I've been thinking about Steve Jobs' last words "Oh Wow, Oh Wow, Oh Wow". What was he saying, was he saying anything? Maybe he was misheard. In fact he was saying "Oh No, Oh No, Oh No" or "I Don't Want to Go..." Whatever he said it has really got people bemused.
The religious might interpret his last words as joy on glimpsing the celestial city from a high mountain. Looking down on a valley flowing with milk and honey, the angels with their i(amtheoneGod)Pods. Alternatively, he might have glimpsed the next killer app and was completely blown away. Which in a sense he was.
The unconvinced would argue that the sounds had no meaning, just the last breath being ejected in a final spasm and accidentally tuning his vocal chords to reproduced an "intelligent" noise. It makes you wonder whether Christopher Hitchens had something meaningful to say with his dying breath.
Last words have fascinated people for ages. There's something quite bizarre about a dying person saying something profound or witty as they "pass over/on/across". Is their last thought "Bloody hell that was damn good, shame I won't be able to use it again." Or "Bugger, that would have been ideal in my last book."
Some last words are life affirming, capping off a life that's been full, joyous and admiring. Others leave this place in the same manner they occupied it. Mean last words ending a mean, poor life.
Here are a few bon (mort) mots:
I am about to -- or I am going to -- die: either expression is correct.
~~ Dominique Bouhours, French grammarian, d. 1702
I should never have switched from Scotch to Martinis.
~~ Humphrey Bogart, actor, d. January 14, 1957
Die? I should say not, dear fellow. No Barrymore would allow such a conventional thing to happen to him.
~~ John Barrymore, actor, d. May 29, 1942
Goodnight my darlings, I'll see you tomorrow.
~~ Noel Coward, writer, d. 1973
Damn it . . . Don't you dare ask God to help me.
To her housekeeper, who had begun to pray aloud.
~~ Joan Crawford, actress, d. May 10, 1977
All my possessions for a moment of time.
~~ Elizabeth I, Queen of England, d. 1603
Well, gentlemen, you are about to see a baked Appel.
~~ George Appel, executed by electric chair in 1928.
I've never felt better.
~~ Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., actor, d. December 12, 1939
I'd hate to die twice. It's so boring.
~~ Richard Feynman, physicist, d. 1988
I knew it. I knew it. Born in a hotel room - and God damn it - died in a hotel room.
~~ Eugene O'Neill, writer, d. November 27, 1953
They couldn't hit an elephant at this dist. . . .
Killed in battle during US Civil War.~~ General John Sedgwick, Union Commander, d. 1864
Woe is me. Me thinks I'm turning into a god.
~~ Vespasian, Roman Emperor, d. 79 AD
I have a sneaking admiration for this:
If any of you have a message for the Devil, give it to me, for I am about to meet him!
~~Lavinia Fisher, hanged for murder on February 18, 1820, while wearing her white wedding dress gown
and of course....
Either that wallpaper goes, or I do.
~~ Oscar Wilde, writer, d. November 30, 1900
A final thought. Was Steve Jobs breathlessly singing the opening line of "Do You Know the Way to San Jose"?