Botanic name: Brunfelsia bonodora (syn. B. australis, B. latifolia)
On Tuesday I received my invitation from the University of Wollongong for the Annual Ceremony of Appreciation; each November the Vice-Chancellor of the University invites the donors and their families to this ceremony.
The donors of course are the body donors, the invitation gives a brief explanation of the reason for the ceremony;
People who donate their bodies for medical and scientific research make an invaluable contribution to the advancement of medical knowledge The University of Wollongong is greatly indebted to our donors and their families who have supported our Body Donation Program.
To acknowledge our profound gratitude and respect for this most special of gifts, the Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Wellings warmly invites you to attend this year’s annual Ceremony of Appreciation, to be held at the University, and to join him afterwards for refreshments.
I was unable to attend last year and I’m not sure if I can get there this; it’s an unusual ceremony, there is no religious influence, very simple. The V-C welcomes the guests makes a very short speech and then hands over to a senior medical student for the final part. In 2010 when I attended the student was a young man from America, who felt that because of the unavailability or it may have been prohibition of working on real bodies; only using computerized simulated corpses, he was unable to understand the human body properly. And so he had decided to come to Australia in the hope of becoming what he called a full doctor.
At the end of his talk he then proceeded to light a candle, not an ordinary wax candle but a large eternal candle (obviously a gas candle). Each year a new everlasting candle is added and the flame from the previous year lights the new one symbolizing the continuity of life. To the mount on which the candle will burn is added the names of those who have died and whose bodies were received in the year just past.
Everybody then adjourns to the gallery and the gardens adjoining the University Hall Foyer for refreshments, which are plentiful and delightful in all respects.
The University keeps track of every stage, of every part that the body goes through until such time as it is no longer of use. Sometimes, with a good corpse it can be up to eight years other times one or two, but however long the University keeps a tag on everything and at the finale the remains are cremated, and if the ashes are not wanted by any surviving relatives they are placed in a special wall devoted to body donors at the ‘Lakeside Memorial Park’
And Yesterday-Today-Tomorrow? This is the plant and flower symbol of the program.