I find Dr. Kevorkian’s life interesting and the specific ending to his life compelling.  Intriguing.  Mysterious.

I mean, after his staunch support of assisted suicide over the years, I half expected him to go out with a bang – a final thumbing of the nose to the government system he found so overbearing or a final message to the world regarding his well-known topic.  But peacefully in bed listening to his favorite music??  Hmmm… curious.

I’m aware that I am probably even more drawn to his story now because of my personal experience of watching someone die in bed listening to their favorite music.   (For the record, that still seems to me a pretty good way to go! – minus all the suffering that may come beforehand.)  However, I also personally know Geoffrey Fieger and consulted him while my dad was suffering.  And in my dad’s final week, my mother and I left our bedside vigil in order to attend the by-invitation Detroit premiere of the HBO film, “You Don’t Know Jack” – a very interesting dichotomy.

However, I think Dr. Jack’s personal ending purely demonstrates his overall mission – he wasn’t ever trying to avoid life by choosing death.  Rather, he was trying to help dying people avoid suffering and loss of dignity.  People who knew they were going to slowly die from an incurable disease.  People who were already experiencing increased pain and suffering every day.  THAT’s where Dr. Jack gets me every time.  I connect with that concept.  Always have.  Even before my experience with Alzheimer’s.

But, let’s face it, Dr. Kevorkian himself wasn’t suffering in the end – he was simply dying.  He was dying of natural causes and he chose to continue on that route.  I think that’s cool.  I think it’s important for him to have made that choice for himself.  Not the specific choice of choosing a natural death necessarily – but rather that he probably considered all of his options… and then he powerfully chose his exit strategy.  I think there’s dignity in being able to choose how you die.

(NOTE: I clearly understand that he went to jail for actively administering a lethal dosage to someone which made it “active voluntary euthanasia” vs. his previous acts of “physician-assisted suicide” where he provided the dosage to someone else to administer to themselves. Click these links for an explanation of the difference and the variances of the law.)

I woke up today at 6:30am (which is SO unlike me), went directly into my home office, and started writing an open to a movie about my dad.  I was feeling anxious and inspired.  I witnessed myself typing but was in disbelief about it.  The words were just flowing through my fingers with little conscious thought.  A movie was forming before my very eyes before the sun was even up!

My best friend, Jacquelyn, had planted this seed in my mind recently.  Once again, I found myself on her couch, crumpled and crying, barely able to sit up to talk to her, and she tried to help me out of my dark hole.  She suggested that I stop focusing on the impending bad parts of my dad’s life.  She suggested that I – and my entire family, for that matter – stop wallowing in a state of depressed helplessness and DO something to help ourselves!  I remember just staring at her, blinking, not comprehending at all what she was saying.  She went on to say that, with my talent and abilities, I should be able to turn this into a celebration about my dad – his life, the great man he is, all the accomplishments he has had, the wonderful family he has made…

I remember finally responding meekly with, “I don’t even know what that means.”

She told me to grab a camera, interview him and my mom, get our legacy on tape, relive our family milestones, talk about some happy times, celebrate the good life we’ve all had together!

That got through to me.  I remember sitting up, repeating what she had said to be sure I had heard her right, considering it and agreeing through tears to mull it over.

Then, I found myself sitting straight up in bed this morning at 6:30am, panicked and inspired to start doing something about it RIGHT NOW!  So, there I was, practically having an out-of-body experience watching myself type the opening narration to a movie.  Without thought, it even had a working title: “Honest & Frank”.  Initial Movie Script – Opening Scene

Then, in a split instant, I apparently decided I was done writing, that I had enough initial inspiration down on paper.  I instantly shifted into a panicked pull to get myself to the hospital right away to see my Uncle Jack!  Just a few days since I had seen him last, I was strongly feeling now like I had a very short window of opportunity to spend with him and that life was passing me by!  I raced to get dressed and just as I was nearing completion, the phone rang.  Uncle Jack had just passed away.

Complete meltdown.  OMG, now what was I going to do??  How eerie that I felt PULLED to the hospital right in the moment he was probably taking his last breaths!  Helplessness.  Panic!  Sobbing…

Then, a rational thought suddenly entered my brain and I decided in that instant that I had to immediately visit my parents and roll some video!  I ran to my car but was caught by surprise by the beautiful morning sun and the poignancy of the quiet early autumnal morning Mother Nature had planned.  I ran back inside to grab my still camera and spent a few minutes snapping pictures of my front garden glowing in the mystic autumn sun.  Then, what’s that?  A piece of white Styrofoam or something had blown into the garden…

What is that on the left?

What is that on the left?

I stepped into the garden to move a bush away to inspect the foreign object, and then I saw what it really was!  A cement statue of a Schnauzer, just like our deceased beloved family pet, Scruffy!  Well, how did THAT get there?! 

A cement statue of Scruffy!

A cement statue of Scruffy!

Sobbing, full of emotions, I dropped and broke my camera.  Then I proceeded to dial up some family and friends, asking them through sobs if they had left the gift.  When I asked my mom if it had been her, she said no.  I then told her I was coming over right now with a video camera.

When I arrived, I reiterated through tears the story about finding the Scruffy statue in my garden.  Crying, I said I didn’t know who would’ve done that!  My dad playfully said, “Well, you haven’t asked me.”  I said, “Well, I asked mom and she said it wasn’t you guys.”  To which my mom said, “No, you asked if it was ME and I said no.”  I looked at my dad in disbelief, said, “It was YOU?” and sobbed uncontrollably when he laughed and said yes!  I fell into his arms and told him how much I loved him and how sweet he is to me.

Once composed, I unpacked my camera, set up lights and mic’d my parents.  I sat them down on the couch and rolled camera.  I recorded my first interview for my movie.  Finally, I was DOING SOMETHING…