November 21, 2020

"[H]e talked about how it had all been for the best. Parkinson’s, he said, had made him quit drinking, which in turn had probably saved his marriage."

"Being diagnosed at the heartbreakingly young age of 29 had also knocked the ego out of his career ambitions, so he could do smaller things he was proud of... When Fox was diagnosed, he had been married for three years and his son, Sam, was a toddler. At first, he couldn’t believe it.... There were, he says, some dark days spent lying on the sofa, but after a while he got bored. 'Then I came to a place of gratitude. Finding something to be grateful for is what it’s about,' he says. Optimism is about the promises of the future, gratitude looks at the present. Fox has retrained his focus from running towards what will be, to seeing what is. He and [his wife Tracy] Pollan spent lockdown on Long Island with all their children: Sam, 31, Schuyler and Aquinnah, 25, and Esme, 19. 'We were always linger-after-dinner people anyway, and now we were lingering and talking about what people were going through. Doing jigsaws, Tracy cooking up a storm, everyone there, these wonderful children and this great wife,' he says. When Fox says 'I can’t believe I have this life,' he is not referring to the restrictions of Parkinson’s – he is talking about his happy home.... 'As limited as I am in some regards, if you’d told me when I was diagnosed that I’d have this life now and do the things that I do, I’d have said, ‘I’ll take it.’ I can move around – it takes some planning, but I can move. I can think, I can communicate and I can express affection. What else do you want?'" 

40 comments:

stevew said...

What a wonderful lesson he has learned and is willing to share. Travis Roy told a similar story and set a similar example. Life is what you make of it and allow it to be. Your attitude and outlook are yours to choose.

Big Mike said...

I have never forgiven him for falling for the ridiculous claim that fetal stem cells offered a legitimate chance at curing Parkinson's.

alanc709 said...

Why did he retire? Hollywood is crying out for a Parkinson's-inflicted person to fill all those Parkinson's-sufferers roles in movies.

Tommy Duncan said...

I have Parkinson's. I'm grateful mine developed later in life. 29 was way too young for Fox to be inflicted.

We all bear a cross of some sort. Some crosses are crappier than others. So far, Parkinson's has left me largely functional on most days. The biggest daily challenge is to overcome the inertia that accompanies feeling like crap. Every day I feel like the previous day I played a football game and then got drunk. Once I get going (strenuous exercise) things smooth out.

JML said...

Bless you, Tommy. Thanks for sharing!

Yancey Ward said...

The way it was reading, it sounded like an obituary.

Tom T. said...

At least he's well positioned to get roles playing people with Parkinson's.

Owen said...

Props to this man. And prayers to him and everyone in similar difficulties.

It wouldn't hurt any of us to give thanks for whatever remains to us.

Owen said...

Tommy Duncan @ 11:22: "...Every day I feel like the previous day I played a football game and then got drunk."

Wow. That really brings it home for the rest of us. Thank you for taking the time to give us a clue. Prayers up to you and others who are feeling that football practice/hangover...

Kate said...

He's the star, he gets the article. I remember his wife from when she was a young actress. By now she must be one hell of a broad: 30 yrs of marriage, 4 children, and Michael's illness. I'm not a fan of his outspoken politics, but I credit him for choosing well.

Jeff Brokaw said...

One saying about gratitude that I like is “You can take everything for granted or take everything with gratitude”.

Pretty good advice that I wish I had heard decades ago.

William said...

I'm in the very early stages of Parkinson's. Jaywalking is no longer an option and stepping off the curb is a premeditated act. Fortunately I was always somewhat clumsy so I've had a lifetime to prepare for diminished neural responses. Apparently if you get it late in life, the progress is slow. I'll probably die of something else before it gets really bad, but who knows....It does add a certain amount of drama and foreshadowing to an otherwise banal existence.....My sympathies are with him. He has perhaps had a blessed life, but it's also possible he's turning in a performance demonstrating the triumphant human spirit. Whatever works. On the plus side, he got to enjoy a few years as a Hollywood movie star. Parts of his time on earth were undeniably blessed so there's that.

