– Last words spoken by Steve Jobs as reported by his sister, Mona Simpson

What an incredible story – and what timing – a few days before Christmas. Peggy Noonan describes these words as “the best thing said in 2011.” Here’s the story:

Wall Street Journal: Oh Wow! Some Highlights of 2011

By Peggy Noonan

The great words of the year? “Oh wow. Oh wow. Oh wow.”

They are the last words of Steve Jobs, reported by his sister, the novelist Mona Simpson, who was at his bedside. In her eulogy, a version of which was published in the New York Times, she spoke of how he looked at his children “as if he couldn’t unlock his gaze.” He’d said goodbye to her, told her of his sorrow that they wouldn’t be able to be old together, “that he was going to a better place.” In his final hours his breathing was deep, uneven, as if he were climbing.

“Before embarking, he’d looked at his sister Patty, then for a long time at his children, then at his life’s partner, Laurene, and then over their shoulders past them. Steve’s final words were: ‘OH WOW. OH WOW. OH WOW.'”

The caps are Simpson’s, and if she meant to impart a sense of wonder and mystery she succeeded. “Oh wow” is not a bad way to express the bigness, power and force of life, and death. And of love, by which he was literally surrounded.

I wondered too, after reading the eulogy, if I was right to infer that Jobs saw something, and if so, what did he see? What happened there that he looked away from his family and expressed what sounds like awe? I thought of a story told by a friend, whose grown son had died, at home, in a hospice. The family was ringed around his bed. As Robert breathed his last an infant in the room let out a great baby laugh as if he saw something joyous, wonderful, and gestured toward the area above Robert’s head. The infant’s mother, startled, moved to shush him but my friend, her mother, said no, maybe he’s just reacting to . . . something only babies see.

Anyway I sent Ms. Simpson’s eulogy to a number of people and spoke to some of them, and they all had two things in common in terms of their reaction. They’d get a faraway look, and think. And if they had a thought to share they did it with modesty. No one said, “I think I can guess what he saw,” “I know who he saw,” or “Believe me, if he saw anything it was the product of the last, disordered sparks of misfiring neurons.”

They were always modest, reflective. One just said, “Wow.”

Modesty when contemplating death is a good thing.

When words leave people silent and thinking they are powerful words. Steve Jobs’ last words were the best thing said in 2011.

Source: Wall Street Journal – Peggy Noonan: Some Highlights of 2011


  1. John Wayland says:

    Just beautiful Dave. Reading this gave me goosebumps and made me smile. Thank you for sharing. Merry Christmas.


  2. Awesome article all the best.


  3. Brilliant post, I really liked that. Nice work.


  4. Dave,

    Thanks for liking my post.
    As far as the posted article I had read it before. That was the first time I had heard of someone so close to speaking in such awe.
    Makes you want to do research on death and maybe dying is an “awesome” event.



  5. hm, thank you for sharing this – for some reason, i completely missed it. read the book though – very enjoyable!


  6. Makes me better appreciate the “mystery” !


  7. We are surrounded by mystery. Too bad most of us need to die to get the Oh Wow experience.


  8. What a wondrous and amazing life we have… thank you so much for sharing!


  9. Hi David, This is fab – love it – and found you through your great likes and joining my little blog – thank you!
    Hope to read more from you!
    Blessings, Shawna


  10. Thats good…. I did not know Steve’s last words but they are profound… and they do make me think.


  11. I am wondering if it was just a publicity stunt by Mr. Jobs. I hope not. After all, he knew it would get people talking. I would like to take the positive approach, and hope he really saw something fantastic. Wouldn’t it be nice.


    • At first the idea that Steve Jobs said Oh Wow, Oh Wow, Oh Wow for publicity struck me as ridiculous. But Apple is a big part of his legacy — so I suppose its possible he was giving his legend and the legend of Apple a final boost is not so far fetched. But I prefer to think that he glimpsed something extraordinary and beautiful as he was dying. But either way he lived life fully right up until the end. And maybe beyond.


  12. Thought provoking..heartfelt. I was with my father as he was dying. I really don’t think in those last few moments it was a publicity stunt.


  13. This was so inspirational. Thank you for sharing. I would like to repost the story on my blog. I am sure the entrepreneurial students in Blue Mound Kansas will want this as a quote of the day.


  14. Thanks for stopping by my place and I am glad you liked my post. This post was very inspirational and thought-provoking….


  15. Great piece! Thanks for posting it. Personally I believe Mr. Jobs saw something extraordinary. I say that because my husband’s mother, who was comatose at the end of her life, opened her eyes, sat up in her bed and reached out her arms as if to embrace someone. She laid back down and was gone. My husband was there and said it was the most peaceful she has ever been.


  16. Glad you liked my recent blog post. Thanks for visiting my blog.
    I remember Oh wow… being the topic of discussion for days after Steve’s passing. Thanks for keeping that alive.


  17. Hi David,
    Thank you firstly, for passig this post on. I love hearing these stories of crossing over, when they are in a gentle environment that is. Secondly, thank you for liking my post. I came across an old Dictionary of Thoughts and there are some wise sages who contributed to it. I have found inspiration, comedy and more in it.


  18. thank you for visiting my blog..
    regarding this post, I remember when a loved one was on his last day. in the afternoon he began looking up to the ceiling and pointing.. I couldn’t see anything but I am sure that he did as he died later on that evening.


  19. Reblogged this on Todd's Perspective and commented:
    I’m not a huge Steve Jobs fan — long story — but this article is an excellent find from one of my favorite writers…


  20. The only thing that came to mind was an additional word: Whee as in “Wow Whee!”


  21. LaDona's Music Studio says:

    I remember this. It was the post that made me come back to your blog. Thank you Tumblr for the reminder!


  22. Oh. Wow. Thank you for this David–it has confirmed some things for me!


  23. Reblogged this on On the Homefront and commented:
    I liked this and thought I would share. David Kanigan finds the best things…..


  24. When I read this, I felt a tingling on my scalp and that wonderful “connected” feeling that I get when Spirit Guides, departed loved ones, and God are definitely present. It’s a deep and profound knowing that there is much more to us, and this life, than we experience in this moment. It is indeed impossible to put into words. Oh wow, indeed. Thanks for posting this, I needed the reminder that this life is transitory and that we are all swimming towards an exquisite afterlife.


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