Last words are interesting things, revealing much!
When he was 25, P. T. Barnum paid $1,000 to obtain the services of Joice Heth, a woman who claimed to be 161 years old and the wet nurse of George Washington. “Unquestionably the most astonishing and interesting curiosity in the world!” read one of Barnum’s handbills.
Sadly and terribly, Barnum exhibited her in New York and New England, raking in about $500 per day.
Appropriately, it is reported that Barnum’s famous last words were about the show, which was appearing in New York’s Madison Square Garden at the time: “How were the receipts today at the Garden?“ His box office take was most important to him. I guess it is true – our heart follows what we treasure—whether it be a career, a family, or a large accumulation of wealth in the bank.
Last Words that Reveal the Heart
“Codeine . . . bourbon.“ ~Tallulah Bankhead, actress, d. December 12, 1968
“Thomas Jefferson survives.”~John Adams, second President of the United States, said as he lay on his deathbed, on July 4, 1826 (John Adams and Thomas Jefferson started out as rivals, but they became friends later in life. Jefferson had actually died some hours earlier, also on July 4.)
“Josephine...” ~ Napoleon Bonaparte, French Emperor, May 5, 1821
A party! Let’s have a party.” ~Birth control advocate Margaret Sanger
“I’m bored with it all.“ ~Winston Churchill, statesman, d. January 24, 1965 (Before slipping into a coma. He died 9 days later.)
“Money can’t buy life.” ~Bob Marley, musician
Some reports say Beethoven, who was deaf by the end of life, said: “I will hear in heaven.” ~Ludwig van Beethoven, composer, d. March 26, 1827.
President John F. Kennedy got out the words “No, you certainly can’t…” the instant before he was shot by Lee Harvey Oswald in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963.
Humphrey Bogart’s wife Lauren Bacall had to leave the house to pick up their kids. Bogart said, “Goodbye, kid. Hurry back.” Not quite, “Here’s looking at you, kid,” but close.
“Swing low, sweet chariot…” ~Harriet Tubman sang with her gathered family.
J.S.Bach whispered, “Don’t cry for me, for I go where music is born.”
“D*** it . . . Don’t you dare ask God to help me.“ ~Joan Crawford, actress, d. May 10, 1977 (To her housekeeper, who had begun to pray aloud.)
“I am not the least afraid to die.“ ~Charles Darwin, d. April 19, 1882
“It is very beautiful over there...” ~Thomas Alva Edison, inventor, d. October 18, 1931
“Pardon me, monsieur. I didn’t do it on purpose.” ~Marie Antoinette as she accidentally stepped on her executioner’s foot on her way to the guillotine.
“All my possessions for a moment of time.“ ~Elizabeth I, Queen of England, d. 1603
“Is it the Fourth?“ ~Thomas Jefferson, US President, d. July 4, 1826
“A King should die standing.“ ~Louis XVIII, King of France, d. 1824
“Go on, get out – last words are for fools who haven’t said enough.“ ~Karl Marx, revolutionary, d. 1883 (To his housekeeper, who urged him to tell her his last words so she could write them down for posterity.)
“Trust in God and you shall have nothing to fear.” ~Jonathan Edwards
“I am about to take my last voyage, a great leap in the dark.” ~Thomas Hobbs
“I have a tender reliance on the mercy of the Almighty, through the merits of the Lord Jesus Christ. I am a sinner. I look to Him for mercy.” ~Alexander Hamilton
“I’m going, but I’m going in the name of the Lord.” ~Blues singer Bessie Smith
“Nothing matters. Nothing matters.“ ~Louis B. Mayer, film producer, d. October 29, 1957
“Woe is me. Me thinks I’m turning into a god.” ~Vespasian, Roman Emperor, d. 79 AD
“Now comes the mystery.” ~Henry Ward Beecher, evangelist, d. March 8, 1887
“My dear children, do not grieve for me . . . I am my God’s. I belong to Him. I go but a short time before you, and …I hope and trust to meet you all in heaven.” ~Andrew Jackson
May we live our lives so our last words in this life bring glory to God, affirm our affection for those we love, and find our eyes focused on our Savior.
What will your dying words be, which others may remember long after you are gone?
Do you know other famous last words to share here?
Note: the source for most of these is Last Words of Notable People: Final Words of More than 3500 Noteworthy People Throughout History
“…for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” ~Matthew 6:21 NASB
I really enjoyed this. It was interesting to see the peoples last words. They really show what was important to them and what they thought of their life.
I find so many of these to be incredibly sad. Jesus’ last words bring quite the challenge to consider. Are we really living out these commands as if they are more important than anything else? I know many days my answer is “no.” Thanks for prodding at my thoughts this evening. Blessings to you!
