Dear Abby: I work in a palliative care unit in a local hospital, and I'm all too aware of how important it is to have one's end-of-life wishes documented, notarized and on-hand in case of an emergency.
I remember reading an essay that appeared in your column years ago; it eloquently described the desire of the writer that his body be used to allow others to live through organ donation. Is it part of your "Keepers" booklet? – Jynna in North Carolina
Dear Jynna: Yes, it is included. And I'm printing it for you today because it contains an important message. The author, Robert Test, was not only altruistic, but also the ultimate "recycler."
"To Remember Me" by Robert Test
"At a certain moment a doctor will determine that my brain has ceased to function and that, for all intents and purposes, my life has stopped.
"When that happens, do not attempt to instill artificial life into my body by the use of a machine. And don't call this my 'deathbed.' Call it my 'bed of life,' and let my body be taken from it to help others lead fuller lives.
"Give my sight to a man who has never seen a sunrise, a baby's face or love in the eyes of a woman.
"Give my heart to a person whose own heart has caused nothing but endless days of pain.
"Give my blood to the teenager who has been pulled from the wreckage of his car, so that he might live to see his grandchildren play.
"Give my kidneys to one who depends on a machine to exist from week to week.
"Take my bones, every muscle, every fiber and nerve in my body and find a way to make a crippled child walk.
"Explore every corner of my brain. Take my cells, if necessary, and let them grow so that someday a speechless boy will shout at the crack of a bat and a deaf girl will hear the sound of rain against her windows.
"Burn what is left of me and scatter the ashes to the winds to help the flowers grow.
"If you must bury something, let it be my faults, my weaknesses and all my prejudice against my fellow man.
"Give my soul to God. If by chance you wish to remember me, do it with a kind deed or word to someone who needs you. If you do all I have asked, I will live forever."
Readers, "Keepers" is a collection of favorite letters, poems and essays that have appeared in this column over the years. It was assembled because so many readers said the items were meaningful to them and requested that they be compiled as a booklet. It can be ordered by sending your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. Shipping and handling are included in the price. It covers subjects from temptation to forgiveness, animals, children and human nature. Filled with down-to-earth nuggets of wisdom, both philosophical and witty, it's a quick, easy read, and an inexpensive gift for newlyweds, pet lovers, new parents or anyone recovering from an illness because it covers a wide variety of subjects.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.