Photo of my father on his honeymoon.
Radio interruptus: I started to listen to Terry Gross interview Kevin Young on Fresh Air last month. My listening was interrupted by a call from my aunt and I just now finished listening to this radio piece. This interview combines two of my passions: poetry and the importance of organ donation.
I have Kevin Young’s book, Dear Darkness: Poems , and the poetry book he edited of food-related poems, The Hungry Ear: Poems of Food and Drink. The title of his new book, Book of Hours: Poems, reminds me of a favorite poetry book, Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God. In Young’s Book of Hours, he draws inspiration from the death of his father and the birth of his son. His poem, Solace, is about the process of donating his father’s organs. “Corneas–Yes.” His father was an eye doctor so this seemed especially poignant.
The interview made me think of the death of my uncle a couple of years ago. He, like my mother, died from colon cancer. I remember when he was going through chemotherapy for his colon cancer. He was outside on a hot, humid summer day, undaunted, shoveling mulch onto the base of new trees. I found out at his memorial service that he had donated his body to medicine through the Anatomical Gift Association of Illinois. This act perpetuated the generous spirit with which he lived his life.
If you are interested in donating your body, you may use the forms on the AGA website. If you want to donate your organs only, an easy way is at the Department of Motor Vehicles. When you are at the DMV renewing your driver’s license, it’s easy to make your wishes for organ donation known, by just saying “Yes” when they ask you about organ donation. Or you can register with the DMV online. If you are in a fatal accident, it is a quick way for first responders to note that you want to donate your organs. Timing is critical. People hesitate to be organ donors because of fear and some misconceptions.
The power to help someone live or improve their life rests with you. That’s pretty poetic.