When you are young, you believe in things because you have no reason not to: a fat jolly man riding reindeers across the sky. Sure. A bunny that lays eggs in a basket. Why not? And when your grandmother’s doctor’s name is Jack Kevorkian, you simply don’t question it.
When you’re young and hear conversations between grownups, you hang onto every word, hoping to hear forbidden things like curses and dirty jokes you know you aren’t supposed to understand. So when my uncle would come to visit my grandma he would always bring up her doctor. It was routinely said that he would call her for everything from a headache to a hangnail. And everyone but my grandmother would laugh, she doesn’t get the joke either, I thought. “What a nice doctor,” I’d say, always on call waiting to help my grandma. “Dr. Jack Kevorkian,” my uncle would say, as if he were a family friend, “I’ll call him right now to come get you.”
When I was young, Dr. K was on the news. I thought my grandmother was so lucky to have such a famous doctor readily available. It made me hate my own doctor, a large stern Russian woman with hard heavy hands. She made me wait forever in the dark small waiting room. I couldn’t even enjoy the Highlight magazines there because all the hidden objects were always found and circled.
When I was older and watching the news, I saw Dr. K again. This time I paid close attention to the details, hoping he would mention my grandmother and how she was a star patient, perhaps his favorite. But then, I finally got the joke, not really a joke at all; a decade after the punch line had been delivered.
Ashley Sardoni-Davis teaches creative writing at her alma mater Bloomfield College. She received her M.F.A. in creative writing from Fairleigh Dickinson University in 2009. She is currently working on a collection of memoirs and a short film.