NPR’s Scott Simon: A vigil for his dying mother, tweeted with love

<i>This post has been updated, as indicated below.</i>

Scott Simon, a radio host for NPR’s “Weekend Edition,” gave his mother, Patricia Simon Newman Gilband, a very public farewell.

For the last few days, Simon, who has more than a million followers on Twitter, has been tweeting odes and observations from his mother’s bedside in an intensive-care unit in a Chicago hospital, where she was dying.

“It is a remarkable and moving moment,” fellow NPR host Peter Sagal of “Wait Wait ... Don’t Tell Me!” tweeted Saturday. “Pay attention.”


On Monday at 7:17 p.m., Simon tweeted twice: “The heavens over Chicago have opened and Patricia Lyons Simon Newman has stepped onstage.”

“She will make the face of heaven shine so fine that all the world will be in love with night.”

A few of Simon’s earlier hearfelt tweets are below.

Gilband appeared with her son on NPR in 2008, when the pair bantered as she shared stories from her life in Chicago. “Well, I think the thing I have learned from you -- number one, you’re a beautiful companion,” Gilband told Simon then. “You’ve always been a lot of fun. No matter what age, we all got -- we were compatible. We got along beautifully. … You’ve never lost your childlike sense of enthusiasm.”

I just want to say that ICU nurses are remarkable people. Thank you for what you do for our loved ones.— Scott Simon (@nprscottsimon) July 23, 2013

My mother in ICU sees Kate &amp; Will holding baby and tears: “Every baby boy is a little king to his parents. “ So I tear too.— Scott Simon (@nprscottsimon) July 23, 2013

Watching ChiSox vs Tigers game in ICU w/ mother. Score not improving MY blood pressure.— Scott Simon (@nprscottsimon) July 25, 2013


Bless all ICU nurses who are getting people through pain &amp; anxieties tonight.— Scott Simon (@nprscottsimon) July 25, 2013

All hospitals should have roll-out chairs in ICU rooms so loved ones can spend night w/ patients &amp; not sleep on floor. @NMHnews— Scott Simon (@nprscottsimon) July 25, 2013

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

In line at hospital Starbucks. Dancing in the Streets comes on. Line begins to sing, “They’re dancin’ in Chi-caw-go!”— Scott Simon (@nprscottsimon) July 25, 2013

Tnx for all but wishes for my mother in ICU. Her anthem, more than ever, is But I’m Still Here. She inspires us all.— Scott Simon (@nprscottsimon) July 26, 2013

Our friend Wen Huang dropped by ICU to read to my mother from his book. She smiles, “Haven’t we had a lovely day?”— Scott Simon (@nprscottsimon) July 26, 2013


I consider this a good sign: mother sez when time comes, obit headline should be Three Jewish Husbands, But No Guilt.— Scott Simon (@nprscottsimon) July 27, 2013

My mother drifts to sleep listening to Nat’s Unforgettable. I keep things light, but moments like this hard, if sweet.— Scott Simon (@nprscottsimon) July 27, 2013

Thanks for all good wishes. Mother says, “We can get through this, baby. The hardest part we’ll be for you when it’s over”— Scott Simon (@nprscottsimon) July 27, 2013

-I tell her, “You’ve given me strength to carry it.” She’s reciting White Cliffs of Dover now, becoming 14 before my eyes.— Scott Simon (@nprscottsimon) July 27, 2013

No real sleep tonight. But songs poems memories laughs. My mother: “Thank you God for giving us this night &amp; each other”— Scott Simon (@nprscottsimon) July 27, 2013

Mother: “I don’t know why this is going on so long. I’m late for everything I guess.”— Scott Simon (@nprscottsimon) July 27, 2013


I tell my mother, “You’ll never stop teaching me.” She said, “Well don’t blame me for everything.”— Scott Simon (@nprscottsimon) July 27, 2013

My mother is breathing, finally sleeping. Docs asked what priority is. I just want to take her to sit in our favorite park.— Scott Simon (@nprscottsimon) July 27, 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

Wake up, see my hands shaking. Mother holds them, murmurs, “Goodnight Sweet Prince.” Morphine, but no sleep for her.— Scott Simon (@nprscottsimon) July 28, 2013

I see dawn coming in sky and want to hold it back to keep my mother from what’s ahead--to keep my mother, period.— Scott Simon (@nprscottsimon) July 28, 2013

By request, my ICU bed. Hermes orange, my mother notes. Note functional nightstand, too:— Scott Simon (@nprscottsimon) July 28, 2013


When my mother woke briefly I sang her My Best Girl. She replied w/ You Are the Sunshine of My Life. Broadway in the ICU.— 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

Just spent 45 mins looking for mother’ favorite dental floss. Waste of time? Act of faith.— Scott Simon (@nprscottsimon) July 28, 2013

I think she wants me to pass along a couple of pieces of advice, ASAP. One: reach out to someone who seems lonely today.— Scott Simon (@nprscottsimon) July 28, 2013

And: listen to people in their 80’s. They have looked across the street at death for a decade. They know what’s vital.— Scott Simon (@nprscottsimon) July 28, 2013

Oh, and: Oh earth, you’re too wonderful for anyone to realize you. It goes too quickly.— Scott Simon (@nprscottsimon) July 28, 2013


My mother now wakes only to be gracious. “Is Reggie or Don on-duty? They’re both such exquisite gentlemen.” (and they are)— Scott Simon (@nprscottsimon) July 28, 2013

Mother groans w/ pleasure--over flossing. “When they mention great little things in life, they usually forget flossing.”— Scott Simon (@nprscottsimon) July 28, 2013

Was my mother saving this line? My family flies in. My wife &amp; I joke about me sleeping in the ICU (“All the beeps! Can’t -— Scott Simon (@nprscottsimon) July 29, 2013

In middle of nights like this, my knees shake as if there’s an earthquake. I hold my mother’s arm for strength--still.— Scott Simon (@nprscottsimon) July 29, 2013

Her passing might come any moment, or in an hour, or not for a day. Nurses saying hearing is last sense to go so I sing &amp; joke.— Scott Simon (@nprscottsimon) July 29, 2013

The loveli cityscape at the foot of my mother’s bed:— Scott Simon (@nprscottsimon) July 29, 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

[Updated, 6:17 p.m. July 29: This post has been updated to reflect the fact that Scott Simon’s mother died about 7:17 p.m. Chicago time.]


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