Instead of being buried or cremated my mother donated her body to science, which in this case meant Brown University Alpert School of Medicine. Last night we went to a ceremony there in which the first year students — who have been working on the bodies all year — thank the family and friends of the donors for this gift.
It was a very moving ceremony and not just for the families and friends. At one point they read off the donors’ names one by one and with each one a student placed a flower in a vase that went from empty to overflowing. (See picture)
Afterwards there was a reception where med students came and talked to the families. This was really the most moving and unexpected part of the evening. It became clear that these aren’t just cadavers for the students. They are very much people who the students learn about as they examine the bodies. One woman told us her donor was a construction worker and she could see how the strength he got doing that was still evident even in his 90 year old body.
While the students don’t know much about the person they work on beyond a first name and maybe a few other details they knew a lot about them. They used the words “humbled” and “in awe” frequently when describing the bodies. One student even said he sometimes would just hold the person’s hand which made me hope he worked on my mother.
Mom would be so happy to see how much people were still learning from her. We told the students about mom and especially her famous last words, “Holy Shit!” and gave them the pins with those words which we had made up for her memorial service. They loved them and I watched them showing the pins to other students who were also clearly delighted. Talking to the students it became clear Brown’s med school clearly has an emphasis on public service which I found touching and knew mom would love (perhaps it’s why she donated her body there). This ceremony was a great public service to me and my family.
Instead of an e-card, is this called a VD-card? And yes, if you get one it is definitely too late to install virus protections.
Using what may be the ultimate drop down menu, the sender can choose from a list of sexually transmitted diseases and whether to disclose his or her name. Inspot.org will automatically send a list of local health resources to the recipient. If you don’t remember the person’s name, what are the chances you got their email address?
And just in case that STD turns out to be terminal, another service lets you notify all your online-only acquaintances of your demise. A web site with the great name of SlightlyMorbid “lets customers create and maintain a secure list of important online friends who need to be notified in case of a crisis, or even death.”
The one-time fee for the service ranges from $10 to $50. Premium members get to write “custom ‘last words’ messages … private email messages to each friend that you compose and store on the system in advance.” And, speaking of slightly morbid, the site offers a 20% discount for members of the military.
If you can’t think of what to give that special someone, gift memberships are offered.
“To boldly be buried as no one has been buried before…”
Eternal Image is a company that seems devoted to helping people get rid of excess cash when they die. When I last checked in, the maker of “brand-name funerary objects” had lines of urns and caskets with Major League Baseball logos and symbols from the Vatican Library. But, as the saying goes, that’s not all …
The urn, right, “will feature a bold design reminiscent of the 24th century styling of the United Federation of Planets and Starfleet.” The casket “as been inspired by the popular ‘Photon Torpedo’ design seen in STAR TREK II: The Wrath of Kahn.” (BTW, as someone who has wept through that particular movie more times than he would care to admit, I can tell you that it’s spelled Khan.)
Nothing quite goes together like baseball and fiery incineration, I say. That would explain the licensing agreement just signed between Major League Baseball and Eternal Image Inc., a company which produces caskets and urns. Now that’s co-branding. The scary thing is I know they’ll sell. While I wouldn’t expect there to be a lot of requests for stuff with the Devil Rays’ logo on it (although that may turn out to be a hit with the Satanists), I know more than a few people likely to want those for a lot of other teams. Yankees, Red Sox, Cardinals … the list does go on. Cubs fans probably won’t be so interested though, they’ve already spent one eternity waiting to see their team rise again.*
However, there are far worse things than being buried in MLB copyrighted logos and colors. Eternal Image also a licensing agreements with Hallmark’s nauseating Precious Moments line. It would be like being buried in a Kewpie Doll. Still, that might be preferable to wearing Yankee pin stripes until the Second Coming or the heat death of the universe or whatever else you believe in. Eternal Image also has deals with the American Kennel Club and The Vatican Library Collection.
*FWIW, Mrs. Collateral Damage and I would like to invite you to a party we’ve been planning. It’s for sometime in the summer of 2008 and will be marking the centennial of the Cubs last winning the World Series. The exact date has yet to be determined because it will be on whatever day the Cubs are mathematically eliminated from play-off contention. While there are many who rightfully think we could hold the game on opening day, Mrs. CD is a stickler for accuracy and so we will wait until a little later in the season. This of course pre-supposes the Cubs will manage to not win (or even appear in) the Series in the next two years. A risk I’m willing to take.