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Unforgettable: A Son, a Mother, and the Lessons of a Lifetime

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  1,855 ratings  ·  336 reviews
Instant New York Times Bestseller

"In a return to the bighearted storytelling that made him a star NPR correspondent, [Simon] pays full tribute to the ex-showgirl who...taught her only son to be honest, kind, and entertaining. Be assured, tears will fall."--People Magazine

"In his poignant, funny, intimate memoir of his last days with [his mother], Simon reflects on...
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published March 31st 2015 by Flatiron Books
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Average rating 4.04  · 
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 ·  1,855 ratings  ·  336 reviews

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Cat Higgins
Apr 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015-books
It would be my greatest wish granted for my own son to one day love me this much.
Jennifer Coppolo Holsing
File this one under "Books Not to Finish in the Break room at Work."

But seriously, just lovely and human and lovely.
(Lonestarlibrarian) Keddy Ann Outlaw
What a privilege it was to share Scott Simon's last days with his mother. This is an unforgettable tribute to Patricia, his mother: to her spunk, courage, humor and sheer loveliness. I feel like I knew her. Of all things, Scott organized this book around his Tweets from his mother's hospital room, and coming from him, that works. There is considerable substance following each Tweetful inspiration....

Having lost my mother less than two years ago, I was in awe of how the stars aligned for this par
This book brought tears in my eyes.
☼Book her,   Danno☼
Well, I'm all frothy about this one. It's a quick read but I had to stop and put it aside--forever. And the reasons aren't all that clear cut. But the major one was that it was depressing the hell of me.

But let me back up a bit and sort of describe why I chose the word frothy and not some singular term that might more easily describe my emotional conflict with UNFORGETTABLE.

The book starts out great and I was interested. I didn't follow or even know about Scott's tweets, but I know of Scott Sim
Jul 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
LOVED this book - as I have, all of Scott Simon's books so far. Don't be put off by the subject - the death of his mother. It is about WAAAY more than that. It's about memory. It's about the bonds of love. It is about forgiveness. It's about laughing as healing and survival. And, of course, it is about a mother and a son. There are moments of crying and there are moments of hilarity - and, often, they come together. If you have a close relationship with your mother - or, if you didn't - read thi ...more
Quinn Cummings
Jan 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
An uplifting, funny and life-affirming book about dying and, to my way of thinking, the natural accompaniment to Atul Gawande's BEING MORTAL. Both of them are talking about how to best serve the patient in those last months, weeks, days of life and both are simply terrific. Simon's love for his mother shines through but his journalistic eye keeps it from cloying. If his book about adopting his daughters was a love letter to how two wonderful girls entered his life, this book is a loving farewell ...more
Kasa Cotugno
At his mother's side during her final decline, Scott Simon and she remember their life together, shared family history, and unique connection. I wish there was a way I could write her a thank you note for the observations and wisdoms I learned. Yes, she led a full rich life, her passing was the normal passage of things, but her loss is immeasurable. ...more
Jan 06, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I leave every funeral resolved to be a better person. Witnessing the love and longing for the departed, hearing the stories that defined their lives, life's murky dilemmas clear up. Prioritizing become easy. What matters most are family, friends, kindness, and character. After reading Unforgettable, Scott Simon's entertaining and inspirational eulogy for his mother, I felt exactly the same.

From the beginning of the book, we know Scott Simon's mother is going to die. This sweet and moving story
Apr 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
Scott Simon's Unforgettable is a heartfelt, nostalgic, funny and uplifting celebration of his mother's life. Simon, host of NPR's Weekend Edition Saturday, spent his mother's final days with her in an intensive care unit in Chicago, looking back at the life she created for him as a solo parent and working mother.

Patricia Lyons was a glamorous Irish Catholic who married Ernie Simon, an alcoholic Jewish comedian. The suicide of Lyons's mother taught her self-preservation early. When her husband be
Christine Zibas
Feb 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
For anyone who has lost someone close to them or even just experienced a traumatic health scare (and accompanying hospital visit), this book will ring true. More than that, it will touch your deepest emotions. The genesis of the book actually began with NPR radio personality Scott Simon, who began tweeting his experiences as his mother lay in intensive care in a Chicago hospital.

