Goodbye, Farewell by Kate Jonez

October is the month when the barrier between this world and the next is thinner than any other time of the year. Thoughts naturally turn to those who have passed on. Throughout history, quick wits and deep thinkers have come up with last words to keep their memory alive. To thoroughly twist the words of T.S. Eliot, perhaps it is better to go out with a bang than a whimper.

Philosopher Voltaire’s famous last words were pragmatic. When asked by a priest to renounce Satan, he is said to have replied: “Now, now, my good man, this is no time for making enemies.”

And speaking of pragmatism, Pablo Picasso’s last words were also considerate of his mourners: “Drink to me!”

Joan Crawford, when faced with a housekeeper praying at her bedside, wasn’t quite as gracious: “Dammit! Don’t you dare ask God to help me.” Bette Davis hearing of Crawford’s passing had an interesting response: “My mother told me never to speak badly of the dead. ¬†She’s dead…good.”

Author Oscar Wilde is reported to have said: “My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One or the other of us has to go.” Grouch Marx’s farewell was also a wry, smile-inducing one-liner: “Die, my dear? Why, that’s the last thing I’ll do.”

Perhaps one of the strangest sign-offs goes to newsperson Christine Chubbock. She gamely said: “In keeping with Channel 40’s policy of bringing you the latest in blood and guts and in living color, you are going to see another first — attempted suicide.” She then proceeded to shoot herself in the head.

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