Friday, April 28, 2006
Mrs. Linklater Has a New Cockamammy Theory
I've decided not to die just yet.
However, I have made plans to donate my body to medical science. To get you to volunteer, medical schools offer to have your body cremated for free after they use it for anatomy class. Your ashes are sent back to your family. Did I mention FOR FREE?
Coming from a family where my doctor father had a joke name for his medical school cadaver, you might think I would have second thoughts. He called his cadaver Ernest, because he was working in dead Ernest.
However, after my father died and his burial costs were enough for the downpayment on a summer home or a really nice double wide in a trailer park, I decided there had to be a way around spending that kind of money. Needless to say my family wasn't thrilled with the idea of donating my body. The idea of saving a boatload of dough didn't have the appeal I thought it would, but, so far, they are willing to honor my request. I don't think they had their fingers crossed.
To help them feel better about my decision, I heard that Northwestern University medical school put some rules in place to prevent the rampant disrespectful behavior of the past.
These days, I guess, instead of allowing disparaging nicknames for cadavers, they tell the students the real first name of the person whose body they will be dissecting -- to remind them that this was a real person. Accepting a cadaver as a real person can be hard because cadavers are shot full of so many preservatives that they don't look real. Why do I know this? One of the perks of dating a med student in college is that they always want to show you things like that. Lucky me.
After the anatomy class has ended, I understand that NU holds a non religious ceremony to honor the bodies for their service. So I thought that would help my squeamish relatives accept my wish to be donated.
Personally, I figure once I'm dead, I am gone -- my body is just a shell, but I am glad there has been an effort to prevent medical students from thinking it's okay to steal cadaver ears and put them on someone's Jello -- like I saw at lunch one day at college.
When my ashes are returned I want them scattered around my favorite places -- the drive up at Wendy's, my computer screen, Russell Crowe's pocket, the bakery aisle at Costco, you know. Or scatter them to the wind. Just don't put me in the ground, please. They'll want money for that too. Frankly, the thought of being in the ground makes me feel claustrophobic, even though I'll be dead.
Unfortunately, lately I've been reading about unscrupulous people at funeral homes [for instance, FUNERAL DIRECTORS] who work in collusion with greedy people at medical schools, hospitals, and related businesses to sell them body parts for hundreds of thousands of dollars. It's much more ghoulish than that apparently, since some also harvest organs [skin and corneas, etc.] to be transplanted, without regard for what the person died of.
To recoup their losses for not being able to sell you that overpriced, natural veneer, mahagony finish coffin with the genuine satin interior and the real brass handles, along with a huge cement vault to protect it from the worms that will feast on your remains, the funeral folks just PRETEND your body has been cremated [or sent to a medical school] and make a killing, pardon an expression, by selling your parts.
The practice gives new meaning to ARMS DEALER.
Here's a heartwarming dissection, oops, sorry, of this whole body parts business that I found at a newsblog.
Let's get Mrs. L's cockamammy theory rolling. People who want to be cremated can really affect a funeral home's bottom line. I saw one place that wanted $3500 for an urn, which is a joke, but that was nothing compared to $10,000 for their cheapest coffin. I should mention that they give you a viewing room, play nice music and drive the body to its hole in the ground as part of the deal. Nevermind what it costs for the hole in the ground, even when you're in an urn, although there's always the mantle.
I am their worst nightmare. No viewing except at the hospital or the house or wherever my body has come to rest, within reason. Only my kids and immediate family. Just get me to the place that prepares bodies for the medical school -- they may even come pick me up. For free.
Meanwhile, I think some funeral home association has hired a pr firm to spread the awful stories about bodies being stolen on their way to cremation, or medical school, so that people will beg to have a coffin and be buried in the ground. Of course, if you can't close and lock the coffin yourself, they can get you on the way to the cemetery too, but let's not go there.
Funeral directors -- the honest ones -- have to be thrilled that there are people dealing in illegal body parts. Especially since there's no easy, inexpensive way to identify the ashes that your family gets back. Nothing like creeping people out to build up your business. What do you bet they'll be adding a window to the top of the coffin so you can see that the body is there before it goes into the ground?
But that won't stop me on my mission to die for free. Or perhaps even make some money on the deal.
Finding out I'm worth a small fortune as a dead body sold for its parts gives me an idea, actually. Why not cut out the middle man altogether and have my family sell me directly to the arms dealer, as it were, so they -- my family -- can pocket the money themselves. My value is up to $300,000 in some places. Plus I'm tall, so there's more of me to donate.
A nice little legacy don't you think?