FullMoon said...

Great attitude. I admire that.

Tommy Duncan said...

Blogger William said...

"I'm in the very early stages of Parkinson's. Jaywalking is no longer an option and stepping off the curb is a premeditated act."


William, I'm just curious: Are you taking carbidopa/levodopa? If so, how much symptom relief has it provided?

Unknown said...

It’s all about the journey. Enjoy that, the rest will take care of itself.

Temujin said...

I met him once, a long time ago. I was running a restaurant in the Lebanon, NH area, right on the border with Vermont. I believe Michael and his wife had a home in Vermont at that time. Maybe still do. He, Tracy, and young Sam (he was a little guy back then) came in one day for lunch. They were the nicest people. He was a good guy. Took time with everyone who wanted to say something to him. Chatting, joking, smiling. Very down to earth and very open and honest type of person.

It seemed he had a natural ability to be positive. Some have that. I've always been a fan of him as a person and wish him the very best always.

William said...

@Tommy Duncan: The neurologist said I'm okay for now and to check back in six months....Your description of the post football game hangover was vivid and rings true. I really stumble around in the morning, but it gets better. My sense of balance is impaired, but mostly I function. There's no pain involved. There are worse conditions to have. Win or lose, I didn't get cheated in the longevity department. That's the one big advantage of old age. You know with absolute certainty that you will not die a tragic early death and leave your bright promise unfulfilled.....Good luck to you in your continuing adventures.

Karen of Texas said...

Trump was the inspiration for Biff? Seriously??

Joe Smith said...

He seems like a nice enough guy...

But $70M in the bank would make life much easier for anyone in bad health...

Quayle said...

Regarding gratitude, I thought this video from my faith tradition, was great. Came out yesterday.

Karen of Texas said...

I admire Fox's attitude and fortitude. He's been fighting a relentless foe. It is difficult to have to continually set aside things that bring you joy - and then you realize it's the people in your life and not the things that matter. Those connections can sustain you even through the darkest trials. Fox has those connections.

anti-de Sitter space said...

“What else do you want?”

Is it implicit that his list of stuff that he possesses has one thing underlying the everything? I’m assuming he’s worth somewhere around a hundred million, but I don’t know. And, I’m too lazy to search for it. At least many tens of millions. Seems like that’s an important piece of the puzzle that makes a lot of things better. IMHO.

anti-de Sitter space said...

Joe does seem to know the number.

Seventy should be plenty to make a lot of things not-problems.

iowan2 said...

I have never forgiven him for falling for the ridiculous claim that fetal stem cells offered a legitimate chance at curing Parkinson's.

Unless you have had a death sentenced laid on your doorstep, cut the guy some slack.

A man I call friend, was diagnosed with non operable cancer. As a Veterinarian for over 30 years, he knew science. He had a lab in his office where he would culture his own dysentery medication for swine herds.
He still chased down every possibility he came across, outside of approved medicine. Traveling to Europe, South America, and Mexico.

I also remember vividly a media report 40? years ago about a kook in Australia, trying to claim stomach ulcers were caused by a bacteria, and a simple regimen of antibiotics would fix them. The report interviewed several internists all explaining how stupid the scam was. The rest, as they say, is history.

steve uhr said...

I remember when Rush L made fun of his disability. Something he and his buddy Trump have in common.

n.n said...

On one hand, on the other hand, under the doctrine of political congruence, he is eligible to play a character with Parkinsons. Although, and this is where The Guardian report fails miserably, he is male and white, and is disqualified under diversity dogma. Too many white males in the Olympics.... Hollywood. h/t The Guardian

Jim at said...

I have never forgiven him for falling for the ridiculous claim that fetal stem cells offered a legitimate chance at curing Parkinson's.

Yep. And refusing to take his medication so he could make more of a scene of himself during a congressional hearing.

Jim at said...

I remember when Rush L made fun of his disability.

No. He called him onto the carpet for exploiting his disability as a prop. History doesn't begin anew every 15 minutes for some of us.

tim in vermont said...

