Ironic Last Words From 5 People Sure They Weren’t Dying
Maybe your last words will be badass. Maybe they’ll be defiant. Maybe they’ll be depressing. It’s also possible for them to be all three. Just take after the following examples, and make sure the last thing you ever say is some variation of this line: “I am definitely not going to die.”
‘Good. A Woman Who Can Fart Is Not Dead’
In the 1600s, in the French commune of Moret-sur-Loing, there lived a nun named Louise Marie-Thérèse. People called her The Black Nun of Moret of The Moret Mooress. She told people that she was secretly the daughter of the Queen, Maria Theresa of Spain. That makes her sound like a crazy person, some nun just raving away in her abbey, but people believed her. She had a lifetime pension from the palace, and was occasionally visited by a son of Maria Theresa, for reasons no one could otherwise explain.
Louise died in 1730. She spent the last two days bedridden, and in her final moments, she farted loudly. “Good,” she said, as she turned over. “A woman who can fart is not dead.” It’s also true that a woman who can speak is not dead, but she may well be about to die, and Sister Lousie died right after saying this.
‘I Am So Healthy, I Expect to Live On and On’
via Wiki Commons
Jerome Irving Rodale was an advocate for organic farming, and for quackery in general. He built a publishing business on the basis that organic food is healthier. Really, organic food is costlier and less efficient, but Rodale believed that health comes from purity. For this same reason, he criticized vaccines and favored folk cures over modern medicine. He also wrote a book titled Happy People Rarely Get Cancer, and the less we say about that book, the better.
You might think it would be ironic if the author of such a book went on to get cancer, but Rodale died more suddenly than that and while in the spotlight. On June 8, 1971, he went on The Dick Cavett Show. As one of his quack remedies, he brought with him some asparagus boiled in urine. “I’m in such good health, that I fell down a long flight of stairs yesterday and I laughed all the way,” said Rodale. “I’ve decided to live to be a hundred.” Shortly after, he said, “I am so healthy, I expect to live on and on.”
When the next guest popped up, Rodale remained on stage, sitting on the couch. Then he let out a snort and died, as the cameras rolled. They never aired that episode. Talk shows like this are never broadcast live, on the off-chance that a health expert keels over or a clown shoots the host in the face.
‘Everything Will Be Okay’
via Wiki Commons
When Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1968, an unlikely person held himself responsible: Juan Romero, the busboy in the above photo. The two were shaking hands at the exact second the bullet hit. “If I wouldn’t have extended my hand, he wouldn’t have gotten shot,” Romero would later say.
That might be true, and it also might not be true. If Kennedy were a standing in a slightly different position, the assassin still would have aimed at him. Either way, there’s often a big difference between causation and moral responsibility, and if we held ourselves accountable for all the infinite consequences of our actions, we’d all go mad.
Along with the burden/honor of placing a rosary in Kennedy’s hand as he died, Romero had the burden/honor of hearing the senator’s last words. “Everything’s going to be okay,” RFK said. If he was referring to his own prognosis, he was wrong, and if he was referring to other possible victims, he wasn’t so right either — a handful of other people got hit as well. Perhaps he was instead referring to the wider struggle. He meant everything would be okay because he had an heir, and RFK Jr. would save us all.
‘They Couldn’t Hit an Elephant at That Distance’
Some say soldiers should be fearless. That’s nonsense. If you’re truly fearless, you are mentally incompetent and should not be allowed to enlist. No, a soldier should feel fear, and should be brave enough to fight anyway, but also should use that fear as a guide on how to stay alive. A soldier who has no fear may quickly die, which doesn’t make them as useful as they might have been.
During the Civil War, at the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House, many soldiers on the Union side were wary of the Confederate sharpshooters a thousand yards away. Bullets kept hitting the ground nearby, and bullets sting. Major General John Sedgwick showed no fear. “What?” he said. “Men dodging this way for single bullets? What will you do when they open fire along the whole line?” Then, after a little bit, he said, “Why are you dodging like this? They couldn't hit an elephant at that distance.” Then, just as his chief of staff was telling him, “General, they’re firing explosive bullets,” one of those bullets hit Sedgwick under his left eye. Sedgwick is tied as the highest-ranking officer to die during the Civil War.
He was still technically right, as the Confederates hit no elephants. The King of Siam had offered to send elephants, but the president turned down the offer.
‘No, No, Joe Won’t Die’
via Wiki Commons
Speaking of restrictions on the mentally incompetent, let’s mention the Supreme Court case Atkins v. Virginia. The court ruled for the first time that it’s unconstitutional to execute someone with an intellectual disability. That case was in 2002, within the memory of many people reading this, and the standard did not exist in, say, 1939. That was why Colorado was able to execute Joe Arridy, graduate of the State Home and Training School for Mental Defectives.
Arridy’s mental capacity was one reason they shouldn’t have executed him. The other was that he was innocent. He was suspected of being the man who’d raped and murdered a girl, but a different man who worked at the girl’s home confessed, was convicted and was executed while Arridy remained on death row. At Arridy’s trial, doctors said he had an IQ of 46, the mind of a six-year-old. In 2011, the governor of Colorado pardoned him posthumously, saying he’d only been convicted thanks to “a false and coerced confession.”
People called Arridy “the happiest man on death row” because he didn’t understand he was going to die. The warden gifted him a toy train for Christmas, and when another inmate asked for it as he left his cell, Joe said, “No, I take my train with me.” Then he relented and gave up the train, but he still told the warden, “No, no. Joe won’t die” when the man tried to explain what would happen to him. When they bound him in the chair in the gas chamber, Joe smiled.
When death comes, maybe we should all hope to be so blissfully ignorant.