Tuesday, May 04, 2010

question number thirteen (and i like it too)...

As the late, great Bob Spotswood would say, "run, don't walk" to see "You Don't Know Jack." Although it's on HBO, so run home and see it. Provided you have HBO. Which I don't.
But my parents do! And they are once again out of town, providing me with what I've come to appreciate is almost a bed & breakfast experience. As my meeting ticked by last night, I got antsy. Amanda leaned over whispered, "Seriously. When is this over? I have plans."
"I know." I whispered back. "Me too. Al Pacino is playing Jack Kevorkian and Brenda Vaccaro is his sister."
I wondered if Amanda's plans were nearly as nerdy awesome as mine, and hightailed it out of there as soon as I was allowed to. I raced up the mountain, carried my father's fucking quarterly supply of nuts from "The Pecan Store" up the front stairs, dropped everything TWICE on my ascent and made myself a french press coffee before settling in to the TV Room.
Alone in the wilderness with a 2 hour and 15 minute star-studded TV movie about assisted suicide? Don't mind if I do.
Everything about this movie is fabulous. And by everything, I mean Brenda Vaccaro.
Brock often uses Brenda Vaccaro as a punchline. For example, if Brock were to refer to a mutual acquaintance, a local celebrity or really, any woman over 25, he's likely ot say, "She's no Brenda Vaccaro." We have elevated this 70 year old actress to icon status and I can think of no one more deserving. Honestly. THIS is Brenda and her fourth husband, Guy Hector.
To dare but to fucking dream, right?
Brenda's best line in "You Don't Know Jack" is when her brother, Dr. Death screams across a Buick, "Is that a new wig?"
"What? Yes. Why? It's rum raisin? You don't like it?"
Applause!
Al Pacino is amazing. just amazing. The whole thing is mesmerizing, weird and funny. Barry Levinson directed it, and there's a very obvious smattering of "The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom" style irreverence, which I found heavenly.
So please trust me when I tell you, you really, really will want to see "You Don't Know Jack" and I will totally see it again again, so just keep me posted on times, dates, etc.
And now: Euthanasia.
I have jokingly said many times before, I don't care what you need to do, who you need to bribe, what every doctor tells you, never unplug me. I want to be kept alive at any cost because I will probably wake right up the second I suspect I'm not getting enough attention.
However, in last night's TV movie, Dr. Death describes his mother's illness, and asks us to imagine the worst toothache ever. Then imagine that horrible toothache pain in every single bone in your body, all the time. Between last night and this morning, it's been all I could think about. I just keep trying to feel it, for one little second. Because it must take a lot to get oneself to THIS.
One of Dr. Kevorkian's first patients wanted to die because she had Alzheimer's, and I thought of my grandmother who spent the last years of her life spiraling into dementia, brandishing knives, screaming for help, constantly confused and frightened. And she had been such a snarky force of nature, my grandmother. Appearance was everything to her, the right clothes, the right dinner party menu, the right granddaughter. I wonder what Grandma would have chosen, had she known. Even as a devout, guilt-ridden Catholic, I can't imagine my grandmother would have even tollerated the notion that one day she'd be screaming about kidnappers and rapists, oblivious to reality.
But what do you do, when a doctor tells you this is what's happening? You're losing your mind, it's only going to get worse, there's nothing to do.
Do you cross your fingers and hope for a miracle?
Or do you let some "doctor" in a VW van drive you out to the woods, lay you down, give you a second to say your goodbyes and hand you a STRING (no joke) so you can pull it and painlessly end your life?
I'm curious as to your thoughts...

7 comments:

Be_Devine said...

Give me a big bowl of dark chocolate melted in butter and then pull the plug.

HappyRachael said...

Beth, you made me cry about my sick grandfather and laugh all in one sitting. Thank you! I almost watched this last night, and tonight is Glee, so Wednesday night TV is scheduled! Thanks!

Frank Slade said...

It is, perhaps, best that you saw this Brenda Vaccaro masterpiece after Sunday's incident. Should anyone be re-thinking their emergency contact?

Also, a VW van in the woods might be preferable to some doofus's couch.

Debbie Morgan Griffin said...

I think Melissa'a choice of emergency contact is perfect! Not only will Beth get her to the hospital, but she will then publish an hysterical, word by word, replay of the whole adventure!!! Momma G

Cali said...

I would prefer to be able to choose when to go and where to go. I think it is ridiculous to force people to suffer for no good reason. I also think it is reprehensible to make people choosing to end their suffering do so in secret, van in the woods or otherwise, unless a van in the woods is where the patient *wants* to go.

You see, I suffer from a painful nerve condition for which there is no cure. I have slowly advanced from pain medication to pain medication over many years and am now on morphine. Eventually, that won't work anymore, either. Then what? Why should I have to suffer with mind robbing pain just because so many people can't understand it, can't imagine what it must be like, and are totally unsympathetic? The Judeo-Christian ethic is all fine and good, I suppose, but it has no business making medical decisions for people.

If you go to PBS.org and look for it you will find an episode of Frontline about a man who suffered from MS and how his end of life process went in, I believe, Switzerland. That was OK, but I'd prefer it to be even less "suspect" than it was there. I don't think people should be made to feel like criminals just because they are tired of suffering. Everything should be above board and straightforward. The patient should choose where to go whether at home or at a hospital. Perhaps a luxurious spa-like clinic would be nice?

sfmike said...

Give me the string, some morphine, and Brenda Vaccaro and I'll definitely be ready for heaven.

Phil said...

I'll take the string.