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The Scott Simon Interview (Page 1 of 2)

An Interview with Scott Simon
Photo credit: Will O’Leary/NPR

Jaime Estremera FitzgeraldPeabody Award winner Scott Simon is the host of National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition Saturday. He has reported stories from all 50 states and every continent, covered 10 wars from El Salvador to Iraq, and has won every major award in broadcasting. He is the author of Baby, We Were Meant for Each Other: In Praise of Adoption, Home and Away: Memoir of a Fan, Jackie Robinson and the Integration of Baseball, and the novels Pretty Birds and Windy City: A Novel of Politics. He lives with his wife, Caroline, and their daughters, Elise and Lina. Scott recently made news for tweeting from his mother’s hospital room during her last days.

Editor-in-Chief Gary Barg sat down to talk with Scott about his heartfelt 140-character word vignettes which shone a light on the love, grief and even humorous moments shared by Scott and his mom during their last important few days together.

Gary Barg: You made some news recently when you tweeted from your mom’s hospital bedside for the week before she passed last month. And I have to tell you, one thing I really appreciated as a family caregiver about your tweets was that they introduced me to your mom, Patricia Lyons Simon Newman Gilband.

Scott Simon: Somebody referred to that as a railroad car. She had three husbands.

Gary Barg: She is funny, loving, talented, fun. I honestly wish I could have known her. I always think that introducing our loved ones to their care professionals as more than a patient in ICU bed 207 is really important for all involved—for the professionals, for you, for your loved one, for the humanity of the situation. So, I am wondering what was the spectrum of responses that you received since your tweets last month.

Scott Simon: The messages I have gotten have been overwhelmingly positive. I also know at the same time there has been a little bit of criticism; but really I think it has got to be less than one percent. And I am not sure there is much I could say to those folks in any case. I think a lot of them seem to feel that it is inappropriate to share any kind of deep human emotion. If that is the way they want to live their lives, that is fine. I think what has been very nice is for me to hear from people who say something like, “I held my mother’s hand tonight because of something you wrote.” Or “I made time to see my mother today” or “I called my mother today because of something you wrote.” And, I guess I am prepared to say that if my mother’s life and the story of her death could contribute to that, I think that is a wonderful thing to have been able to put into this life.

Gary Barg: How do you see family caregivers using tweets—social media—going forward? Are you hearing from family caregivers about your situation and your tweets in particular?

Scott Simon: I am just beginning to go through a lot of stuff. And it does strike me that I have heard from a lot of people who identified themselves as family caregivers and emergency room technicians and ICU nurses and registered nurses and other people who in fact say that they are very glad that we opened this up as an avenue for discussion. As you will appreciate, Gary, that just was not why I did it or what was on my mind at that particular time.

Gary Barg: Talking about the reactions you got from your tweets and the people who wonder about motivation, I think there are two things. One, in a recent interview, you said that having a loved one in the hospital has moments of panic and anxiety, separated by hours of tedium. Absolutely. And two, I think that any family caregiver understands that there is so much humor in caregiving and your tweets really express that.

Scott Simon: I think in another tweet I said that people in my profession, so-called profession, journalists, tell ourselves that we are hard and cynical because of all we see in life. And ICU nurses and other personnel there see, as a generalization, more in a month than we will see in 10 years. And they just come out better, kinder, stronger, and more humorous because of it. I am just in awe of them.

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