“Yee-haw!” was my immediate answer.
That was good for some laughs, but in a way I hope it’s true. That means I went out having fun.
It’s interesting how much or how little importance we place on our final utterances. It’s almost as if we’ll be remembered for that, than the lifetime of things we said or did. Not all of us will get the chance to plan what our last words will be. Even if we do, there is no guarantee that we will say them or that anyone will remember them.
Sometimes it is fun to look back at some of the last words of the famous (or should that be famous last words?).
“Now comes the mystery.” – Henry Ward Beecher, evangelist, March 8, 1887
“Friends applaud, the comedy is finished.” – Ludwig van Beethoven, composer, March 26, 1827
“Now I shall go to sleep. Goodnight.” – Lord George Byron, writer, 1824
“I’m bored with it all.” – Winston Churchill, statesman, Jan. 24, 1965, Before slipping into a coma. He died nine days later.
“That was the best ice-cream soda I ever tasted.” – Lou Costello, comedian, March 3, 1959
“KHAQQ calling Itasca. We must be on you, but cannot see you. Gas is running low.” – Amelia Earhart, 1937, Last radio communiqué before her disappearance.
“All my possessions for a moment of time.” – Elizabeth I, Queen of England, 1603
“I’ve never felt better.” Douglas Fairbanks Sr., actor, Dec. 12, 1939
“I’ve had a hell of a lot of fun and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.” – Errol Flynn, actor, Oct. 14, 1959
“Go on, get out – last words are for fools who haven’t said enough.” – Karl Marx, revolutionary, 1883, to his housekeeper, who urged him to tell her his last words so she could write them down for posterity.
“I owe much; I have nothing; the rest I leave to the poor.” – François Rabelais, writer, 1553
“I have a terrific headache.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt, U.S. President, 1945, He died of a cerebral hemorrhage.
“Put out the light.” – Theodore Roosevelt, U.S. President, 1919
“They couldn’t hit an elephant at this dist…” – Gen. John Sedgwick, Union Commander, 1864, killed in battle during U.S. Civil War.
“I’ve had 18 straight whiskies, I think that’s the record …” – Dylan Thomas, poet, 1953
“I have offended God and mankind because my work did not reach the quality it should have.” – Leonardo da Vinci, 1519
Of course, a lot of people who die in accidents often utter words that cannot be printed in a family-friendly newspaper. But as Bill Cosby once said, “First you say it, then you do it.”
I don’t like to dwell on death, but the thought does often cross my mind. I make sure as I leave for work each day that I kiss each member of my family and tell them I love them. If anything were to happen to me (or to any of them), I want them to remember my last words and deeds as that of love and affection. Plus it just seems to help brighten everyone’s day.
As I think about what I want my last words to be, I guess it all really depends on the time and conditions of my departure. If I am fortunate enough to die an old man in my bed surrounded by my family, I would hope my last words are, “I love you.”
Should I be lucky enough to be alive at the time of the rapture, I like to think my final words in this fleshy body would be, “Take me Lord Jesus, I am yours.”
Come to think of it, those aren’t bad last words under any circumstances. So let it be known, dear family and friends, no matter what my actual last words are, I want them to be remembered as a commitment of my soul to God, just as Jesus did on the cross as recorded in Luke 23:46: “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”
(Editor’s note: This column first appeared in The Waller County News Citizen in March 2010.)