tv Sally Quinn Finding Magic CSPAN November 22, 2017 5:10am-6:16am EST
good evening, everyone. my name is ruth and it's a pleasure to welcome you tonight for the program. before we get started, i want to go over a couple of quick housekeeping details. please sign when's your cell phones, and if you have, to let you know there's no recording photo was allowed during the programs, thanks. however, you will get a chance to see because they are taping tonight you may be on tv very soon. sally quinn is a longtime "washington post" journalist, columnist, and one of the renowned social hostesses. also the founder of the religious website on the "washington post" writes for variourates forvarious publicatd authored several books including the partparty guide to adventurs entertaining, happy endings and
we are going to make you a star about the experience as a first network agent in the u.s.. sally is in conversation with two good friends who are also offers. also a walsh is the author of divided lines the public and private struggles. a staff writer at the new yorker and reporter for the "washington post" where she was a finalist for the pulitzer prize and investigative journalism category. the "washington post" worked since 1971 and shared to pulitzer prize is first in 1973 for the watergate scandal with carl bernstein and 2002 as the reporter for the coverage of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. he has authored or co-authored eight teen books over the year with the most recent one being the last of the presidents men so please join me in a warm
welcome for sally quinn, bob woodward and elsa walsh for the program. [applause] >> i think in the spirit of full disclosure we should announce to that you and i are married. in fact, sally introduced us right before the civil war. [laughter] we are going to talk about the book finding magic which must
confess a book i love and what matters, your career, spouse, child and children and your friends. so she will read the questioning and i will interrupt. i love the book a very fast read if you haven't read it yet. i want to start with some things you wrote in the book which struck me and you write my child experience with magic planted the seed that grew into what i
have today. do you want to talk about that? >> i am from the deep south born in savanna georgia and spend all of my summers in statesboro about 60 miles out and midnight in the garden of good and evil and where they were scottish presbyterian, my aunt. the organ into church on sundays but every one in the family, eight or nine kids in the family there was also another religion or faith or set of beliefs, whatever you want to call them, so they all believed in a the time travel and psychic phenomenotraveling psychicphenoo astrology and cards and voodoo.
so i had two separate religions, my christian religion and i believed and prayed every night, but i also had another set of beliefs which i later came to learn when i was finishing the book that was just as legitimate and ban any other religion because i think all religion is magic in the end. somebody would rattle chains up and down and there was a huge antibellem southern mansion with a plantation so they would drag the train chains up and down the hallway and go upstairs and there would be scratches on the
floor. my aunt had a heart condition and daydream about her mother and came to us and said don't worry, you're going to be fine. she said how will i know that you're telling me the truth and she said i will leave something as evidence. she got up the next morning and went to the parlor and there was her mother's shawl that she had been buried in. now this is all family to lower. my grandmother, my mother, her sister, my sister, we all have some psychic ability all of our lives, and i can't every night who lived in florida, she woke up one night screaming and said there's been a terrible plane crash and they called the
authorities living in fort lauderdale and they said there is a plane that's gone down but we don't know where it is and she went and found them and were able to rescue some of the people. so then i had my own experience. i went to smith college and i had a horrible feeling about my mother and i knew something typical was happening. there were no cellphones and i went to the phone and i started calling. my father was a general in the army and warmy and we lived in r virginia to. so orderlies were always at the house constantly and i called and there was no answer and i called and i called. no one answered and i just wouldn't let the phone go.
