EXCLUSIVE: For Zack Ward, this Christmas is about greater than household.
The “A Christmas Story” star, who famously performed the function of neighborhood bully Scut Farkus within the iconic vacation flick, has a heavy coronary heart this season as his father was identified with Alzheimer’s in July and “in a short time declined.” Ward stated he and his siblings elected to confess their father to a completely assisted dwelling atmosphere the place he might obtain higher care than they themselves might present.
“Within the technique of going by that, you study so much about what Alzheimer’s does to individuals and the way little analysis has been carried out to assist these individuals out,” Ward, 50, informed Fox Information whereas discussing the parallels he’s acknowledged by dealing with the debilitating illness and the ideas of household and dealing with one’s fears as seen in “A Christmas Story.”
“There usually are not solely the people who find themselves affected by Alzheimer’s however the households that it impacts,” Ward continued. “There are round 5 million Individuals dwelling with Alzheimer’s, but it surely impacts one other 16 million relations and associates who’re making an attempt to care for that particular person. And I am unable to agree that it is one thing that we should always simply throw our fingers up at and simply go, ‘effectively, that is the best way life goes.’ I believe that is ridiculous.”
The Alzheimer’s advocate stated analysis needs to be handled “as an funding in your youngsters’s futures” as they could sooner or later discover themselves dwelling with the degenerative situation and may require caregiving consideration from others.
“If this was taking place to people who find themselves 40 years and underneath, the analysis can be by the roof,” stated Ward. “However there appears to be an angle towards individuals 65 and older that we simply sort of overlook about them and we put them in a nook and await them to die. That appears actually myopic and shortsighted.”
Ward stated he tackled dealing with his fears of caring for his personal father earlier than admitting him for higher care and believes his character within the “cherished household heirloom” that’s “A Christmas Story,” is a illustration of overcoming these fears.
“I believe one of many biggest moments for Scut Farkus is when he does get defeated after which his hat falls off and he is acquired the bloody nostril and he is just a bit boy who’s sniffling,” Ward defined.
“That I believe, teaches children that bullies are individuals, too. And the very fact is, when you face your fears, you possibly can overcome that ‘bully’ who’s intimidating you,” he continued. “And I do not assume that it has to just do with getting right into a fistfight, however I believe it is a metaphor for all times. If you’re fearful of one thing, face it. If you’re intimidated by one thing, handle it. If you wish to overcome the hurdles in life, you possibly can’t do it by taking place the aspect road to making an attempt to keep away from the confrontation. It’s a must to take your life head on.”
For the Parker household in “A Christmas Story,” a lot of their existence centered on dealing with their challenges as a household and Ward believes different households see themselves in an analogous place because the Parkers, particularly given the grave uncertainty introduced on by the coronavirus pandemic.
“When you take a look at the movie, it sort of takes place in an ambiguous yr, roughly between 1939 and 1941, as a result of that is when ‘Little Orphan Annie’ was on the radio. So these are sort of time-date stamp markers which can be within the film,” stated Ward.
“And when you’re that, you perceive that the nation was going by a despair. You see that they are at all times consuming pink cabbage and complaining about it. They’re at all times consuming meatloaf, which is the way you get low cost meat to stretch farther. They cannot afford to switch the heater of the home, which may be very humorous – however you then additionally bear in mind, ‘Oh, that is why individuals freeze to dying.’ They cannot afford new tires on the automotive. They should haggle for a Christmas tree. Their solely type of leisure is filling out crossword puzzles – nothing in opposition to them – however clearly, this can be a household that’s eking out an existence. This can be a household that’s making an attempt to outlive a tough time and do the very best they’ll.”
Ward stated in serving to his father by his analysis, he was shocked at how a lot his father had declined contemplating he had labored as a basic contractor and had helped Ward rework his dwelling. So when Ward’s father out of the blue acquired misplaced on the best way to his dwelling sooner or later – Ward knew one thing was amiss.
“It was late June, early July, and my father was on the best way to my home right here in Los Angeles and he acquired misplaced. He acquired off on the unsuitable off-ramp after which he referred to as me and stated he was misplaced – and he is been to my home a few hundred frickin’ occasions. So getting misplaced was very stunning,” Ward defined.
Ward added that realizing his father couldn’t place himself directionally “broke my coronary heart as a result of my dad was a Boy Scout and an Eagle Scout with the order of the arrow,” he stated. “I imply, this dude used to go up into the mountains, with a fishing deal with, a bedroll and a searching knife and spend three weeks up there being the bionic Boy Scout. And now I needed to drive over and discover him and convey him again to my home. And that was the second the place I lastly sat down with him and requested how usually he will get misplaced.”
The actor described the sight of watching his father wither in entrance of him as “the grossest, most heartbreaking expertise.”
“Probably the most tragically terrifying factor I’ve ever watched is my dad standing in the course of a room, locked and gazing a wall and simply staying there for 3 or 4 minutes at a time, gazing a wall. And I am unable to let you know the horror that brings to me.”
Ward stated seeing his childhood hero turn out to be a shell of himself is what motivates him to wish to carry consciousness to the consequences Alzheimer’s unleashes on those that undergo from it and their households.
“You’re speaking about watching somebody you’re keen on fade away in entrance of your eyes, proper in entrance of your eyes. And it is – and what’s very attention-grabbing concerning the Alzheimer’s Affiliation is that you simply’re speaking to individuals who have gone by this,” he added.
Due to the stout familial part related to “A Christmas Story” and Alzheimer’s respectively, Ward stated the truth that with Alzheimer’s nothing “goes in line with plan,” many others can relate to the concept no matter whether or not a beloved one experiences the illness.
“That is lower-middle-class, barely middle-class household and so they’re struggling to maintain a degree of sanity,” he stated. “And even on the finish the place what was going to be the epitome of their goals was this large turkey dinner – they needed to save up for it and so they do not even get that. After which they find yourself being in a Chinese language restaurant, which might be the one factor that was open again then over the vacations – and so they’re collectively.”
Ward continued: “I believe that is why the film interprets cultures and interprets generations is as a result of it is at all times concerning the household coming collectively and incomes each other’s respect within the eyes of the patriarch or the matriarch of the household – any person that you take care of, that you simply’re actually making an attempt to turn out to be somebody that they respect and that brings you collectively. So I believe that is the entire course of. The factor about ‘A Christmas Story’ and why individuals like it is that they see their very own lives within the film. The truth that nothing ever lives as much as your expectations.”
Ward stated households world wide ought to cherish the moments they’re capable of spend with their family members and may use the vacation season, particularly this yr, as a reminder that our time is valuable.
“It simply reminds us, issues by no means work out the best way you need them to however if you’re collectively, that is OK,” he stated. “So I believe that is the identical factor with Alzheimer’s is that it isn’t going to work out the best way you need it to. There isn’t a remission, however when you can sing collectively and no less than share a smile then you should have these moments. And that is the place the great thing about life truly lives.”