My specialty is death… ~Dr. Jack Kevorkian
I’m often asked if I was related to Dr. Jack Kevorkian, the physician-assisted suicide doctor. I wasn’t, at least not a blood relation. He permitted me to refer to him as Uncle Jack, something I’d been doing since his name became known to the masses.
In 2011, I had the tremendous honor of meeting him! It wasn’t everyday that I had the opportunity to meet a real hero of mine! When I learned that he was going to be speaking at UCLA, I contacted his friend Ruth Holmes and asked if there was any chance that I could meet him. I’d been in contact with Ruth for years, sending my support and copies of letters I sent to politicians on his behalf. Ruth connected me to Uncle Jack’s closest friends, Harry Wylie and Neal Nicol, the authors of the book You Don’t Know Jack: Between the Dying and the Dead. I am so grateful for their kindness.
Ruth got me VIP tickets to the UCLA event where Uncle Jack was invited to speak by the Armenian Students’ Association at UCLA with the help of the Armenian American Medical Society of California.
Before Uncle Jack went on stage, I was invited to go to the “dressing” room and meet him. He reached out his hands to me as I entered the room, and I felt as though I was meeting a kindred spirit. He held my hands the entire time we spoke. I shared with him about some struggles I had finding work in hospice because of the name, the challenges my mother faced in her dying process, and the absolute respect and loyalty I had for him and his work.
It’s unfortunate that most people only knew of Uncle Jack from how the media portrayed him. In reality, he was a BRILLIANT, compassionate, kind and gentle man.
Uncle Jack told me to take over where I left off.
That is exactly what I am doing by educating people about end-of-life care.