PURSUING A DREAM
I was with a patient the other day, injecting some Radiesse into her face, when she looked at me and said: “How long are you going to be doing this, Doc?“
My answer came as if of its own volition. “As long as it’s fun...and as long I feel I’m making patients feel better about themselves.”
Some of that answer came from the memory of the man I called Uncle Phil, my Father’s youngest brother, one of the most powerful influences in my life. I lost my Dad when I was barely 18 and Uncle Phil somehow always managed to be there, even after I moved to California, making it a point to always come out every year and spend time with me and then with JoAnn and me no matter where his life found him.
Uncle Phil and our youngest son, Loren, in 1994.
Uncle Phil was a well-known artist and sculptor but his preferred medium was watercolor. You might remember the alabaster sculpture of the recumbent torso that held a position of honor at my Medical and Skin Spa for over a decade…that was one of the many he created.
Alabaster torso by Philip Foxx held a place of honor at
The Medical and Skin Spa.
He earned a living from his art from his early 20’s until he passed at age 93. Not an easy trick for an artist.
He was always pursuing his dream. I clearly remember an after-dinner walk with him when he was about to turn 70. He loved after-dinner walks. “How long do you think I can do this?” he asked.
“You love what you do, right?” I asked, already knowing the answer. He nodded. “Look at Picasso,” I said, “he worked into his 90’s. Why can’t you?”
“Thanks,” he said. “I thought you’d say something like that.”
Phil and figure of Swami Savinanda prior to casting in bronze when Phil was in his 70's.
The statue is now in an ashram in Canada.
Uncle Phil continued to work, continued to change his technique, continued to evolve, and continued to sell his paintings and continued his annual visit to us to play golf and to give us the opportunity to bask in each other’s company. Uncle Phil and his wife, Betsy, JoAnn and me. When he came out we had no end of extended dinners and long conversations that ranged from philosophy to cooking to politics to the old family history.
His constant companion was his old watercolor set and he continued to paint landscapes, gardens, whatever caught his fancy. One day he set up an easel near the pasture and painted a watercolor of Spirit Ranch even though he told me he had never painted a horse in his life. It’s on the wall in our bedroom.
He once stood in the kitchen and told us: “Two things have enabled me to live this long: my art and golf.” He was about 88 then.
The last time I saw him was in 2008, about four months before he passed. He spread out a half-dozen of his paintings in the living room. “I’m changing my technique. What do you think?”
Always changing, always tweaking, always evolving, he proved the truth of Gertrude Stein’s quote: “We are always the same age inside.”
It reassures me to know we share DNA.
More about Philip Foxx. He was born with an adventurous streak. In his early 50’s he took a Volkswagen van from Paris across Italy and Turkey across the Hindu Kush Mountains and on to the Vale of Kashmir. That had to have been in the 1960’s. No tour guide. No cell phones. Just Phil and his VW van. The next year he took the van from Morocco to Capetown, South Africa. He traveled all over the Far East and eventually visited 107 countries; no place was too out of the way. He even lived in a yurt for a month in Tibet in the shadow of Everest, painting, always painting.
He played golf until two weeks before he passed. And painted with his beloved watercolors until the last day. Pursuing his dream.