Famous Last Words

Down at the Frederic library yesterday, the Cucumber Guys were discussing the purported last words of Voltaire and the discussion meandered into the last words of other famous people.  Jerry, Ken and I could all think of some comments made by people on their death beds.  Most of these comments are very interesting, perhaps because you don’t think anyone is going to lie when they only have a few minutes to live.  Or perhaps, we are fascinated because of some irony that these last words provoke.  Voltaire is supposed to have refused to repent his sins because “He did not want to make any more enemies before he died.”  He was referring to the fact that Satan would be upset if he now recanted on his lack of belief in religion or Christianity.  Socrates last words were:  “Crito, we owe a rooster to Asclepius. Please, don’t forget to pay the debt.”  (Asclepius was the Greek god for curing illness, and it is likely Socrates’ last words meant that death is the cure—and freedom, of the soul from the body.) (Wikipedia reference) 

Regardless of the reason for our fascination with these “last words”, there is no doubt that many of us find considerable inspiration in the last words of others.  I am going to share some that I like in the rest of this blog today.  If any of these motivate you, please feel free to send me your comments on why they inspire or excite you, or simply send me some famous last words that you like.  I may post again on this subject if you can send me enough inspiration. 

·       Adams, John (1735-1826) “Thomas Jefferson–still survives…” (4 July 1826. Jefferson died on the same day.)
·       Barrymore, John (1882-1942) Die? I should say not, dear fellow. No Barrymore would allow such a conventional thing to happen to him.
·       Eastman, George (1854-1932) “My work is done, why wait?” (His suicide note.)
·       Marx, Karl (1818-1883) “Go on, get out. Last words are for fools who haven’t said enough.”
·       Picasso, Pablo (1881-1973) “Drink to me.”
·       Runyon, Damon (1884-1946) “You can keep the things of bronze and stone and give me one man to remember me just once a year.”
·       Stein, Gertrude (1874-1946) “Just before she [Stein] died she asked, `What _is_ the answer?’ No answer came. She laughed and said, `In that case what is the question?’ Then she died.”
The above list of my favorites was taken from a much more extensive list that can be found at http://www.mapping.com/words.shtml Real Last Words from Famous People.

So as you ponder my list, will it provoke you to think the obvious or maybe not so obvious?  Is it too early to wonder or maybe even plan what you will say for your last words?  My friend Harold was reported to have said “No regrets.”  I wonder what my last words will be.  We may not have a choice over our last words now but we can decide now what we want written on our tombstone.  Will you go out simply with your name and date of death or will you leave some inspiration for future cemetery wanderers?  What would you like written on your tombstone?  What do you want the world to remember you for?  This is something we do have a choice over.   What would your epitaph be?  Are you living it now? 

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