They prodded at me, as well. I am thankful to have heard a gentleman speak on missions last Sunday at our church, and he shared the quote from P.T. Barnum contrasting it to Jesus’ last words before the ascension. What really is important to me?
It is so interesting — and so sad — how so many have shaken a fist at God right up until their moment of being ushered into eternity. And yet, what comfort they could have had from Jesus’s last words, his promise to be with us always. Great post. Thank you!
How scary to think of a person telling someone not to PRAY for them as they are dying. Oh, my, how they truly did need it.
A minister told of another minster saying JESUS meant more to him at that moment than ever before as he was making his crossing. That is a testimony indeed.
As a nurse, I have often been very observant when a conscious patient (not under anesthesia) was passing (whether to glory or hell). We cannot know, except by what they report to seeing. It has been very interesting, especially in home hospice care to hear the words (and facial expressions) of patients..mental anguish and reports of dread and fear, not peace and calm…regardless of pain!! My, you were up late, dear friend…do you live on the West Coast?? Lol Blessings 🙂
I actually had gotten up. Live in North Georgia. My sleeping pattern has not been the best since I retired. For all our married life I have been used to getting up very early and now I don’t have too. Sometimes I wake up very early and sometimes I don’t.
Thank you for sharing about your sleep pattern. Sleep is my weak spot. I have never really required as much as most people, but now that I’ve hit 60, I seem to need more. My body is so tired, but my mind is so active. I have no self-discipline in that area.
N. Georgia ~ I remember it to be very beautiful country, but it’s been years since we passed through. God bless you tonight…sleep well 😉
Like others have mentioned, some of these quotes are quite scary. My jaw literally dropped open when I read that a few of these people adamantly refused for people to pray for them on their death bad. It’s not only sad, but quite heart breaking. I wonder how Jesus felt about that?
As I read the quotes, it made me think about something else – what will my last words be when the Lord chooses to relieve me from this earth? I’m hoping that my last words will reflect my faith in Christ and the hope of the resurrection. I pray that my last words will not be upon worldly matters.
This is a very though provoking post. I pray that all who read it will be humbled.
Oh, yes, I agree.
The words that moved me to tears were those of Karl Marx. Did you note that the maid recorded them anyway?? Ironic!
Very interesting, Jacqueline. A friend of ours who worked on the National Transportation Safety Board investigated plane crashes. He always had to listen to the recordings on the little black boxes to try to determine the cause of the crash. So he basically had to listen to the last words of the pilot and co-pilot. And he said that most of the time, seconds before the crash, these people were cursing God, instead of crying out to Him. So sad.
Blessings in Christ,
Oh, that IS terribly sad. Lord, may more people come to know you before they meet death however it comes. May we be excellent witnesses for Your glory everywhere we go. Help us to have hearts and words that bless and not cause our brother to stumble…
I’m glad to see you here, Lisa. Have a blessed day, friend 🙂
What great thoughts! I’ve always liked Stephen Covey’s “Begin with the end in mind” activity where you imagine what your eulogy would say– think about what we would like to be remembered for. Too often I just look at TODAY. Good reminder!
I have thought about how people would remember me, especially my children…it was usually conviction from the Holy Spirit when I knew I was in the wrong and had to apologize to them…it surely helped me to ‘get on track’ and stay there in the area of conduct and motive 🙂 I will have to read more on Covey; I’m not very familiar with his writings.
Blessings, Auntie Em~
Kate @ Teaching What is Good
GREAT post – and a great challenge for us to look at and follow the last thing Jesus shared with His disciples! (and to look at our own lives and see if we are putting our heart and energy into what we claim is most truly important to us)
And then there was Stonewall Jackson, who in a moment of clarity (he was in delirium from pneumonia) said, “Let us cross over the River, and rest in the shade of the trees.”
I remember reading his story and loving the heart of the man. What a leader and husband he was! Thank you for reminding me, Auntie Em 🙂
Love is a Verb
Some of them are CHILLING. How sad – and “WOW”. I agree with you whole heartily. I got sooo excited to read your words…YES, we NEED to reach our neighbors & “make disciples”. My heart skips a beat at the excitement!!! WHAT AN HONOR WE HAVE!!! Thank you for the encouragement! Christy
One of my dear brothers in Christ passed recently. His last words to his wife were: “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
Aimee, I am sorry for your friend’s loss of her husband, but what a sweet gift to leave her – knowledge of his faith and strength to carry on in the face of the evil all around us today!
Thank you for sharing that here!