In the hours after Eddie Van Halen’s death from cancer on Tuesday, social media was filled with tributes from fans, musicians and many celebrities, showing the range of lives his music and spirit touched. But along with the announcement from his son, Wolfgang, perhaps the most touching was from Valerie Bertinelli, the actress and Van Halen’s ex-wife and mother of Wolfgang.
She posted a moving photograph of the three of them taken weeks after Wolfgang’s birth.
“40 years ago my life changed forever when I met you,” she wrote. “You gave me the one true light in my life, our son, Wolfgang. Through all your challenging treatments for lung cancer, you kept your gorgeous spirit and that impish grin. I’m so grateful Wolfie and I were able to hold you in your last moments. I will see you in our next life my love.”
The two were an “it” couple in the early ‘80s, with Van Halen riding high as the superstar guitarist of the group that bore his name and Bertinelli a television star from the show “One Day at a Time,” in which she starred with Mackenzie Phillips. (They also looked more than a little alike.) The pair married on April 11, 1981; Wolfgang was born almost exactly ten years later.
The couple separated in 2001 and divorced six years later, and despite Van Halen’s stuggles with substance abuse, returned to good terms: Eddie and Wolfgang both attended Bertinelli’s 2011 wedding to financial planner Tom Vitale.