Last Words - November 2019
by Dawn Phelps, RN/LMSW
George Herbert Walker Bush died about one year ago on November 30, 2018. His last words to his son George W. Bush were “I love you too….” after George called his father to say goodbye to him as his father’s condition worsened. The younger Bush told his dad that he was a wonderful father and “I love you.”
George H.W. Bush, our 41st President of the United States, died on Friday evening, November 30 at his home in Houston, Texas, at the age of 94. Many friends and family were at his bedside. When Mr. Bush’s best friend James Baker arrived at the Bush home on Friday morning, Mr. Bush asked him, “Where are we going, Bake? And his friend answered, “We’re going to heaven.” And Mr. Bush replied, “That’s where I want to go.” By 10:10 that evening Mr. Bush peacefully slipped away to join his beloved wife Barbara and their three-year-old daughter Robin who had died of leukemia in 1953. His wife Barbara had died the previous April. They had been married 73 year, and that evening they would be reunited.
One of the physicians at his bedside said that Mr. Bush knew where he was going and who he wanted to be with again. During the last hours, the physician led those in the room in prayer. He described the former president’s death as graceful and gentle; he described his death as “sweet.” When I read the story, it brought tears to my eyes, and I was impressed with his last words, “I love you too.” Then I became curious about the last words of others who have died, and here are some of the comments.
- Thomas Alva Edison, the inventor, said, “It is very beautiful over there.”
- William Allingham, an Irish poet, said, “I see such things as you cannot imagine.”
- Jean Baptiste Camille, a French artist’s last words were “Look how beautiful it is! I have never seen such admirable landscapes.”
- “Love one another” were the last words of George Harrison.
- Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, Inc., said, “Oh, wow, oh, wow, oh, wow!” I wonder what he was seeing!
- Composer Gustav Mahler died in bed, conducting an imaginary orchestra, and his last word was “Mozart!”
- The writer T.S. Eliot only whispered one word as he died, and that was the name of his wife, “Valerie.”
- As Emily Dickinson, a famous writer, was dying, she said, “I must go in, the fog is rising.”
- Bo Diddly died giving a thumbs-up sign as he listened to the song “Walk around Heaven,” then said one word, “Wow!” I wonder what he saw!
- When the famous John Wayne was dying, he turned to his wife and said, “Of course I know who you are. You’re my girl. I love you.”
Having worked with hospice patients, I believe that many who are dying see those who have gone on and some get a peek into heaven before they die. While my husband Tom and I watched as President Bush was brought back to Washington, D.C., to lie in state in the Capitol rotunda about a year ago, we were both filled with admiration for him as a man, a father, a husband, a grandfather, and a friend to so many. George H.W. Bush lived his life well. He became the 41st President and is admired for his gentleness, kindness, and love for his family. I admire him for his last words, “I love you too.” Don’t forget to tell those around you the same words—“I love you.” You will be glad you did.
Call about the next "Living Life after Loss" Group at:
709 Liberty, Clay Center, Kansas
Dawn Phelps, RN/LMSW, Group Facilitator