finally there was one of the orderlies and i was frantic. is my mother alright thanks no, she's not actually. what happened? >> there's been an incident. i could hear another person come in the room and he said ivo put your mother on. my mother got on me and was crying so she couldn't even speak and what happened was she had been in the bathtub and the tub was running and agi that had been living on the playground in the barracks came over and entered the house. he went in to steal some things which he had done several times before. so took his coat and jacket and put it over her head and pushed her under the water and was
drowning her and she was literally about to drown but the phone startephone started ringit raineitrang and rang and rang at didn't stop and kept ringing and finally he got panicked because he thought someone would hear it and come up so he let her go and ran out of the house, and she was able to come up. >> you were always a believer in magic. >> they found the guy -- this has always been part of my life. the book has gotten attention because i talk about voodoo. i don't know whether i need tv than it or not when i was in my 20s i decided to put a hex on people and i did it three times. i didn't know what i was doing and i sort of just wanted to --
because they hurt me or something i just wanted them to feel uncomfortable o or if the pain i felt and unfortunately, they all died. [laughter] i know, everybody always laughs. just to be clear, they didn't die right away. >> everyone eventually does. >> one of them died a week later and one got fired right away, lost his job and then died and the other one died shortly after. but i didn't believe i was responsible for this. he thought the whole thing was nonsense and a joke, but there was something in the vet said can i really do this, and my brother got his phd in religion at the university of chicago and
was one of the great literary scholars and became a lawyer he said you don't want to do this any more, believe me you want to cut this out because there is a wall of three fold which is whatever energy you put out you get it back threefold and after the third time i got freaked out and i just stopped. but that was 35 years ago and i've never done it again. i've always been really nice to you. >> whenever he got pissed off at someone he would say go get them. [laughter] i want to say one more thing. all my friends are skeptical in fact nobody believes me and i don't really either but i can tell you how many skeptical friends i have in the last year to have begged me to put a hex on donald trump. [laughter]
you asked me about magic and that was a long answer. >> one of the themes in your book is there is anger at god and that begins as an unusually long age of the age of four. maybe it's because your father was in the military, world war ii, south korea and war. you have a lot of interaction with death and i wonder if you can explain why there was this anger at a young age and why it made u-turn from believing in a god. god. >> he was in world war ii and had a staff photographer take photographs of all of these dead bodies and he made a scrapbook which is now at the holocaust
museum, and he hid it and i found it when i was four after he had just come back. i went to him and said what is this? we didn't have television in those days and he explained the nazis and what they ha have don. i said did god know about this and he said yes he did. i said how could he have with this happened and he said god works in mysterious ways and we just don't know why he did this. i was devastated. i went upstairs and cried all night long because all i could think about were these young little jewish children in the camps praying for their safety and protection and their parents praying and i was praying and look what happened to them and it became clear to me there was no such thing so i became an atheist at the age of four although i didn't know what that meant and i certainly never told anybody, but i stopped saying my prayers and i learned what the word meant when i was 13. but then my father -- and i was
an atheist when i started the website 11 years ago at the "washington post." i was very angry and then my father was stationed in korea and i got very sick when he left. they never found out what was wrong with me they think it was psychosomatic i was so terrified my father was going to get killed. i was ten and he was always in the front lines, he was buffalo bill and the buffaloes were taking on north korea. so i was in the tokyo general hospital and they were bringing in all of the wounded soldiers, 17, 18, 19-years-old and they wouldn't allow me that they wouldn't allow us to see our parents because they thought it was disruptive because they didn't have enough staff to take care of the kids and deal with the wounded soldiers. so i saw the wounded soldiers and then i didn't get better so they transferred me back to the general hospital in san antonio
and we didn't know this, but they put me and my mother and my sister and little brother on the hospital plane full of wounded soldiers. there were no seats and there were the most severely wounded soldiers. a lot of them had lost limbs, badly burned. they were dying and bleeding and my mother would go up and down the aisles and they were calling for their mothers and crying and begging to die or not to die. the blood was everywhere and i kept thinking how could there be a god, how could any god allow this to happen and then he would take them in a bag in the back of a plane but it was probably one of the most traumatic experiences i've been through. it wasn't until jon meacham,
editor of "newsweek" an and a vy well known pulitzer prize writer and religion scholar and deeply profoundly christian. he said it is a negative word and you are not a negative person. it means you deny the existence of god and you can't because you don't know and the word agnostic has never meant anything to me because i think it means we don't know and we all agnostic and the pope is because he doesn't know any more than i do. my favorite bumper sticker is i don't know if you don't either and i think that is true but he said to me if you're going to be an atheist, and you need to learn something about religion. he gave me a book to feed him something was percolating inside