I can always forgive Fox, if only for portraying conservatism so positively in Family Ties, even though the writers thought that he was projecting horror and they made him apologize for his conservatism in almost every show. All it really did was make him look magnanimous and the liberals to look small and insecure.

They made sure in the reboot Modern Family that the Alex character was far less physically attractive to prevent that, but the Mallory character, who was named Alex, definitely lived up to the hotness standard.

tim in vermont said...

“I remember being told that Rush L made fun of his disability.”

FIFY

Narr said...

I had forgotten MJF existed, and don't care about his politics or his money-- the guy suffers and has found a way to face it. If I ever get something like that--and I've seen Parkinson's from start to finish in others--I hope I can be as stoic.

Those here who have it, I wish you well.

Narr
Try whatever gives you hope

eddie willers said...

Yes. Rush accused Fox of skipping his medicine before the Congressional hearing so his symptoms would be more pronounced and thus, more visible to the people.

Rush caught a lot of shit for this, but Fox later commented that that was exactly what he did. The correction was, of course, on page 18 of the Women's Section.

I think this was early after his diagnosis so he was still in the angry/denial stage.

He later took that attitude into his wonderful performance in the TV show, "The Good Wife". He played a crafty lawyer who would us his Parkinson's to the hilt if it helped him win a case.

Louise B said...

I remember the whole fetal stem cells will cure disease outcry. I have Type 1 (not Type II) diabetes, and the fetal stem cells were promoted as a cure. Can you understand the lure of that promise? To be healthy and normal without shots? The problem was the stem cells came from aborted babies, and I am Catholic and pro-life. I prayed very hard over this dilemma. The answer that came to me was that God didn't use evil ways to create cures, so this was not something I should trust. I made the decision that no matter what "science" proclaimed, I would not take a treatment taken from aborted babies. In the end, ADULT stem cells have been shown to have the greatest promise and no one promotes fetal stem cells any longer. My disease showed me the way to trust God. (I have had it for 34+ years and am living a wonderful life.)

Earnest Prole said...

Trump was the inspiration for Biff? Seriously??

Run, don’t walk, to watch Back to the Future 2. Biff is a yellow-bouffant casino mogul in a dystopian future.

BoatSchool said...

I applaud his work wrt Parkinson’s.

I despise his manipulation of his Parkinson’s meds so he could portray his worst case Parkinson’s moments for partisan political purposes.

RoseAnne said...

Blogger Quayle said...
Regarding gratitude, I thought this video from my faith tradition, was great. Came out yesterday.


Quayle, saw that yesterday as well. At the time of the talk, 350,000 were watching worldwide. It was nice to see the diversity and size of the audience as well as the message.

I wanted to take the opportunity to thank you for a post you made the other day. It was about the Pathways program. I had heard about the first level, but not the rest of the program so I did some research.

I don't qualify as a participant but do as an instructor and have begun the application process. Thank you for sharing the information.

n said...

“The growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.” – George Eliot, Middlemarch

Unknown said...

We need a lot more of this. Lots of people (young esp) with NO illness and no misfortune are determined to find woe in their life.

Paul said...

Outstanding Mr. Fox. You have found what it really takes to have happiness.

It isn't $$$, booze, fame, good looks, etc... it's a good family and good friends. And as we all know good people are hard to find.

I'm glad you found it!

And Mr. Fox... I lost my hearing in high school over 60 years ago. But I am one lucky guy with a great family. The lack of hearing is just a hindrance.. not a handicap.

JAORE said...

"I have never forgiven him for falling for the ridiculous claim that fetal stem cells offered a legitimate chance at curing Parkinson's.

Yep. And refusing to take his medication so he could make more of a scene of himself during a congressional hearing."

That bothered the crap out of me too. But I'm sure Fox was pumped full of the lie that fetal cells would cure all and those nasty evangelists were keeping a medical miracle at bay. I'm sure he was told his fame could break that dam and bring a flood of good health to millions.

he was not the first to buy into that type of thing. And, sadly, is far from the last.