The man who tweeted updates of the last days of his mother’s life


US – In July 2013, some 1.2 million Twitter users followed a remarkable series of tweets from NPR’s Scott Simon. He was sending updates from the hospital room where his mother was living the last days of her life.

Some of Scott Simon’s Tweets:

I am getting a life’s lesson about grace from my mother in the ICU. We never stop learning from our mothers, do we?— Scott Simon (@nprscottsimon) July 25, 2013

I don’t know how we’ll get through these next few days. And, I don’t want them to end.— Scott Simon (@nprscottsimon) July 28, 2013

I just realized: she once had to let me go into the big wide world. Now I have to let her go the same way.— Scott Simon (@nprscottsimon) July 28, 2013

I know end might be near as this is only day of my adulthood I’ve seen my mother and she hasn’t asked, “Why that shirt?”— Scott Simon (@nprscottsimon) July 29, 2013

His mother always told him the truth, Simon tells NPR’s Steve Inskeep, but she didn’t tell him everything. So he was glad to have this time with her to talk about things she hadn’t shared with him when he was younger.

“I think we were blessed that she would be able to impart this to me at the very end,” he says. “I think it shows the kind of exquisite sensitivity and judgment that she had, and the consideration for me and the fact that she wanted me to grow up strong and not kind of be burdened by a lot of these concerns.”

On his father, who struggled with alcohol addiction, and died when Simon was 16

I’ve been pretty open about that. I think we always have been. Maybe over the years and, at this particular point in my life … my mother and I were able to finally admit to each other how that angered both of us. And we have no business being angry. Alcoholics don’t deserve it.

On the other hand, I think we had to admit to each other during those last days that he drunk himself out of our family life. And it’s very difficult over the years to hear the protestations of someone who drinks too much who says, “I love you, I love you, I love you more than anything else in the world.” And you have to confront the fact that actually what they love more, or at least what they’re devoted to more, is the next drink that they have to have.

My mother had to decide: She said to me she would’ve stayed with my father forever if it was up to her. But she couldn’t do that to their son. That she knew that there was no life for us as a family. And what she said in our last days together — she shared a conclusion that I think in my bones I had reached, but she was able to articulate it.

I was 16 when my father died. And my mother said, “You know, I think your dad died because it was the last thing he could do for us. He loved us. He wanted to be with us. He understood that because of his problems he couldn’t. But if he left us now on our own, we would still love him and treasure the memories.” She said, “I think he figured dying was the last gift that he could give us.” And I think she’s right.

On what it was like to share these stories in her last days

I think I can say now it was pretty wonderful. They were, along with having our children, and marrying my wife, the sweetest moments of my life to be able to share that with my mother, to be able to spend that time with her knowing, after a while, that this would be our last time together. To be able to tell each other how much we, not only loved each other, but how much the rest of my life will be in a sense a continuation of what she left inside of me.

It made me really understand … that mothers and fathers pour everything they are into us. And they stand us on our own. And they understand that we don’t fully grow up until some day we lose them. There are some lessons that only grief and responsibility can teach us. And to be able to go through that with my mother and have us both feel that inside our souls, really, that’s, that’s a blessing.


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