me. he said how can you be angry at god if you don't believe in god and i thought well that is an interesting question. then i had this idea to start the website. >> let's stop here for a moment. you started the website at around the same time that your husband the great editors of the "washington post," someone we all love, began to fail. and you did what many journalists often do. you began a journalistic exploration of something that was maybe more personal than you ever were really willing to admit. let's talk about that but let's talk a little bit more about him first. >> i will just say that he
developed dementia and she dyed it will be three years the week after next. but he hathat he had been diagnt years before that, eight, nine, ten, 11. i never actually put that together, but that year he was diagnosed as when i started the religion website and i have all of this life reading that i've been doing but i thought we were not covering religion because i thought it was such an important story from not only a political point of view but also foreign-policy. i went to don graham and i suggested i believe religion website. i suggested that be the paper should cover religion and he said why don't you start a petition website, this was in the dark ages when you could do anything. it was an arlington in arlingtot even anywhere near the post. i said i don't know anything
about the internet or religion and he said nobody's perfect. [laughter] so i got jon meacham to be my co- moderator and then shortly after that started, a trip round the world. one of the things john and i i wanted to do a panel, so one of them was martin who also was a teacher of my covers brother's,t enough religion at the university of chicago and i knew karen armstrong who was a religion scholar and archbishop and they were all friends of mine so i called amanda said would you be on the panel and after that i was golden because nobody would turn it down. >> about your friends didn't really understand what your interests are. >> band was absolutely appalled. he couldn't believe, and they still can't. nobody understands how it was
that i could start a religion website and after that i took a trip around the world and it was a three week trip and we went to about 13 countries and i saw it was important for me to do that because i saw first han firsthaf these different religions and obviously as you pointed out what was percolating in me was s my sport of beginning spirituality. i was looking for meaning in my life and i haven't articulated it. i have read victor's book a man's search for meaning which is one of your favorite books, and that had a powerful impact on me particularly because of my history with the nazis and the holocaust with my father, but it just seemed to me i was turning my wheels.
i got so involved in religion and then became more involved in spirituality and i began to feel more than i was looking for something more and i stopped calling myself an atheist at some point but i still didn't know what to call myself. there is the old cliché man, woman, comes to god in the weariness. is there some of that in this sense? its known and you lay it out in the book the relationships had. and on and on for decades and as he drifted away, is there some kind of fan okay, i'm going to fill that sex >> that is a great question.
>> leave it like you to lie down on the couch. [laughter] >> i didn't think of it that way and once he was diagnosed, we never discussed it again and i kept looking at all these tv ads where the older couple goes to the doctor and one of them to diagnosed and they hold hands and starts making plan start mae future and all that. that didn't happen with us. he was a master of denial, the king of denial, so we just didn't talk about it and went on as though nothing had happened, but i could see that i was losing hand and that i needed something to fill that void. so i wouldn't call myself a seeker but i did have moments of transcendence and one of those i started a video interview thing
called divine impulses and i interviewed people and i always asked them at the end what is your life meaning? what is your sense of the divine. i don't know where i came up with that because it isn't anything i've ever asked myself. and in fact one night i was sitting next to bury a dinner party and he turned t turned tod said do you have faith. my website was called on faith and i didn't know how to answer because i haven't thought about it myself, so i did have to start thinking about it and there were moments in my life when i just knew there was something bigger than i was. i didn't believe in god but i did believe in a creator because i couldn't get my mind around the idea first there was nothing had been there was something so i began to accept that there was something bigger than i was and as he began to fail i began to spend more time with him and the
last two years of his life i became his caretaker. i never hired a caretaker. we have a housekeeper that helped me out and he was sundown in which is you get up in the middle of the night, don't know where you are. finally he couldn't take a shower or change. i had to change his clothes and get him dressed and undressed and teach them how to push his teeth every night every morning and i slipped into bed with him every night until he died. he would get up and wander around, he would get lost, have blackouts, psychotic episodes he would destroy furniture in the house. it was quite scary. but i know this sounds strange but this is probably the most spiritual time in my entire life. i don't think i ever had a feeling like i did because i felt truly needed and wanted and fulfilled. he was this really macho guy and didn't like being pushed around
and didn't like me telling him what to do and it was a joke among our friends i'd say you are the most henpecked and in washingtoman inwashington and h crazy. he kind of let go and allowed me to take care of him and love him iand the way i wanted to love hm and he kept saying to me thank you for taking such good care of me. and i felt that last two years of our lives was probably the happiest two years i've ever had with him in my life even though as horrible as it was, it gave me a sense of fulfillment and put me in touch with the divinee in a way that i never had before. >> i remember you telling me during that your code that you felt it was sort of inexplicable this feeling you were having. it was like crack cocaine, you couldn't get enough of it because he needed and wanted you so much.
