Trust me, You Won’t Feel a Thing

You hear the most interesting things when you listen.

You hear the most interesting things when you listen.

I just had an unusual conversation with my mom.

She’s 82.

We were talking about someone who had just died–no one that close to us, but a relative of a someone we both care about. Our discussion meandered to the expenses surrounding funerals.

Someone asked, “What about giving your body to science? I heard it’s free.”

I’m pretty sure my mom asked, because:

1. She says what’s on her mind without any filters since she’s turned 80.

2. She’s on a fixed (and dwindling) income.

3. She watches a lot of “true” crime and forensics shows on TV.

4. I already know about the topic because I’ve made arrangements to give my body to science.

My mom wanted intel on everything from the pick-up of the dearly departed to the eventual delivery of whatever remained.

Mom may have had me confused with someone who works in the dead body business.

Mom may have had me confused with someone who works in the dead body business.

She was curious and I was the closest thing to the Encyclopedia Britannica, Volume D, Section: Death, Sub-Section: Donations to Science.

Here’s how our conversation went.

Mom: “How do they know you are dead?”

Me: “I’m registered with them and carry a card in my wallet. Phil has my card in his wallet, too. Plus all the forms are in my ‘death documents,” so–”

Mom: “Death documents?”

Me: “Yeah, my will, health care proxy, you know?”

Mom: “Oh, I thought you needed some special document to die in Washington.”

Me: (Chuckling) “Not that I know of. Anyway. When I’m dead, someone calls the number on that card and the ‘Science Care’ people are supposed to send someone to pick me up and cart me away.”

Mom: “Who picks you up?”

Me: “I don’t know. They must have contracts with various companies all over the country.”

Mom: “Probably not with funeral homes. They would be mad because they’re losing business.”

Me: “No, probably not with funeral homes. More likely with private ambulance companies or whoever is licensed to transport dead bodies. They must have a system, but I don’t know what it is.”

Mom: “What if you were murdered?”

Me: “Um…I suppose they would have to wait until my body was released to the family after the investigation was complete.”

Mom: “Makes sense.”

Me: “Really? You think I could be murdered?”

Mom: “You never know, Lorna. It happens more often than you think. Do they ever reject a body because it’s too old?”

Me: “No, because mostly they use the bodies for medical school cadavers and for forensic experiments. Let’s say they wanted to test the effects of a chemical fire on human flesh. They could put an old body in a building or enclosure and burn it. They can learn lots of things from old bodies, trust me.”

Mom: “But I want my ashes scattered in the Atlantic Ocean.”

Me: “Hmm. All I know is they say they will provide your cremains to the person you designate if you want them returned. I have no idea how they do that if they use your body for experimentation. I bet if you say you want your cremains returned, they make sure you are used as a cadaver for medical students…but I can’t be sure.”

Mom: “And this is free?”

Me: “Yup. All you have to do is fill out some forms and sign up. But they do say that there is a small chance they won’t accept your body…a real small chance, but they reserve the right not to take you into the program.”

Mom: “I thought you said they took even old bodies!”

Me: “They do, but let’s say your body was unusable for dissection or already decomposed, they really couldn’t do much with you, right?” (Anticipating her confusion, I added) “What if I went bungee jumping over a cement platform and the cord broke? My body would be splattered on the pavement and they’d have to scrape me up with a shovel (I actually said this to my mom). They probably wouldn’t take me.”

Mom: “Makes sense. Could you give Tina (my older sister and her primary care giver) the information. I want to do this. Did you sign up just to save the money?”

Me: “Well, I never liked the idea of spending a lot of money on caskets and funerals, but I mostly did it as my last gift to society. If I can teach one last thing to someone, then, I want to do that.”

Mom: “Yes, I like that idea. And it’s free.”

Me: “It’s definitely free, Mom.”

We began talking about other things, but, for the life of me, I can’t remember what. She never flinched at the idea of her daughter being murdered or reduced to mush on the pavement.

She’s a pragmatist. When you’re dead, you’re dead. You won’t feel a thing.

My mom celebrating her 82nd birthday. Soon to be among the thousands carrying that card that says, "I'm giving this sassy bod to science. Cart me away for free!"

My mom celebrating her 82nd birthday. Soon to be among the thousands carrying that card that says, “I’m giving this sassy bod to science. Cart me away for free!”

What’s the most bizarre conversation with anyone you’ve had lately?

My most sincere apologies to anyone whose religious, moral or human sensibilities were offended by this rather blunt discussion of death and corpses.  I suppose when you’re 82 and my mom, you don’t have a great deal of time to fancy-dance around the realities of life. I get that.



~ by Lorna's Voice on August 25, 2015.

