I've been reading a novel this week whose main character is fascinated with the last words of great people in history. As a southern boy myself, I've always loved the mythical last words of the legendary southern redneck: "Hey! Watch this!"
Or: "Look where I am! No, up here!"
Or: "It ain't dangerous at all."
Or: "Yeah, you can eat it. Watch me."
Or: "No. It's not loaded. I promise."
Or: "You just gotta hold it right. And, it's not that poisonous."
But most of those statements, I think, are normally followed by a profanity of some sort.
And they wonder why the southern redneck is a dying breed.
Last words can be instructive. One enlightenment philosopher, eating far too much at dinner, was told by his wife that he should not take another bite. Picking up an apricot and waving it in her face, he said, "What harm could this possibly do?" Then he popped it into his mouth, ate it, and dropped dead at the table.
My grandfather's last words were, "It's beautiful."
Thomas Edison was hardly more specific: "It's beautiful over there."
Steve Jobs' last words, reported by his sister, were "Wow," repeated several times.
But maybe my favorite last words were those of a famous nineteenth century American minister, Henry Ward Beecher, who said, simply, "Now comes the mystery."