“And then at some point I couldn’t even make the notes, I’d aim for a C and I’d hit a G or something. You know it was like my elevator would go the wrong floor all the time.“
Linda Ronstadt. Yes THAT Linda Ronstadt … talking about the reality of Parkinson’s disease.
“It was the last thing I expected was Parkinson’s disease.”
Four decades at the top, in the limelight, making music and cutting records. That is a long time. I know of Linda Ronstadt. Even I know she was BIG. But I never knew she had Parkinson’s disease. She was just another name amongst a lot of names. I was fiddling about with Google and The Eagles when I bumped into Linda. The Eagles were her backing band. I never knew that. Desperado was never released as a single. I never knew that either. And Linda Ronstadt sang Desperado before the Eagles became “The Eagles”. Very grateful they were. Linda caused ripples they could not. Not then.
Linda Ronstadt And Aaron Neville – Don’t Know Much
I never knew she stopped. She is a name. And names peak and trough.
And in this interview she is asked about Parkinson’s – the usual questions we ask people we see as heroic – people we see as inspirational – people we see as special people – people we don’t really want to know as real people – people we prefer to be who we imagine they are. Knowing too much pricks the bubble.
But it was one short answer that prompted this whole post. One answer that made Linda real. As real as me sitting here typing right now.
The interviewer asked: “What do you do with anger? You must get angry. You must get angry with this … “
And Linda replied: “Oh I get plenty angry … especially when I look at the immigration … laws. But, um …”
And the interviewer cuts in: “But angry … angry that you’re dealing with this … that you’re dealing with “Parkinson’s” ”
And it was this small exchange. It said it all. It said so much.
I don’t know if Linda was messing about. I don’t know if she was deflecting the probing. But I do know that this lady had four decades of living in the fishbowl. Living in the public eye. Living with probing questions. Living in the fast-lane. So I guess this genteel probing was not too much of a stretch.
What “said so much” to me?
It was that same “knowing about” we get so much with our wee Alfie and his “Downs” – that all knowing (about): “But they’re all so loving, aren’t they.”
That says it all as well.
But then Linda’s answer made me stop: “Oh … with Parkinson’s .. ? What can you do? When I wake up in the morning and I think I can walk I can talk so it’s a good day, you know … ‘Cos there’ll probably come a day when I can’t do those things.”
And off to the garden and a different direction.
“You must get angry. You are dealing with Parkinson’s. What do you do with anger? Get angry. Cry tears. Make your Parkinson’s my “parkinson’s”. It destroyed your life. It took your career. It robbed you of your very self! Cry, dammit!”
“But they are all so loving, aren’t they.”
Do we expect that of each other in our church communities?
“What do you do with God? You must get joyful. You must get joyful with this … “
“Oh I get plenty joyful … especially when I look at the pretty … girls. But, um …”
“But joyful … joyful that you’re given this … that you’re given eternity.”
“Oh … with eternity … ? What can you do? When I wake up in the morning and I think I can walk with Him and I can talk with Him so it’s a good day, you know … “
Is it that we must be seen to be changed? Seen to be the stereotype we know about? Must we be those walking talking adverts for God that we have been taught is who we must be? Depression? No not me. Ever swear? No not me. Have too much to drink? No not me. Show too much cleavage? No not me. Appreciate a well turned ankle? No not me.
How much do you have to know to know that you know?
“Don’t know much”
Diane Sawyer’s Exclusive Interview With Linda Ronstadt