A Brush With (Dr.) Death

I have never been to California.  I have also never been to New York City.  Here in the midwest, celebrity sightings are not commonplace.  I did kiss John Stamos once on the cheek when I was about thirteen and he was making an appearance at my local mall.  I am friends with a woman whose husband was a professional baseball player, and he has a World Series trophy in their home office.  I am distantly related to Daniel Boone.  That is the extent of my experience with all things celebrity.

Last night I met my friend SWC (she has a blog but has gone private…some of you may know her) for dinner and a walk around town.  We ate really yummy Mexican food, got some Caribou coffee, and were wandering around a bit downtown when we noticed a cute little old man walking toward us.  S said, “Look at that cute, cozy old man over there.”  I agreed…he was a cute little old man in his cardigan sweater and hat.  It was only then that S recognized him, and I realized she was right.  That cute, cozy old man was Dr. Jack Kevorkian.  Otherwise known as Dr. Death. 

S stopped him and confirmed his identity.  We asked for an autograph, but apparently his lawyer won’t let him sign autographs.  But he does do pictures, so I took my friend’s picture with Dr. K.  He asked if we were registered voters.  He said it was a pleasure to meet us.  He shook our hands and smiled.  (By the way, he had the softest hands I think I’ve ever shaken!)  He was a very sweet, cute old man.

Now, I’ve never supported assisted suicide.  I don’t, at any point, think that a person can be “useless”, and I believe in being strong and staying strong in the face of whatever life throws at you.  Please don’t think I’m cold and heartless.  I have read testimonies of those who wanted Dr. K’s assistance to take control of their own fates and die on their own terms.  I understand that those individuals were in extreme pain and misery, and were only hastening the inevitable.  And I feel for them, I really really do. 

In fact, I’m able to see the other side of this issue.  I can truly see why Dr. K felt he was doing the right thing.  I can see why those poor people felt the need to end their suffering in their own way, in their own time.   And despite the controversy, despite the prison sentence, despite it all, I think that Dr. K really did have good intentions, and really did feel he was helping people.  I don’t think he’s evil.  I just disagree with him.

It was very surreal, meeting this man in person after the reports I’ve heard about him in the media.  I’ve read and heard about the hunger strikes, the controversy, the names he’s been called, his crazy and adamant lawyer.  I watched the news on the day he got out of prison, and have heard that he’s running for office.  I know the stories.

And yet, last night, he was just a cute, cozy old man in a light blue cardigan.  He was just walking around downtown enjoying the beautiful weather, like S and I were.   And I have the picture to prove it.