Thursday, August 1, 2013

Observations from the Coffee Shop 8.1

Twitter always seemed a more natural media to me. It doesn't have the massive profiles, groups, or games of other sites. It serves a more limited purpose and in most cases what I post is what I'm reading, looking at, or thinking about at any given moment. I have been known to delete a post I don't think looks like it belongs, I've been told I'm aesthetically obsessed at times, and because I hate typos but both cases are rare.

Over the past couple weeks (July 16th through July 29th) something fascinating and important happened on Twitter. Scott Simon, a weekend host on NPR, live tweeted the final days of his 84 year old mother's life. I didn't read it live but I've read it since and I think it's beautiful. Simon said he didn't plan on doing it but it began when he found out his mother needed emergency surgery. As he updated her condition he began receiving thousands of responses and so continued posting till the end.

I learned a few things going through my mom's death and one of them relates to this. Some people think death needs to be extremely private and happen behind closed doors. Out of sight. I finally decided, with some help, that those people thought what they did more out of their own fear of death than for any other reason. As with life what matters most in the end is what is best for the people directly involved.

Even now, over ten years after my mom's death, it helped to read his tweets. It helps to realize other people go through, feel, and think the same things. I remember at the time so many questions were running through my head. What should I say? What should I do? How am I supposed to act? I was touched by Simon being torn at times between holding his mother's hand and doing the 'manly' thing by not. I was at my mother's side at the very end and I didn't hold her hand, I just couldn't. That still haunts me sometimes.

But then there is a moment that makes me smile to this day. Needing to be alone I walked out to the hospital parking lot and smoked a cigarette next to a no smoking sign. At the moment I imagined my mother smacking the back of my head for being rebellious even then. Maybe it's just me, maybe the moment doesn't exist, but it seemed like the moment when memory took over from reality. Maybe that's just the way my mind works.

At 8:17 PM on July 29th Simon tweeted this; "The heavens over Chicago have opened and Patricia Lyons Simon Newman has stepped onstage."

notes - Here is the link to Scott Simon's twitter page, @nprscottsimon, you'll need to scroll down to the dates involved. Here is a good column on NPR by Andy Carvin that includes many of Simon's tweets and also some of the responses, "On Twitter, Scott Simon's Long Goodbye To His Mother."