"People who see themselves primarily as victims are doomed." -- Louise Erdrich, "The Sentence"

Saturday, May 20, 2023

Last Lines

     We've all read about the last words of some famous people. For example, drummer Buddy Rich died after surgery in 1987.  As he was being prepped for the operation a nurse asked him, "Is there anything you can't take?" And he responded, "Yeah, country music."

     Or the composer Gustav Mahler who died in bed. He reportedly was conducting an imaginary orchestra. His last word was: "Mozart!"

     Basketball great "Pistol" Pete Maravich collapsed during a pickup basketball game. His last words were: "I feel fine."

     John Wayne who died in L.A. at age 72 turned to his wife and said, "Of course I know who you are. You're my girl. I love you."

     Joe DiMaggio reportedly said, "I finally get to see Marilyn."

     Then there's my favorite, from Steve Jobs. According to his sister Mona, the Apple founder's last words were, "Oh wow. Oh wow. Oh wow!"

     But famous endings go beyond last words. My favorite ending to a TV show is from The Sopranos, when the screen just goes black.

     You probably remember Mary Tyler Moore who was laid off along with her TV family, saying goodbye, then turning out the lights in the studio and walking away.

     Or Ted Danson, aka Sam Malone, turning away a customer at Cheers and saying, "Sorry, we're closed."

     My favorite last line from the movies is from the coming-of-age drama Stand By Me. The story is told as a flashback, and at the end Richard Dreyfuss, now an adult, sits at his desk and slowly types: "I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was 12. Jesus, does anyone?"

     There are a lot of other famous last lines, like Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca, at the airport telling Louis, "I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."

     Or the classics. Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz says, "There's no place like home."

     From King Kong: "Oh no. It wasn't the airplanes. It was beauty killed the beast."

     Scarlett O'Hara in both the movie and the book Gone with the Wind says, "After all, tomorrow is another day."

     Another famous last line of a novel comes from the unforgettable Catcher in the Rye when Holden Caulfield says, "Don't ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody."

     Or how about this one from The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen: "She was seventy five and she was going to make some changes in her life."

     But my favorite last line in a novel is from The Great Gatsby, which I read again last winter. F. Scott Fitzgerald concludes: "So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."


gigi-hawaii said...

When I am dying, I'll say with a grin: "Goodbye, world. Hello, God."

DUTA said...

Lately, a relative of mine died in her sleep. Someone drew my attention to the fact that nowadays, especially since corona, there are more cases like that, so no chance for a last word.

Kay said...

My mother keeps telling me she would like to die in her sleep. It would be a peaceful way but I told her it would give me a heart attack to find her that way. I loved reading all these endings. I remember that last show of Mary Tyler Moore. I remember them all hugging each other and staying that way as they exited the door.

Rian said...

DH and I too have talked about 'dying in your sleep'... seems the way to go except for the person sleeping next to you. As for last words, famous or otherwise, I'd think they should be something like 'I love you... and I loved the life we had... and now on to the next adventure!' or something like that.
(Probably corny, but true). My mom died in her sleep - so no last words. Dad was under heavy medication - so no last words there either.

Anvilcloud said...

I have seen or been nearby when people died, and there were no last word. Well, there probably were, days before, but we didn't know that's what they would be.

River said...

Now I'm wondering what my last words will be. I hope I tell my family that I love them. Or maybe I'll say "if there's a heaven I'll come back and let you know".

Ed said...

One of my favorite last words was from our second president John Adams who apparently said, "Jefferson lives" though his then friend Thomas Jefferson had died just an hour or two earlier.

Olga said...

How interesting to think about last words. Should make us careful about the things we say everyday.

Tabor said...

now you have me thinking about what I could or would say. Of course, do we know when we are going to die?

Mona McGinnis said...

Loved this post. The trouble with the last everything, seldom do you know it's the last time 'til it is. Check out Tenille Townes' song, The Last Time.

Wisewebwoman said...

I also love that line from the Great Gatsby, it says so very much.

Was it Oscar Wilde whose last words were: Somebody do something about that wallpaper? (or similar)


Linda Myers said...

What an interesting post! I'm still thinking about what I might say if I knew those words would be my last.

Anonymous said...

Frankly, my dear. I don't give a damn.

tahoegirl.blog said...

The Great Gatsby is one of my favorite books. Also Fahrenheit 451 . I loved Gone With Wind As a child but recently reread it and although Scarlett helped shaped my adolescence , now I’m not too sure about the racism. Maybe my last thoughts will be “ what a wonderful world “…

Anonymous said...

Am I the only one who thinks this post is a little ominous? ...in case it's a coda... I'd like to express my appreciation for your entertaining, thought provoking blog. I have enjoyed it immensely. Vaya con Dios!