Afore ye go

Charles 4 Comments

If we live long enough, our dying will be punctuated by lasts which we may even be able to mark off, one by one — last time in the garden; last time I’ll see so-and-so. Even if we don’t mark off our lasts, our nearest and dearest probably will, retrospectively.

Our most memorable last ought to be our last words. There’s almost an expectation on us that we will say something memorable, just like they do in the movies. Do you ever rehearse your last words? Even if you do, you know you’ll probably disappoint. Timing is all. How will you be certain that this is the moment to let them go?

No, this is a luxury reserved for very few. Suicides get to choose their last words. So do those about to be executed. There’s pressure here. People hope you’ll utter something very special , and that’s not an easy thing to do if there are executioners in the offing. As to suicides, I wonder how many never went through with the deed because they couldn’t get the wording right first?

Here are some last words by US prisoners in Texas. There’s a website full of them, address at the end.

‘Yes, first I want to tell the victim’s family, Wendy’s family, I am sorry for taking something so precious to you and to my kids. I wish I could take it all back and change it, but I know I can’t. I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me. Please tell Robert and Eric, I love them. I hope they forgive me.

‘To my family, thanks for being beside me, Sabrina, you are a wonderful daughter, I am proud of you. Jr., John, you turned out to be a great young man. Hector, you too. Amy, thank you for always being there. Tell your family I love them. To my family, I appreciate you always standing by me and everything ya’ll have done. Tell, everyone I love them. I’ll be OK. You will too. Remember what asked you. Give my love to the grandchildren. Tell Jake and Mia, Papa Alba loves them. Okay Warden, let’s do it, I love yall. I can taste it already. I am starting to go.’ John Alba

‘Uh, I don’t know, Um, I don’t know what to say.  I don’t know.  (pauses)  I didn’t know anybody was there.  Howdy.’ James Clark

Profanity directed toward staff. Joseph Nichols

‘Yes sir, to my family and children, I love you very much.  Dianne, Virginia, Toby and Irene I love all of you.  I apologize for not being the man you wanted me to be.  I am going to be free, I am going to Heaven.  Please be strong and I love you all.

‘To the Wright family, I pray for you, please find peace in your heart.  I know you may hate me for whatever reason, the Lord says hate no one.  I hope you find peace in your heart.  I know my words cannot help you, I truly mean what I say.  God Bless you all.  I love you Dianne, Mary Virginia.

‘Kick the tires and light the fire, I am going home to see my son and my mom, I love you and God Bless you.’ Richard Hinojosa

‘Only the sky and the green grass goes on forever and today is a good day to die.’ David Martinez

‘Yes sir, Warden Okay I’ve been hanging around this popsicle stand way too long.  Before I leave, I want to tell you all.  When I die, bury me deep, lay two speakers at my feet, put some headphones on my head and rock and roll me when I’m dead.  I’ll see you in Heaven someday.  That’s all Warden.’ Douglas Roberts

‘I did have [any last words], but now I see my family here and everything – all I want to say is I love you all so much. I am innocent. I love you all so much. You are beautiful. Okay Warden, I am through.’ Richard Duncan

‘I’m ready to be released. Release me.’  Kenneth McDuff

‘Let’s do it, man. Lock and load. Ain’t life a [expletive deleted]?’  GW Green

‘I’m going to a beautiful place. O.K., Warden, roll ‘em. ‘ Ignacio Cuevas

Find the Texas Department of Criminal Justice here. More about death by lethal injection here.

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Comfort Blanket
Comfort Blanket
12 years ago

Fascinating… Thanks Charles. I have to say I’ve never considered what my last words would be. I just hope there is someone there to say something to! Here’s a fascinating book, along the same lines as your post, which came out last year:

Charles Cowling
12 years ago

Great link. Thanks, CB!

12 years ago

‘They’re building the gallows outside my cell, I’ve got 25 minutes to go; and in 25 minutes, I’ll be in hell – I got 24 minutes to go. Well they’re getting some beans for my last meal, 23 minutes to go, and you know nobody asks me how I feel I got 22 minutes to go. So I wrote to the governor, the whole damn bunch and I had 21 minutes to go, and I called up the Man and he’s out to lunch I got 20 more minutes to go. Well the sheriff says “Boy, I wanna watch you… Read more »

Charles Cowling
12 years ago

Jonathan, thank you for this. A breezy and touching little ballad.