Pine Nuts: Making the most of your last words |

Pine Nuts: Making the most of your last words

Having just matched Mark Twain’s longevity last week, I was prompted to ponder what my last words might be. His, according to one source, were to his daughter Clara, “If we meet …” Thus leaving the door open to a life hereafter. Earlier on, addressing that very subject, he penned, “I have never seen what to me seemed an atom of proof that there is a future life. And yet I am strongly inclined to expect one.”

In mining memorable last words, I found General John Sedgwick’s to be most lamentable: “They couldn’t hit an elephant at this distance.”

For sheer pluck, there is Oscar Wilde: “My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One of us has got to go.”

And when it comes pure cheek, I don’t imagine anybody can top King George’s response to his doctor’s news that he would soon be well and able to visit Bognor Regis: “Bugger Bognor!”

For sarcasm we can call on drummer Buddy Rich, who was asked by his nurse while being wheeled in for surgery, “Is there anything you can’t take?”

“Yeah, country music.” (Snare drum & cymbals please.)

In one of his movies, W. C. Fields was asked before being hung by the neck, “Any last words?”

“Yes, I’d like to see Paris before I die … Philadelphia will do.”

But my all-time best-loved last-line has to be Todd Beamer to anyone who would join him in counter-attacking the hijackers of flight 93 on 9/11: “Let’s roll!”

So, assuming I’m not offered an opportunity to be a hero like Todd, but am on my death bed, surrounded by family, and confident my next few words will be my last, what might they be? In no particular order, here are some possibilities that come to mind…

“Did you check the ‘Use By’ date on this milk?”

“Pete Rose should go into the Hall …”

“Looks like I might get out of this life without ever having attended a meeting …”

“I know you are all here for a reason, but I can’t remember what it is …”

Well, having a moment to reflect, not one of those possibilities rings true. On further consideration I’d like the verb to be “love,” and I’d like the object of that verb to be all encompassing — family, friends, dogs, Mother Earth, the sun, the moon and the stars above. But in case I can’t pull all of that together perhaps I should keep it simple with something like, “When a man starts downhill everything is greased for the occasion.” Or, “My life right now is six to five against.” Or, “I hope God will let me go to dog heaven.” Or, perhaps most fittingly, “What a thrice double ass was I.”

Truth be told, I will most likely make a botch of it and say something really stupid, like: “Please don’t call me a genius in my obituary; a genius is someone like Alvin Einstein.”

Oh, well …

Learn more about McAvoy Layne at

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