Archive for Last Words

Is Your Purse Empty?

two handsThe patient was about to die.

The hospice nurse said it would be soon.

The social worker, though not a medical expert, had visited dying patients on many occasions and agreed with the nurse’s assessment.

The adult children who’d traveled back home and the patient’s sleep-deprived husband were sad, but understood. The family didn’t—like some do—fight about their wife and mother making one more trip to the clinic for one more treatment to battle the illness. They didn’t argue about “forcing” her to eat and drink more. The hospice team caring for this beloved wife and mother had become an important part of the family’s exhausted, already grieving lives. When these professionals said there might be her final hours, there was no reason to doubt or debate.


And then she woke up. The patient, who hadn’t spoken for days and hadn’t eaten for even longer, made a request that didn’t surprise any of her hovering, hurting family.

“Bring my purse,” she said. Read More →

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Last . . . Words

It was easy to find famous last words on the Internet.

Some were unaware how close death was . . . No, you certainly can’t. (John F. Kennedy’s reply to Nellie Connally, Governor John Connally’s wife. She’d said, “You certainly can’t say that the people of Dallas haven’t given you a nice welcome, Mr. President.”)

Some were funny, a tad hard to believe . . . Hey, fellas! How about this for a headline for tomorrow’s paper? ‘French Fries’! (James French, a convicted murderer, sentenced to the electric chair in 1966. He shouted these words to members of the press who were to witness his execution.)

Some were enigmatic and evocative . . . The fog is rising. (From Emily Dickinson)

Some were simple . . . Beautiful. (From Elizabeth Barrett Browning, when asked by her husband how she felt.)

Some of the "last words" on the whiteboard in Mom's hospital room...

Some of the “last words” on the whiteboard in Mom’s hospital room…

What will your lights-out phrase be? I fear mine will be a banal, vile four-letter word. I’ve tumbled down mountains on backpacks. I’ve crashed onto asphalt while pedaling my bike. Those missteps—and more—were potentially fatal and caused me to shout an ancient Proto-German word beginning with “S.” To be honest, I wouldn’t mind a final yelp and curse if that meant I’d died quickly while enjoying a favorite activity. Read More →

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