>> yes. he loved me old ways and he always needed and wanted me bute but not in that way that i just felt like this is the meaning of life, this is what has given my life meaning. and our son, my only child was born with a heart defect and has heart surgery when he was three months old and was severely learning-disabled at a young age so i had to take a leave of absence from the post for almost 16 years because we were looking at the children'livingat the chr most of the time. and again, somebody once said to me were you reasonable and i said no, i wasn't. i was wistful. i kept thinking of the career that i could have had, but to me, taking care of him as the
most important thing i could do and so in the end, it became clear to me when i was writing the book but it was years before then died and i didn't have anything in me to write in all l of my energy was going to taking care of him but it was two or three weeks after he died i thought i got to just sit down and write this so i did start writing about his decline and his death and that was the most traumatic thing i've ever done, but i needed to get it out but that isn't how i was going to start the book. he was so energetic and charismatic and i wanted to
introduce him believe that he was in the beginning. >> this is a good place for you to tell us how you met ben. >> i was hired on the editorial page of the post to be secretary fothesecretary for which i wasnt qualified. i couldn't type or file. i was completely dazzled, just blown away. i spent ten minutes and i just thought he was the most incredible person i ever met and then we left and they called and said you're fired. you are over qualified for the job.
if you took the job h we would hate each other in a month. i didn't see him again until about a year and a half or two years later when he called me and asked me if i would come in for an interview. i defend the social secretary for the ambassador and he wanted me to be a party reporter. >> you really could not hold a job. >> i had like ten jobs before. >> late bloomer, failure to launch. [laughter] you were a dancer or temporari temporarily.
>> you auditioned to be the girlfriend of a father and a flipper movie. [laughter] the director said part of my job of beating the girlfriend as they would have to sleep with him can he actually said that to me in the rehearsal so i said i will have to ask my father. so i didn't get the callback. [laughter] i have decided to go back to my first love, the theater. i tried out for a part and i got a phone call from the director who said, you got the part.
i said i would come in to see him and he would start rehearsals and then i got a phone call and he said they want to talk to you about being a party reporter and i said okay. [laughter] so i went down to interview him thinking he wouldn't hire me, and this is true. true. he had we had a fantastic interd i wore a little white gloves. >> how did you prepare for the interview? >> i looked up his astrological sign because i was very big into astrology and still am. bob is a taurus and so is quinn. so he is a virgo and i realized they don't like artifice of any
kind and the like people who are straight and honest and don't try to show off and so i went in and i later gave an interview to the washingtonian magazine that said i did my virgo number. [laughter] anyway, we had a wonderful connection. we started sparring with each other advice is being very cheeky i thought because he was 20 years older but he got along well and he said can you show me something i've written and i said i've never written anything and he said nobody's perfect. [laughter] and so i started working -- >> you were a really successful party reporter and in this sense kind of a scandalous of something serious to read about in the "washington post."
