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The Scott Simon Interview (Page 2 of 2)

An Interview with Scott Simon


Gary Barg: I think it is important that we see each other as human beings. That is a job role for family caregivers to take on, to make sure that they are standing in the middle of the situation and treating the professionals, when deserved, with respect and accommodation and showing them who their loved one is as an individual. And if their loved one is not able to communicative themselves, telling stories, which is what you do. So I was very impressed with that aspect of it as well.

Scott Simon: I think you put your finger on something, too. My mother, until about the last 24 hours, was in a position to make jokes, laugh (albeit it became painful for her), and communicate. I think that is not true, obviously, of a lot of people in that position. I wanted the relatively young doctors who were working there to see the whole person, not just the person who was 84, almost 85,  who was totally having trouble and was in her last days on earth. It was important for me that they also saw her as a person; that they got some sense of the funny, lively person who was once their age and who had children and grandchildren, and had a tough and interesting life. I think that is very important in terms of making that palpable human connection between people. And I think it makes all the difference between seeing someone as a patient in a bed and seeing them as a human being. I suspect that is something that one way or another we can all do in our individual lives and disciplines. I mean, I know that absolutely dovetails with something that I try and tell some of our young reporters. Having covered bits and pieces of 10 wars is when you begin to think you have seen it all before. That is a problem because you have not.

Gary Barg: I know your children are very young at this point, but does your experience with your mom inform the conversations you might have with them about end of life issues?

Scott Simon: I think it will. They are very young. They are 10 and six. I think it will as we go on in life more than it does now, if that makes any sense. I mean, they certainly know what happened. They were not able to see my mother in the ICU. We want to try and skate that thin line, if we can, between using what has happened as a necessary lesson in life, but at the same time, not expecting them to absorb everything at once. And I do not mind adding, since I did a book about adoption because our daughters happen to be adopted, sometimes people who are adopted can be particularly sensitive about issues of loss, along with other things. I think we want to use this mostly as a way of reminding ourselves that it all goes very quickly. I mean Grand-mère, as they called her (my wife is French), would have been 85 on August 31. And that is obviously longer than a lot of other people get. But in the end, these things are not comparative. It’s just – whatever you get in this life. It all goes too quickly and still a void is there.

Gary Barg: The void; that is the point. It is a void.

Scott Simon: Yes, it is a void. And we will fill it with stories. And we will fill it with recollections. But at the same time, it is mostly unfillable.

Gary Barg: What would be the one most important piece of information that you would like to share with family caregivers?

Scott Simon:   I would say to remember the person that you are helping through life was young once and had a life different than the one that you are seeing right now. And so, as far as you can, try and get to know and take care of that person, not just the needy one who is in front of you.


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