by Dave Williams
Have you ever stopped to think about what you want your final words to be? Neither have I but I’m thinking about it now.
I was surprised to learn this morning that Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York currently running for president, was apparently the final thought that crossed Kirk Douglas’ mind before he died last week at the age of 103.
According to this morning’s New York Post, Kirk’s son, actor Michael Douglas, told Bloomberg supporters, “I don’t know if he was pulling my leg or not but one of the last (things) that he said in the hospital when he saw me, he asked me to lean over close to him and I leaned over close to him and he said, ‘Mike can get it done’.
The Bloomberg volunteers went wild.
Excuse my skepticism but really? The man’s final thought was about presidential politics? He’s 103, on his death bed, and his lasting legacy statement was a campaign endorsement?
If I was his son, and let’s be frank here, Michael Douglas is 75 and he could follow his father into the Hollywood Forever Cemetery any minute now, I would be devastated.
Why didn’t he tell me how wonderful I am in movies?
Why didn’t he say he just say he loved me?
I’m thinking it was a misunderstanding. It’s more likely that Kirk Douglas, in his weakened condition, thought someone had asked him who should deliver his eulogy and he gave the obvious answer, his famous son, Michael.
“Mike can get it done.”
Or maybe that’s not at all what he said. I interviewed Kirk Douglas a few years after his stroke. He was very kind and gracious but his speech was severely affected and he was hard to understand.
He may have just said, “I’d like a cookie, please.”
Anyway, this got me thinking about my final words. If I could plan ahead to say something memorable, something adorable, pithy, brief and quotable on my death bed, what would it be?
You know me. I’d want to do something funny like bolt upright in wide-eyed amazement and say something that seemed to come to me in a blinding flash of revelation: “Death! Yes but no! There is no death! I get it now, the true meaning of life is…………..!”
And then I’d plop back into my pillow, eyes closed, never to open again.
The reality is I’d probably just tell whoever was near me how much I love my family, how I’ve lived a life filled with love and laughter. I’d just say I’m happy.
That would be nice.
You know what would really be a pisser, though?
What if you thought of exactly the right words and practiced until you were able to express them with the skill of a classical Shakespearean actor, the perfect words uttered in perfect understated sincerity (I’d try to channel Peter O’Toole). Then you smile wistfully, a blessed child about to return home; a small tear would trickle down one cheek.
Your family would sigh and sniff; a muffled sob, hugs all around.
They’d take turns squeezing your hand and kissing your forehead.
Then twenty minutes later you wake up and realize, “Shit. Now I have to think of something else to say.”
© 2020, Dave Williams