Poignant, wise, funny, sad, mean, or weird –last words can make quite the impact as we scuffle off the stage of life. Here are some notable examples from great men and women that history has served.
Jesus Christ considered (or ranked) number 1 (one) on the list of last words by famous people, his last words were, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.” He sparked a revolution that goes strong to this day.
Composer Gustav Mahler died in bed, conducting an imaginary orchestra. His last word was, “Mozart!”
Perfectionist composer Jean-Philippe Rameau on the other hand objected to a song sung at his bedside at the hospice care. His last words to the priest by his bedside bellowing out tunes were, “What the devil do you mean to sing to me, priest? You are out of tune.” From then on, the priest made it a point to get the right key and tune to every song he and his congregation sang.
William Henry Seward, architect of the Alaska Purchase, when asked if he had any final words. He simply replied, “Nothing, only ‘love one another.’”
Philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre within for love when on his deathbed he turned to his partner Simone de Beauvoir and declared, “I love you very much, my dear Beaver.”
Greatness and Humility
When Sir Isaac Newton died, he was humble. He said, “I don’t know what I may seem to the world. But as to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore and diverting myself now and then in finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than the ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.”
Leonardo da Vinci was also overly modest, saying, “I have offended God and mankind because my work did not reach the quality it should have.” Yet here we are today still marveling at the Mona Lisa.
On the other hand, Richard Feynman, a professor, physicist, musician, author and traveler, last words on his deathbed in Los Angeles in 1988 were, “This dying is boring.” To him, death kept him from achieving even more than he would have wanted to achieve alive. Winston Churchill, the greatest statesman –his last words were also “I’m bored with it all.”
While another passionate achiever, Albert Abraham Michelson who died at the age 78 dedicated his life to measuring the speed of light and was the first American to win a Nobel Prize for physics. Before his last breath he was still measuring light. He wrote in his log: “The following is a report on the measurement of the velocity of light made at the Irvine Ranch, near Santa Ana, California, during the period of September 1929 to—.”
Last but certainly not least, although uncanny was Thomas B. Moran a pickpocket, known by the nickname “Butterfingers.” He reportedly stole as many as 50,000 wallets in his career. He died in Miami in 1971, and his last words were, “I’ve never forgiven that smart-alecky reporter who named me Butterfingers. To me, it’s not funny.”