39 Responses to “Trust me, You Won’t Feel a Thing”

  1. I really doubt I can top this!

  2. An interesting one, for sure! 🙂

  3. Great idea! 🙂

  4. Be sure to use your camera to record photos and videos for future viewing. I have many photo of my hubby and me that I think are awful when I take them but then a year later I look at them and say, ” Woo, I looked mighty fine then.” It keeps the changes in focus. I hope you’re enjoying your camera. I’ve been waited for those quilt photos. I know they’re fabulous creations. 😎

  5. Fantastic conversation Lorna. Thanks to you and your mom for sharing. 🙂

  6. Just glad I didn’t miss it. No worries!

  7. I wanted to say that, but…

  8. That’s why I called. I call her at least twice a week and I’m flying out to see her at the end of October…

  9. She looks great, I agree. I come from a great gene pool! And as for the med students, ah, let ’em have some fun. I won’t know it or feel it and it’s all part of the teaching experience to be a good sport! 🙂

  10. I admire that you’ve thought this through so well and actually did something about it. The bit about advancing science sounds good, but the thought of med school students playing jokes with my private bits just doesn’t sit well.

    BTW, no way your mom looks 82- she’s a doll!

  11. Memories are far more valuable than gold. Gather them while you’re still able. Time is always fleeting. ❤️

  12. Now that there was funny! We are all about sales and saving $$. Mom’s dad was Jewish!

  13. Yes I know, I’ve been terrible! You didn’t miss it, I’ve just not done it yet! I have a post for tomorrow, which still isn’t it, but there is an apology at the end about it. It WILL get done soon 🙂

  14. And vise versa!

  15. Yeah, right?

  16. Oh, and you didn’t hear all the other scenarios we discussed–decapitation, decomp in a landfill–it was quite a conversation! 😐

  17. Me too! I just spoke with my sister, to whom I sent the info, and she and her husband may be signing up, too. I wonder if I should become a sales person for this company! 😉

  18. Yeah, no pussy-footing around with her! She was always one to leap straight to the point and age has exaggerate that quality! 🙂

  19. The conversation wasn’t funny at all…just matter-of-fact. I only realized how funny it was when I started thinking about it. My mom is great and I will remember this conversation fondly for a long time to come!

  20. Well, if you remember, then, please share, V. I’m sure it will be worth hearing about.

    And whatever happened to the “contest” in which we were to guess what you actually did or didn’t didn’t do (can’t remember now which it was)? Did I miss the results?

  21. Yes, and so was I. 🙂

  22. She was being practical and straight to the point.

  23. That’s so funny that this discussion took place in such a matter-of-fact way! No “Ooh, don’t say that! I don’t want to think about that! Take those words back, undo, undo, undo!” Now I’m wondering what the system is over here. I guess it’s just like being an organ donor but on a much larger scale. I feel like I’ve had a strange conversation recently but I can’t remember what it was about. I think with one of my kids…hmmm…what WAS it, that’s going to bug me now!

  24. The best way to deal with death is humor. I think your Mom looks wonderful. She sounds like she’s full of life and living. Happy Birthday and many more !!

  25. I like the way she goes straight to the point: “Did you sign up just to save the money?” She’s great.

  26. I think it is very healthy to have talks like this!

  27. Your mom ROCKS! 🙂 I hope i can be as philosophical about it when I’m her age; always assuming I don’t get murdered first or end up squished after the bungee breaks in mid air. 😆

  28. 🙂

  29. Oh, the things parents can learn from their children.

  30. Well, even if they do, trust me, I won’t care and I won’t feel a thing! 🙂 I just hope Phil takes a picture and posts it here. What a way to go, huh? 😉

  31. Thanks Harry. I come from an excellent gene pool! 🙂

  32. Totally ewwwww. After I said it, I thought to myself, “Did I just say that out loud…to my mother?” But she never flinched or told me to stop it. I also talked about decapitation, decomposition in a landfill and some other unsavory stuff. I knew she could take it. She loves those crimes shows!

  33. Good for her! I hope she’s like my mom and still in relatively good health. It’s her good health that made this conversation so easy and, well, fun. 😉

  34. Funny. Not surprising at all, Soul Sistah!

  35. Love the photo of your mom and boy does that ice cream look yummy. My mom was the same, pragmatic. No surprise. ❤

  36. I love moms. They are so practical, no messing around, at least our two moms seem to be that way. My mom is 86 and still lives in her home.

  37. I’ve given mine to science. It’s all the rage.

    Hope they don’t need a shovel for you, though. Because Ewwwwww.

  38. Like it, she looks wonderful.

  39. To coin a Lorna type word, this is morbidious (morbid + hilarious). I just hope they don’t send Igor from Young Frankenstein (that’s pronounced “Fronk-un-steen”) to pick up your body.

Silence can be just what the doctor ordered. You know I'm a doctor, right?

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