It was about 1992 and I’d recently come back from a retreat offered by Marble Collegiate Church about relationships. I realized three qualities I wanted in a partner were brilliance, creativity and financial independence. And after a few times hanging out with Chris, (thanks to a Kirk Douglas film he was in with a mutual friend), I realized Chris had those three qualities. And more. He was a good listener. I was attracted to these qualities.
He had been an English major and so had I. He was the only person ever to express an interest on the topic of my Master’s thesis – deconstructionism and psychoanalysis. English majors just generally tend to get (and love) one another. When I met Chris, he was reading Updike’s Memories of the Ford Administration. Here was a guy who loved Updike and was a good listener? Nice.
So life ensued. We married in ’95. The kids came along in ’97 and ’99. And after a bout with prostate cancer about 10 years ago, Chris was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease about 9 years ago.
While I know many of you love Chris as an actor and an artistic colleague, and I, too, love the brilliance and the creativity, but there is another quality Chris has brought to my life which may not sound so sexy: his steadiness.
He is not literally steady, because Parkinson’s does cause his hand and arm to shake, but figuratively, he is a rock. When the kids were little, one preschool director, Holly, commented that she’d never seen a dad so involved with the kids as Chris was.
He’s a real family man. And even as the disease progress, Chris is aces as a parent. He still cooks and shops and walks the kids home from late-night parties.
And he listens well. He’s steady. And I like that.
He no longer reads Updike the way he used to, but then again, who does?
Chris is making a documentary with a buddy who also has Parkinson’s about putting on Becket’s Endgame. To see a clip of the documentary, link to: The Endgame Project.