Scott chronicles the indignaties of hospital care and, conversely, the generosity of those who work with the criticall
Jul 31, 2015 rated it liked it
I read an excerpt of this book in a magazine some time ago so when I saw the book I snatched it up. First of all, let me say that the relationship and love between Scott Simon and his mother was amazing. She obviously did all the right things in raising him as essentially a single mother. Her death was tragic and made me once again think about the fact that we tend to be kinder to our animals than we do to our sick and dying. I felt some outrage at the experiences he had to deal with during his ...more
John Tan
Feb 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: library-choices
"We don't become the people we are all at once. But if we are lucky, every love, laugh, and loss puts a wrinkle in our hearts to make us distinctive. All the wrinkles, reverses, and trials will teach us a little and give our lives purpose and meaning."

My recent readings have been full of melancholy moments. This book is no exception. Describing a son's support of his mother's last days and reflecting on a lifetime together, I can only hope that I will be as important a person in someone else's l
May 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
A lovely tribute to a beloved mother. Scott Simon wrote about his mother's last days and how they supported and reminisced about their special relationship. A quote from his book has touched my soul. "A mother's death also makes us realize: we're next. It resets the clock we keep on our own lives. It reminds us not to let our best loves, dreams, vows, and promises dry up and die." ...more
Jun 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Scott Simon has written a touching and heartfelt remembrance of his mother. Beautifully written, funny, sad and so worth reading. Highly recommended.
Dec 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir
I stumbled across Scott Simon's twitter feed during his mother's final time in the hospital. I had probably listed to him on NPR but it didn't register at the time. His tweets during his mother's last days were heartbreaking and heartwarming - the love between the two so obvious.
This book is based off of those tweets and Simon has done a wonderful job conveying what a warm and wise woman his mother was.

I hope that my children think of me one day with a fraction of the love and joy that Scott S
Carmen Ochoa
Aug 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
“It is necessary to lose our mothers to finally grow up. There is no need to hurry this along; it happens too soon in any case. But there is some wisdom that we can’t learn until our mothers have let go. There are lessons that only loss, grief, and responsibility can give us.”
Travel Writing

If only every child could have a mother that loved them with the wild abandon and practicality that Patricia Lyons Simon Newman loved her son, Scott Simon.

This book is a love story between a son and a mother who lived a wide, wild, kamikaze life that she made as safe and gentle for her son as she had the power to. This story is his thank you to the woman who gave him life. Once when she birthed him, twice when she left the drunk father who was going to destroy them, and countless times with hum
Apr 15, 2015 rated it it was ok
A sad read about a son's last few days with his mother. NPR host and author Scott Simon took to Twitter to tweet his mother's last days in the hospital. What was condensed to about 140 or so characters online evolved into this book about his mother, his relationship with her, her relationship with others, and basically a celebration about his mom.
I somewhat followed the tweets until the very end, where I read the last few. Some said that it was maudlin and attention-seeking. Others enjoyed Simo
Jun 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
Poignant. Well written. Scott's mother is quite a character so this book of the stories of her and his life were enjoyable. Some words of wisdom to take away. I've saved this excerpt that comes towards the end of the book:

"A mother’s death also makes us realize: we’re next. It resets the clock we keep on our own lives. It reminds us not to let our best loves, dreams, vows, and promises dry up and die.

