At The Bedside

Sitting vigil in an ICU with a dying parent is an excruciating experience—and not solely because losing a parent is achingly painful.

Sitting in an ICU for hour after hour is also… incredibly boring.

This point is made much more elegantly by Scott Simon, a familiar voice in the world as an author and host of NPR’s Weekend Edition, and who spent many hours at the bedside of his mother, Patricia Lyons Simon Newman Gilband.

As he puts it: “Incurable illnesses are a lot like war—and I’ve covered a lot of wars. They tend to be moments of panic and anxiety that are separated by hours of tedium.”

During the time spent at her bedside, he was collecting bits of wisdom and wit his mother was sharing with him, and then he, in turn, shared them on Twitter, where he has well more than a million followers. Soon Patricia Lyons Simon Newman Gilband had many fans of her very own.

Years later, Simon went on to write a book about all the lessons he’d learned from his mother. But back in 2013, he had only 140 characters. Here are a few of his Tweets, and his video from Daily Beast in which he reads them (that voice!).

Scott Simon @nprscottsimon 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 Nights are the hardest, but that’s why I’m here. I wish I could move my mother’s fear and pain from her bones into mine.

Scott Simon @nprscottsimon I think she wants me to pass along a couple of pieces of advice, ASAP. One: reach out to someone who seems lonely today. Two:  Listen to people in their 80s, they have looked across the street at death for a decade. They know what’s vital.

Scott Simon @nprscottsimon Thank you god for giving us this night, and each other. That will be my life’s slogan from now on.

Scott Simon @nprscottsimon Mother: Believe me, those great deathbed speeches are written ahead of time.

Scott Simon @nprscottsimon Mother: I don’t know why this is going on so long. I’m late for everything, I guess.

Scott Simon @nprscottsimon I just realized: she once had to let me go into the big wide world—and now I have to let her go in the same way