Dear Readers: I recently learned from Bruce B. Conway, president of The Living Bank, that Robert N. Test died last fall. Test was one of the pioneers in promoting organ and tissue donations.
In 1976, he wrote an essay titled "To Remember Me." It was first published in The Cincinnati Post, and later in Ann Landers' column and mine, as well as in Reader's Digest.Some years ago, I met Robert Test and was surprised to find a shy, middle-aged man who seemed embarrassed by all of the attention he was getting for a "little essay." He said he had written it during his lunch break. He told me he had only a high school education and wrote "for the fun of it."
In my opinion, Mr. Test's "little essay" is one of the most beautiful pieces of writing I have ever read, and I think it is appropriate that I publish it again during National Organ Donor Awareness Week, April 16-21:
TO REMEMBER ME
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 sins to the devil. 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, a Robert Noel Test Memorial Donor Education Fund has been established to perpetuate "To Remember Me" and other donor education programs of The Living Bank, P.O. Box 6725, Houston, TX 77265. The Living Bank is a nonprofit organization that operates as a public service - and donations are tax-deductible.
To order "How to Write Letters for All Occasions," send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Letter Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)