A person’s last words before they die can seem important. People will gather around the bedside hoping to hear the last few words that may tell them what the dying person feels is most important.
Peter Abelard (top left) was a famous thinker who died on April 21, 1142. He was described as the best thinker of the twelfth century. What grand pronouncement did he make on his deathbed? Just three words: “I don’t know.” It sounds like Abelard was still trying to figure out what’s important.
What was important to Phineas Taylor Barnum (left, second from top)? While he did many things, he is best remembered for his traveling circus. He made his money by tricking people into seeing things that weren’t really true. For example, in 1835 he bought an old slave woman advertising that she was the 161-year-old nurse of George Washington. And people believed him! As an additional attraction, he added the preserved body of the Feejee Mermaid, that really was the top half of a monkey sewn to the tail of a fish. P. T. Barnum died on April 7, 1891. Here are his last words: “How were the circus receipts in Madison Square Gardens?” It seems his interests were about how much money he was making.
At the time of his death, William H. Vanderbilt (third from the top) was the richest man in the world. His fortune was estimated to be about $200 million. His last words on December 8, 1885, were: “I have had no real enjoyment of any sort more than my neighbor on the next block who is worth only half a million.” Even though he had all that money could by it didn’t bring him happiness.
We also know the last words of Ellen White (bottom left). As her family and friends gathered around her bedside, her last words to her son were: “I know in Whom I have believed.” When others like Abelard, Barnum, and Vanderbilt were thinking about the problems of life or money, Mrs. White was thinking of Jesus.
Before she got sick for the last time, Mrs. White went to a school to visit some students. She delivered a short message to them. Here’s part of what she said: “If you will be earnest in serving God, you will be a help to all [your friends.] There is nothing to be ashamed of in being a Christian. It is an honor to follow the Savior” (Sermons and Talks, vol. 2, p. 334).
This is the last page I am going to write for KidsView. I am retiring. This means I’m going to get to stay home for a while and bake carob brownies and play with my grandsons! While I am looking foward to this, I also want to be sure to leave my readers with a few important written “last words”: “Stay faithful to Jesus! And by His grace, I’ll meet you in heaven!”
We are grateful to Cindy Tutsch for her contributions to KidsView the past five years. We'll miss you greatly! Don't be a stranger, and feel free to share those brownies with us if you'd like to visit sometime!--Wilona, Merle, and Kim
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