When multi-talented writer/director Nora Ephron died last June at age 71, it came as a shock to many around her -- she hadn't been vocal at all about her diagnosis of leukemia. But certainly her family was aware of her terminal illness, and her son Jacob Bernstein (whose father is journalist Carl Bernstein) was at her bedside in her final days. And as the son of two writers, as he told TODAY's Matt Lauer Thursday, he was doing what writers do: Taking notes.
"My mother's mother, who was also a writer, always said 'Everything is copy,'" he explained. "When she was on her deathbed, she said to my mother, 'Take notes.' And my mother did. So I don't think I'm doing something that's out of sync."
His memories and recollections from those notes are set to appear in the New York Times Magazine on Sunday, and can be read online now. In it, he reveals some very personal details of his mother's final days, and says while writing it he was thinking of not just his mother's passing, but of her life.
"'Would it be good enough?' was the biggest question on my mind," he said. "She would have found a way to be funny about it, she would have found a way to be heartbreaking about it, and that's what she was, you know, great at."
As the writer/director of such films as "Sleepless in Seattle" and "You've Got Mail," Ephron was, said Bernstein, the person "whose approval I looked to" when he wrote. "She was absolutely the one you waited for the email from saying 'great job' and ... she could tell I'd been on a story for a couple of weeks and she'd say 'have you called at least two dozen people on this yet?' And it was 'Uh, God,' because she was usually right."