On a hot, blustery day in Fort Myers, Fl., about 300 anguished and weeping friends, family and fans of tragic, troubled country singing star MINDY MCCREADY gathered to bid farewell to the “Ten Thousand Angels” chanteuse, who shot herself in the head on Feb. 17 at the Heber Springs, Ark., home she shared with her boyfriend, music producer David Wilson, who had preceded her in suicide just days earlier.
At the Crossroads Baptist Church, a long table held photos of Mindy, while her voice eerily floated through the chapel speakers, as Michael Inge, Mindy’s stepfather, told the crowd they were there “to celebrate her graduation into the heavenlies.” On twin video screens, photos of Mindy as a child, Mindy as a young singer, Mindy as a mother and a Nashville star, constantly cycled.
This was Mindy’s day, all the way.
None spoke of Mindy’s sadly checkered past – the arrests, the sex tape, the drug and alcohol abuse, the shattered relationships with men and family, that caused her briefly glittering career to spiral downwards from a first platinum-selling album to her last three disappointing efforts and her appearance on “Celebrity Rehab.” No one spoke of her loss of custody of her two children, Zander,6, and 10-month-old Zayne, to foster care authorities who planned to turn them over to her mother, Gayle Inge, to raise, after Mindy was involuntarily committed in an unwashed, confused and drugged haze.
Playing guitar, Michael Inge sang, “You Are Our Special Angel,” and said, “Now she is in the presence of those 10,000 angels, having a good time with those who went before her.”
There was other music from Tom Sterbens, who sang “I Will Always Love You” with a female backup trio, and recorded gospel music from Mindy. Gayle said, “She is and always will be our precious daughter and my favorite singer – and I’m her biggest fan.”
Mindy’s mom, Gayle Inge, noted that Mindy “adored her two children with all her heart. She wanted them to know that nothing, not even death, could separate her from them.
“No matter what,” Gayle said, “she will always be our little girl who sang in our car seat with a hairbrush for a microphone.
“I can’t tell you how our daughter groaned. I can’t tell you all the conversations where she was so empty and so hurt. She was in her darkest moment and was hurt by so many accusations. Our Mindy was so tired – she felt helpless and I know she wanted to be healed. She said so. I can’t tell you how we prayed that there would be a healing.
“Now, she’s healed. She’s no longer sick.
“Her last words to me were, ‘I love you, I miss you, mean it.”