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[whitespace] Famous Last Words

Few of us know when we are about to breathe--or write--our last, as these diary extracts attest

By Sarah Phelan

    Isabella this morning taught me some Franch words, one of which is 'bon suar.' The interpretation is 'good morning.'

    --Marjory Fleming, Scotland, 1810

Shortly thereafter, Fleming fell ill of measles, then died of a more severe illness, not yet 9 years old.

    And now with some pleasure I find that it's seven; and must cook dinner. Haddock and sausage meat. I think it's true that one gains a certain hold on sausage and haddock by writing them down.

    --Virginia Woolf, March 8, 1941

With these words the diary of Virginia Woolf ends, though she left a suicide note for her husband. Her body was found floating in the "wild grey water" near her home.

    It seems a pity, but I don't think I can write more. Last entry. For God's sake, look after our people.

    --Captain Robert Scott, March 29, 1912

Scott was found frozen in a tent, only a few miles from his base camp on his return trip from the South Pole. Three diaries were tucked under his arm.

    I can feel the sufferings of millions and yet, if I look up into the heavens, I think that it will all come right, that this cruelty too will end.

    --Anne Frank, July 15, 1944

A few days later, Frank and the other occupants of the secret annex were taken away by the Nazis. Frank died in the concentration camp at Bergen-Belsen, in March 1945, three months before her 16th birthday, two months before the liberation of Holland.

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From the June 12-19, 2002 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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