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A Son Live Tweets His Mother’s Final Days

July 30, 2013

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A Son Live Tweets His Mother’s Final Days

Scott Simon, for lack of a better phrase, was live-tweeting his mother’s final days.

In carefully worded posts, Simon, who has spent years artfully telling stories as host of “Weekend Edition Saturday” on National Public Radio, shared these most intimate moments with strangers and friends alike.

On Twitter, his million-plus followers are generally treated to news updates intermingled with the detailed movements of his and his family’s lives. Simon is something of an open book; photos of him as a child on Santa’s lap and of his parents and his children fill his website.

When Simon and his wife adopted their daughter in 2004, he shared it with the world in a recorded essay for NPR. His instantly recognizable voice describes how he and his wife held their daughter in their laps as they sat in a hotel overlooking China’s Pearl River.

“My wife and I were happy before we met our child, but now we feel we’re just beginning to grasp the hugeness of happiness that’s possible,” he said.

Coming to terms with the death of his mother, Patricia Lyons Simon, seems another kind of hugeness, if only as seen through his updates. Lyons Simon died early Monday evening.

On July 19, he mentions her a couple of times but also posts a smiling photo of himself and family out at dinner. Fast forward to July 26, and his updates are posted almost exclusively from inside the hospital’s walls — observations of his mother’s behaviors and his attempts at negotiating the tight-knit hospital community.

By Sunday, the only updates are tender descriptions of their interactions. The lens focuses on just the two of them, and Monday we are given access to the final goodbye between a mother and her son.

A few comments left on the New York Magazine website under a story about Simon’s updates before he confirmed his mother’s death, were critical.

“Everyone suffers loss. Everyone,” wrote commenter MIHAIBRESTYAN. “That’s no excuse for begging for attention and acting pathetic.”

“What’s with the tweet when he said he was holding his mother’s hand,” commenter BARTLEBY posted. “I imagined him by his mother’s bedside doing just that … and typing in his tweet with his other hand. It’s his way of dealing, but in my experience, sometimes you’re more in the moment if you just put your mobile device away.”

On the blog Millers Time, the author makes an observation that sums up much of the social media reaction:

“I am drawn to this for two reasons: I believe Scott Simon is doing a service to us all, opening a window into a life event that many of us have or will experience. In his willingness to share what he is experiencing, in his wonderfully honest and sincere way, he hopefully opens a dialogue families can have prior to such an end of life experience,” the author, who identifies himself as “Richard” says.

“We do not talk enough, I believe, with each other and with our parents about the end of life, especially when there is still time to discuss some of the issues involved. Thank you Scott Simon for doing what you’re doing now,” he says.

Posts included below are in chronological order from oldest to newest, starting Friday, July 26.

To read the tweets on Storfiy, click here.