how did you do that? what was the key to being a great party reporter? you can go to these things and get stuck in the corner and obviously you were not. >> most people don't realize being a party reporter is the hardest job at the newspaper and elizabeth, who i hired to replace me when i went to cbs news to be the first network anchorwoman in america which was a disaster by the way, but elizabeth came down and was at columbia journalism school and all of her friends made fun of her and said how can you be a party reporter and she's now the bureau chief of the times, washington bureau. and she said it was the best training i ever had because if you are in washington, all things new cover art official.
so you are out there with all the senators and congressmen and the administrations and diplomat, military, journalists, lawyers, lobbyists. what i did every night, i get the guest list and i go to the national desk of the reporters can i say henrisay henry kissino be there and strom thurmond or whomever else it might be, whatever senator or white house person. what do you need to know and they said we are working on a story of such and such. so i would go and get a drink in my hand and had my little notebook and i would go out and standing there with three or four people they are all drinking and laughing and talking. are we going to bomb vietnam? well, i don't know -- [laughter] but it's the kind of thing where you couldn't ever get people to talk the way they did if you
made an appointment and went to their office and interviewed them. so i ended up breaking a bottle of stories and ultimately into a the apolitical reporter doing profiles of the powerful people in washington. >> and you develop to tha develn art form which was never evident in the post until you kind of came along. why did that work? i remember reading the profiles of people in the nixon administration for instance and saying she now understands who these people are. there was a lot of insight into those profiles. >> i always found out with your astrological sign was. [laughter]
the first day that i went to work he just started the style section two months earlier and it was about tea parties and flower arrangements and that kind of thing. suddenly he mixed it up and he brought them into this section but writers, one of them was phil casey who'd been a police reporter for 30 years and he was a gnarly old guy that spoke 12 packs a day and his desk was a mess and sleeves rolled up and grumpy. he looks at me and says let me tell you something. i want to give you one bit of advice. when you cover parties, cover
parties the way you cover a crime. there's always a victim and there's always a perpetrator. [laughter] and that was really good advice. when you cover parties or even when you are interviewing people you think there's one and you know that better than anyone. [laughter] you realize you've got to decide the victim was. [laughter] >> why was he a great editor max >> my father was a great leader and they both have the same quality of incredible confidence and assurance in themselves and what they did. they were both very courageous.
they cared about the people who were working for them. they wanted to get the best out of people so they encouraged the people that worked for them to do their best work and complemented them but they were also really tough and demanding. but there was also they both have a great sense of humor. he had a quality that was very charming. i never saw them afraid of anything ever except he was afraid in was going to die. that was the only time i saw him afraid.
my father was afraid. i held him in my arms on his deathbed but that's the only time i saw either one of trade or depressed. so there was always a quality of optimism about them. we are going to get out there and get a story. if you're going to get it first and we are going to get it right. i think a lot of it has to do with ethics, morals and values. both of them in their own ways have a really strong moral guide and moral compass and i think people sensed that about half of them but they both made people want to follow them. he said her husband is a five-star general. that is the highest compliment he could ever give anybody. in your book you say washington
is a spiritual post. washington is all about power and it makes good people do bad things. the power center cannot by its nature be a spiritual place. that doesn't mean the people that live here don't have values or ethics. it does mean the quest for power in many cases trumps those virtues. we've seen it all the time. and we've been disappointed by it over and over again. i was in martha's vineyard this summer there was a young man who'd been a navy seal running for congress and he'd come to speak and we all sat around and he was just so idealistic. i want to change the world and do good things and help people and come to washington.
he was just overflowing with enthusiasm and optimism and idealism. after he left i turned to this friend of mine and said i wonder how he's going to remain that idealistic because the first thing you learn when you come here is in order to do the things you need to do, you have to make compromises and then i find so often people will make compromises and then that line you cross starts to blur and people will go over the line and take compromises they never should have made and do things they never should have done. one of the parts of this particularly for politicians are people who have to raise money. i've had a number of friends quit politics because they say it is so perfect they can't stand it.
