NPR treasure Diane Rehm wants to start a conversation about life – the prime of it, and the end of it. She speaks with us in this lightly edited 49 minute interview about her latest book, When My Time Comes. But we don’t start there.
We begin with Diane explaining what causes her to be a “slow talker,” how she feared slow talking would sink her career, and why, instead, her career soared.
We introduce Diane to one of the children’s books I loved reading to my daughter – Betsy and Tacy Go Over The Big Hill. On the other side of that hill, at the beginning of the 20th century, was a community of Arab immigrants who had recently arrived in America – just like Diane’s parents. That connection makes her take on Betsy and Tacy memorably moving.
And then we get to the heart of her new book. Diane shares the story of her half-century marriage to attorney John Rehm, and the painful last days of his life – which led her on a journey to When My Time Comes.
The book is about the end of life. It was sparked by the battle that her husband of fifty years waged against Parkinson’s disease. When he felt his end had clearly arrived – he wanted to hasten it. The law said no. A painful ten-day journey ensued – which ultimately led Diane to the conversations featured in her book.
I think you’ll find that Diane Rehm’s approach to life – and death – is empowering and uplifting, especially when we surprise her with a guest who played a pivotal moment in her book – her 20-year-old grandson, Benjamin Zide. That’s not a spoiler for you. What’s so wonderful about seeing them, together, in addition to the love they have for each other, is when they discuss the path he is taking – inspired by her.
One more thing. When I asked Diane what’s on her mind right now – she revealed what she would do if she catches the coronavirus. When you hear her answer, you may want this conversation to continue – and even participate – which we invite you to do by emailing us your questions on video, audio, or in writing, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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