PORTLAND, Maine — Scott Simon’s mother was a pistol, but she did not have an easy life. Her husband had a drinking problem; so did her ex-husband. Just keeping a roof over her head was a challenge. “She worked in clubs,” Simon remembers. “She sold clothes in stores along Michigan Avenue [in Chicago]. She did print ads. She was a hostess in the Singapore Lounge in Chicago. Was it being a coal miner? No. But it was a tough way to make a living—lots of anxiety--and all the while trying to look out for me.”
His life followed a different trajectory. For many years he has been an award-winning host for NPR as well as the author of several highly praised books, one of them a memoir about his mother. When the end came at the age of 84 and she was in a hospital in intensive care, Simon began sending out tweets of what she was telling him in her last days. Some people thought Simon was acting in bad taste; most found the tweets funny, often inspiring.
“My mother was not a shrinking violet,” Simon says. Indeed, she’d worked as a showgirl—and loved it. Going out in style was completely in character. “I think she was giving us a last great performance,” Simon says, “and I think she certainly knew that one way or another I was going to share it.”