>> folks describe john tower was the senator from texas in the harvey weinstein moment that we are and my father's closest friend was very cold water and they were close with my parents. i worked for barry goldwater on capitol hill when i first came to washington as a senior in high school i loved barry goldwater and i loved him all the way through his life i thought he was one of the most wonderful people i've ever met and he ended up living with my parents when his wife got sick and moved to arizona so we would have dinner with him a lot. but anyway, i admit john through my father and so we struck up a conversation and he was a tiny
little guy and not at all attractive. but it turns out i majored in politics at smith and it turns out he taught theater at this college in texas so he said why don't you come up to the hill i would like to take you to the senate dining room for lunch. how nice. so, anyway, i worked on the hill for him and so he stayed for lunch and then they called and said he is really tied up and wants to have dinner. i didn't know how to say no so i said okay.
we went to georgetown which is a very posh restaurant and he started trying to hold my hand at dinner and he was married of course. i was frantic because he was very repulsive. [laughter] short pudgy fingers and squinty eyes. [laughter] i eat as fast as i could because i had to get to work tomorrow i started to hail a cab and he pulled me across the street to a nightclub called the espionage. obviously this is where the congressmen and senators took their girlfriends and upstairs with a parlor and it was so dark. we got in there and he started
grabbing me and trying to hold my hand and everything and i said what he read her poem. i am a really good palm reader either way. [laughter] so desperately reading his poem and he says to the waiter he wants anothe another drink so ip and say i have to go to work and he says i'm going to go with you we were living in fort myer virginia and i said no you live on the hill. it's okay. we got in the cab and he tried to rape me and started pulling my clothes off, pulled my underwear down and i was screaming at the top of my lungs senator, senator, stop. this poor old guy knew what was going on and was frantic going about 100 miles an hour to get me home so we got up to fort myer but he was strong.
he jumped out and opened the door and i was trying to put my clothes on. he was like an animal. i ran and slammed the door and i cried all night long and i was so ashamed because i thought i had done something wrong. i didn't tell anybody for a couple of years. i told nobody because i thought i brought this on myself. you would feel ashamed because it is your fault and so a couple days i told them about it and
they were upset but not as upset as they should have been. you told me about it when i was up for being secretary of defense and i thought i can't use this because it was new but in my head, somebody who will do this. what happened was they did tell a few friends after that and it sort of when he was nominated to be secretary of defense, which he really wanted they said we're here to talk to the senator we understand you had an incident and i said there is no way we are going to talk about this and i said it's totally confidenti
confidential. so i didn't call them and anita hill didn't tell anybody and so told the fbi and it wasn't confidential and she was up there and her whole life was ruined. i could have been anita hill if i didn't know any better. but it turned out one republican who voted against power and destroyed his passivity was nancy kassebaum. she said i heard sally's story and i thought i'm not going to vote for that guy. anyway, that's in the book. i know we are supposed to open this up to some questions.
>> when you write a book like this which you traveled long and hard, what did you learn about yourself? >> i started out writing these little episodes. although i didn't know that is what i was doing but they were leading up to where i ended up being spiritually and in fact i had to go back after i finished writing the book and write what i've learned from those experiences but didn't know ethan certainly when i was experiencing them but didn't know when i was writing it until i got to the end of my book and then i began to realize that i was actually i've wouldn't say
just that i was a very spiritual person and i have very strong beliefs that i believe in transcendence and i believe that we all can be in touch with the divine. i believe that love is the most important thing in our lives and it trumps everything. my husband was in a study at harvard called the grand study and they took four classes. they would write their marriages, their relationships, their jobs, their hope for all of that and most of them are dead now. george, who did the study, wrote a book several years ago and said i came to the conclusion after studying these guys are
80, 90 years -- he wasn't that old ben -- but there's only one thing that led to happiness for all of them and that was love. and that is one of the things i learned about myself, that love is the most important thing in my life, far more than my career and that is what gives my life meaning. i believe in mystery and that so many people are looking for happiness and going about it in the wrong way. there's all these books about how to be happy in this project but i think that they are going about it in the wrong way because people look for happiness in order to find meaning when in fact we should look for meaning in our lives which would lead to being happy and that is ultimately i am a
really happy person and even though i lost the love of my life and the hardest thing i've ever gone through is losing him, i feel like i am a happy person because i had him in my life and i had that love and i would certainly like to have it again but that is something that is such a gift i can't believe i was so lucky to have quinn and his love, so when i talk about magic and calling the box magic, it's all of those little incidences of things i did all through my life that led to ultimately finding meaning by taking care of ben and what i call then finding magic.
