Sunday, April 25, 2010
As a child, I wanted to join the Hemlock Society after reading Jean's Way: A Love Story, a book about his wife's terminal illness and assisted death, by Derek Humphry. My parents put the kibosh on that idea because there was no such group in Mineral Wells, Texas, and I was only ten years old. Instead I was allowed to do the puppet show for Vacation Bible School. It wasn't the same, but I enjoyed acting out little performances and waiting for Jesus to return from the dead as we were charged with acting Holy Saturday and Easter. Where is He, I could imagine the disciples saying, with lots of Monday-morning quarterbacking. But I never lost my interest in end of life issues for the mortals. As a Catholic, I know I'm supposed to say that all life is precious if those irritating You Can't Be Catholic and Pro-Choice bumperstickers are to be believed. Guess what, you can. You can go to mass on Saturday night and watch You Don't Know Jack afterward and deeply admire the crackpot ways of Jack Kevorkian. Maybe it's genetic -- my mother sufffered greatly from cancer throughout her life and always said she wanted to call him if things got too terrible.
When I got to Michigan, Jack Kevorkian's trials had begun, a media circus. The man people called Dr. Death had assisted one hundred and thirty people by this time. The details of his rise and downfall are played to perfection in You Don't Know Jack. Al Pacino plays Jack K. with all his quirks on full display, so much so that you never see Al Pacino. Is Jack Kevorkian likable? Yes, in that way that crazy people with a mission are. Do you want to go to the Big Boy with him? Maybe, maybe not. Nobody longs for the day in which the suffering becomes too great to want to live. The scenes in this movie that made me cry were the ones in which real footage from people seeking help from Jack Kevorkian were shown. The worst of the lot was a man that Dr. Kevorkian turned down, a clinically depressed paraplegic who had doused himself in gasoline and set himself on fire. Jack refused to assist him in suicide, given his depression. Human suffering, like the poor, will always be with us. Those brave enough to stare into the abyss of it, well, they will always be in short supply.
Michelle's Spell of the Day
"You will always be fond of me. I represent to you all the sins you never had the courage to commit." Oscar Wilde
HBO Suggestion -- enjoyed the second episode of Treme. We'll see if it makes it to my trinity of goodness -- Hung, Californication, and Nurse Jackie.
Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy birthday to Al Pacino!