The Young, The Old, The Dead

My dad told me yesterday that seniors don't EVER have to return library books. What kind of a load of crap is that? Just because they're old, they get to keep books out FOREVER? What if old people die, which they do, and then their books just get all crinkly and disintegrate? Or what if their books are left behind and forgotten until a new couple buys the deceased book-keeper's house which smells of moths and the said new owners kick all the ancient invaluables to the soggy curb? For months, I have been trying to check out Down the Nile, a nonfiction novel about a woman who rowed a tiny boat ALONE down the NILE, and it has never come back into the library. I bet I know who has it. Old people should be treated like people, yes. But this privilege is nonsense. Also yesterday, I had a scintillating conversation with my six year old buddy, Willow, who has uncanny smarts. He is all good questions. He's good people. Don't get me wrong, I don't value the young over the old-- he's like a little old man. All he emits is earnestness.

"So for your knee surgery," he says, "what are they going to build your new knee out of?"

"Well...this is wierd, Will, but the new parts they are putting in come from a dead person..."

Saucer eyes like coffee spilled in the middle of a small plate. "How is your body going to accept something that's dead?"

"Good question. It might not. But some people even get hearts from dead people and something as big as a heart ends up working just fine. Better than the original heart even."

"But what about all the blood vessels? The doctor just hooks em up?"

"Another good question. Yep. They hook em up." How do you explain a transplant to an acutely aware six-year-old?

"Is their family ok with all of this?"

"It's called being a 'donor.' The person's family is usually ok with it because when their relative dies and gives some of his parts to someone alive, he is making their life better."

"I'm ok with that," he eats the snowman cookie in one bite that I brought for him. After a long contemplative chew and a resolute swallow, he makes his decision. "I'd be a donor. If I died, I'd give you my heart."

I guess sometimes the whole world sits at a crumb-covered table on a Monday night.

And I would like to take this moment to thank all donors, but spefically the dead person who is already in my femur, tibia, and patella, and the dead person who will be in my body as various ligaments and tendons tomorrow. Your old parts and donations for sure have made me new.

(I just wish you'd have turned your library books in like the rest of us.)