It is necessary to lose our mothers to finally grow up. There is no need to hurry this along; it
Apr 17, 2015 rated it liked it
Suicide and infidelity puts a fly in your head, she said. "It's always buzzing around. You never really get rid of it."
Scott Simon, a familiar name on NPR's Week-end Edition, wrote about the last few days and nights he spent with his Mother in the ICU. You learn about these two people and what was important to them and how they saw the world, dealt with it, and remembered it. Quite touching with sweet reminiscences. Scott Simon choose to relate this observances during the time with tweets he po
Oct 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
I was leary of reading a book about a conversation between a son and his mother on her deathbed, but the author's writing was beautiful, and cleverly interspersed with flashbacks of their life together in a way that allowed the reader to really get to know them. While it was obviously sad, it was actually more inspiring due to the love of the son and the courage of the mother. I also had not expected to find so much humor in a book about facing death. I am glad I discovered this book on the shel ...more
May 10, 2015 rated it liked it
During the last few days of his mother's life, Simon tweets his thoughts and reflections while sitting at her bedside in the hospital. This book fleshes out those 140 character tidbits into a grander story of their relationship and their conversations as they face her death. His mother comes across as one classy, fun lady, and he is portrayed as a loving, dedicated son. This is a beautiful tribute to their relationship. ...more
May 31, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(Audible; Scott Simon, narrator) Anecdotal, quiet, admiring, loving memoir of the author's mother. The author grew up in Chicago in the fifties and recalls with joy many of the things he did with his mother in that great city. He describes some of the Impressionist paintings in the Art Institute that he saw with her. Perhaps he and I crossed paths during my own visits to the Art Institute with my mother and grandmother in the fifties. ...more
Aug 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A devoted son takes the tweets he sent from his mother's hospital room and turns it into an ode to her, a quirky, fun, elegant mother who raises her son to be a man. His summary of her life lessons hit home, "Write thank you notes. Tip well. Sing. Drink responsibly. Remember that good manners cost nothing, and open doors. Reach out to someone who is lonely. Make them laugh. Help people smile." Despite the inevitable sad outcome, this book lifts you up!!!! ...more
Misse Jones
Sep 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
So heartfelt and so good. After having lost a parent and having had time similarly to the author to spend in those last days with him I know how wonderful yet painful death can be, especially to those of us left behind. Somehow, he was able to pull this one off with moments that'd make you cry and laugh hysterically. A wonderfully written book. ...more
Jan 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I loved everything about this book. I read it around the 2nd anniversary of my own mother's death. He does a wonderful job of conveying the feelings and the experiences adult child goes through when able to see a parent through to the end of life. It was a beautiful story of love and life lessons learned. ...more
Apr 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I can't articulate how much this short, non-fiction book about NPR Morning Edition Saturday's Scott Simon and his devoted mother moved me. I'll probably never stop thinking about it.

And, now I can't wait to read Scott's other books.
Jun 23, 2015 rated it it was ok
I've always enjoyed Scott Simon on NPR, and his other books, but this one felt forced and tedious. Perhaps I couldn't identify with the bond he felt with his mother, who seemed like the child, while Scott was the parent. I'm amazed the success he's found being raised by such an unbalanced person. ...more
What a loving tribute to Scott's mom. After listening to his story, I only wish I could meet her.

At the end of my life, I am hopeful that my children will be able to laugh and tell stories about my life, my quirks and my many mistakes...but yet be so proud to have loved me and learned from me.
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SCOTT SIMON is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters, having reported from all over the world and from many wars. He is now the award-winning host of Weekend Edition Saturday. With over 4 million listeners it is the most-listened to news program on NPR. Simon has won a Peabody and an Emmy for his reporting and also has over 1.2 million followers on Twitter. ...more

Articles featuring this book

"Behind all your stories is always your mother's story. Because hers is where yours begin." -Mitch Albom The bond...
54 likes · 25 comments
“Children connect you to eternity,” she wrote us. “They’re like notes to be opened after we die.” 1 likes
“A classy guy had manners. He said please and thank you, Mr. and Miss, and held open doors. Classy guys picked up checks. They left good tips. They dressed with respect. They kept their word. They sent flowers. They apologized personally. They tried to be kind and courteous, even if they sometimes had to be firm, and their best jokes were about themselves. My mother’s friends” 1 likes
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