to tell what he has always described as a “cautionary tale.” He believed when I could not. To Regina Jones for her unending compassion and understanding and for her time and energy. She is an angel. When I grow up I want to be just like her. I am eternally grateful to David Vigliano, our agent, who never gave up on me. He has a staff that always made me as welcome as he did. He is so special and a beautiful and gentle human being. I thank my God and the universe for allowing David Ritz and I to reconcile our differences and to get down to the business of telling my story. I never thought that would happen. Thank you, Roberta, for sharing his talent.
Thank you to those at HarperCollins/Amistad: To Ms. Tracy Sherrod and her soothing ways and calming voice and her team who tolerated my procrastination and fears.
To those who have cared for us emotionally and physically: Dr. Alan Gordon, Dr. Caron Zlotnick, Dr. David Carpentier, Dr. David Dove, and a very special thank you to Dr. Joshua Kane, who guided me to the right surgeon and hospital—Massachusetts General, whose staff and doctors kept me alive through my experience with breast cancer. I would not be writing this without him and them.
Rest in peace and love: To my mother, Barbara Frances Hunter, and my father, Bulee “Slim” Gaillard. To my dad, Earl Hunter, who raised me as his own. To Alberta Cooper Gay, a warm and loving mother and grandmother to many, and her sisters, Aunt Tolie May, Aunt Zeola, and Aunt Pearl. To Uncle Earl. To Marvin’s brother and my son’s namesake, Frankie Timothy, we miss you. To Uncle Micheal Cooper, silent and dear. To my older brother Michael and my sister Casonna; to my darlings, Barbara Stroum, who could always make me laugh, and Dianne Ogden-Halder, my sweet sister. To Edward Benjamin Townsend and David, his son; to Odell Brown. My love, Teena, words cannot express how you are missed. To RJ and TP, your families continue to honor you and your legacies. To MJ and Richard Pryor, simply the best. To Whitney, who helped my baby, and Andrew Brown and Marjorie “Mama” Fontenette, forever loved. Frances Miller and Mr. Errol Augustus, so dear. I miss you all deeply. We will meet again. . . . I love you all.
I thank my God for allowing me to have lived this incredible life. I give thanks every day. It has been the stuff of dreams, yet sometimes nightmares. I choose to focus on the dreams that came true thanks to Marvin. The beauty, the love, our children, and the music and the legacy that we hold dear and close to our hearts and souls. . . . I am thankful for all because therein lie the lessons I’ve learned. We never stop learning. We move forward. We do our best. We trip, we stumble, but we go on. We survive. PEACE.