Famous Last Words
Well, that's the problem being famous... your last words are liable to recorded and reported for posterity. So you better plan on being intelligible and intelligent when the Grim Reaper calls. I think Steve Jobs missed the mark here -- or perhaps he is just emblematic of the current state of our ability to communicate. "Oh wow, oh wow, oh wow," leaves a lot to be desired. On the other hand, maybe he was seeing something incredible in the great beyond which rendered him virtually speechless. Like the fact that the battery on the just-released iPhone 4S couldn't last longer than a hail stone on a hot July afternoon.
His relative incoherence led me to check out some last utterances from other famous departed, which I present for your inspection:
John Adams, one of our Founding Fathers and intense rival of Thomas Jefferson (1735-1826) "Thomas Jefferson--still survives..." (uttered on July 4, 1826 -- yes, Independence Day. Note: Jefferson died on the same day.) Talk about passion that lasted a lifetime...
While Adams complained about his rival, Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) spoke thus: "Is it the Fourth?"
Comedian Lou Costello (1906-1959) reportedly commented: "That was the best
ice-cream soda I ever tasted." I do not know if he indeed ate an ice-cream soda immediately prior to dying, or if he was remembering a happy instance from the recent or distant past! I know that given my own love of ice cream, particularly Oberweis Dairy's Chocolate Marshmallow and Udderly Truffles flavors, I might very well whisper this upon my passing as well.
Actor Errol Flynn (1909-1959): "I've had a hell of a lot of fun and I've enjoyed every minute of it." (Reportedly said shortly before his death.) Would that we all should be able to say as much looking death in the face!
Economist and proponent of government fiscal and monetary interventions John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946): "I wish I'd drunk more champagne." (Oh, never let that be your dying wish: quaff the champagne now, while you can!)
Writer Gertrude Stein (1874-1946): Just before she died, she asked, "What is the answer?' No answer came. She laughed and said, "In that case what is the question?" Then she died.
Writer and renowned alcoholic Dylan Thomas (1914-1953): After a night of carousing at the White Horse Tavern in Manhattan: "I have just had eighteen whiskeys in a row. I do believe that is a record." I believe I will stick with the ice cream...
My favorite, however, is the last utterance of Francisco "Pancho" Villa, renowned Mexican revolutionary (1878-1923): "Don't let it end like this. Tell them I said something."
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