faded letters

April 2nd, 2012

If you really want to change, live by someone’s last words. These are with me this week.

Be yourself, and take good care of your family. — Mom

I can’t wait until then. — Dad

It’s very beautiful over there. — Thomas Edison

Oh wow. Oh wow. Oh wow. — Steve Jobs

I am being shown the most amazing things. — Dominique de Menil

This is all an elaborate hoax. — Roger Ebert

Does nobody understand? — James Joyce

It’s all been very interesting. — Lady Montagu

You are wonderful. — Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Don’t make a great commotion over nothing. — Zen master Tozan

Today you will be with me in paradise. — Jesus

Such secrets have been revealed to me that all I have written now appears as so much straw. — Thomas Aquinas

For all eternity, I love you. — President James Polk

Good night my darlings, I’ll see you tomorrow. — Noel Coward


  1. Wow. Extraordinary. I had heard of Steve Jobs’ last lines (and they gave me goosebumps the first time I heard of them) but not the rest of these. Thank you for sharing these!

    Comment by Lindsey — April 3, 2012 @ 2:57 am

  2. I liked Joko Beck’s last words “This too is wonder” but it makes me wonder if some people plan their last words like death poetry.

    Still my personal favorite is my yiayia’s last declaration of “Ice Cream!” Perhaps not inspirational but she was always one to get to the point. And I believe the point was …. ice cream.

    Comment by John Pappas — April 3, 2012 @ 4:19 am

  3. This too, is wonder. – Charlotte Joko Beck

    Comment by Ben — April 3, 2012 @ 4:19 am

  4. Those were not Beck’s last words, but words taken from a “tweet” issued by Joan Halifax on the occasion of Beck’s death. The saying was a quote from Beck’s previous writing circulated in an email to her supporters while Beck was nearing death. Halifax subsequently clarified the misunderstanding. It is interesting to note that what lasts is not always the last. Those who quote can fashion a quote but those who die just die.


    Comment by Karen Maezen Miller — April 3, 2012 @ 6:14 am

  5. Mom just passed away three weeks ago, and her last coherent words to me were “I don’t know what they’ve told you, but I’m not going anywhere.”

    Comment by Deirdre — April 3, 2012 @ 9:24 am

  6. “Twice back at you” in return for the “I love you” spoken to my Grandfather.

    An incredible blessing: Twice back at you.

    Comment by MJ — April 3, 2012 @ 12:12 pm

  7. Perfect. Thank you.

    Comment by Nichole — April 4, 2012 @ 7:30 am

  8. Just perfect.

    Comment by Swirly — April 4, 2012 @ 7:27 pm

  9. Towards the end of his life my father,already living within the fog of Alzheimer’s Disease, had a close call in the form of a cardiac arrest. Recovered and back in the nursing home my mother visited him for what was to be her last time with him. He was agitated, and kept saying “I don’t want to miss the bus next time.” His words to her as she left, with great clarity and a hand squeeze: “I’m glad I found you.” The next day he died of a massive coronary.

    Comment by Connie — April 5, 2012 @ 7:11 am

  10. I noticed that very few of the last words sounded final. Those who spoke them all sounded alert and present. Some of them seemed to be glimpsing something they hadn’t seen before, something beyond my everyday awareness. I wonder if the thing they glimpsed “beyond” is actually here and now. I can’t know for sure, but sometimes I thought I’ve glimpsed it, too. When I was quiet enough or present enough, or not arguing about how life ought to be, I think I might have seen how life actually is. These words inspire me with the possibility that they aren’t last words, but the first expressions of something that has always been.

    Comment by Dawn — April 8, 2012 @ 3:00 pm

  11. Maybe so, maybe so. For that you have to know the last word of Zen!

    Comment by Karen Maezen Miller — April 8, 2012 @ 3:19 pm

  12. Oh my gosh. You leave me with a koan! And now I’m going to do what I do with koans, figure out with my mind how to not figure it out with my mind! Thank you, it’s perfect.

    Comment by Dawn — April 9, 2012 @ 3:30 pm

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