we went to the doctor and he asked them to leave the room with the nurse to be checked in and said i'm putting him in a scare and i said why? he said he is dying and i said but how do you know that i've been doing this a long time. we didn't tell ben he was a scare we just said the nurse is coming to check on him time to
time. so that was two months before mike said four months but is only two months is he just drifted away and during that time, the last few days, during his life i felt i could feel them going and wanting to be with him and i could feel but i could feel something supporting me because i stayed in the bed with him predates. i held his hand the whole time and i never got out of bed except to go the bathroom and i would say ben, do not die now. i'm going to the bathroom and don't die. so there was a moment, bob and also for the first time to come and see been before he drifted into unconsciousness and they came to the bedside and then was there and they walked up and i said ben, bob and elsa are --
bob woodward, he sat up and said yay. [laughter] i don't know where that came from but so they stayed for a few minutes and then been left and i could see his eyes drooped and i said to him i love you ben and he said me too, babe and then he closed his eyes and he never gained consciousness again but when i got up for the next two days to go the bathroom he would go like this because i had his hand in my handle time and keep his hand like that and like it came back. our anniversary was october 20 and i said to him at this point he lost consciousness and i said you cannot die on our anniversary. you just can't. he waited until the 21st and then he died. during that time i felt so embraced and so full of love and i mean, i just felt like i was
levitating. first i felt terribly sad and i felt full of grease in some way but i also felt truly loved and i said in the book there was god in that room last night and at night when he died and i don't know what i mean by god and when i've interviewed people of years of always said what is got to you and everyone has a different idea and god was love but then i felt like god or something bigger that help me get through his death. >> questions. the moment. >> [inaudible] he always seemed
like he had a joke upon his lips. he always had a great sense of humor and was that at home. >> he left a lot and was very funny. we had a fabulous time together and we had a fabulous -- tell them what you said the night, the week before he died when you pick him up the shower. >> can i tell them that? >> this will be on c-span i took him up for a shower and i had to get in the shower with him and nine because he would fall and slip and didn't know what to do and so i got him washed off and out of the shower and i was drying him on and i accidentally hit his private part and he looked at me and since i was going and he said out and i said oh, i'm so sorry and he said listen, if you hit my balls one more time this party is over.
[laughter] i will never forget that. he never never forgot who i was and he always knew i was until the very end and who quinn was and all of the people who were close to him. that was a blessing. i can't tell you how lucky i was because people with dementia and so many of them drift away but i met -- ben was always there until the end. >> one more, to more. >> [inaudible] >> on the trip around the world i saw a lot of different religions and what i did was cherry pick what i liked about each religion because there was
something about each religion, each base that appealed to me and there were some things that i really cannot stand about it. one of the things i did not like was the role that women play in religion and organized religion. particularly there were rituals that i really loved and i do find, although the chanting and the prayers that gives things people a sense of being transcendent. ben's funeral was at national cathedral and there were 3000 people there, bob spoke and i think it was one of the most transcendent moment i've ever had. it was high church and it was all the beautiful hymns and national cathedral is gorgeous with those beautiful sunlight
streaming in through the window and i go to young for in the synagogue every year and i will occasionally go to a mosque or go to rituals of other faiths and i like certain things about other faiths and i don't like the rigidity of them. i don't believe a lot of the words and i don't believe for instance that jesus is the son of god. i think jesus is a great profit. i think that is an incredible story but talking about magic if you believe all religion is magic the way i do then you look at the stories are organized or jesus walking on water or jesus rising from the dead or whatever or mohammed going up to the sky
on a silver horse and you look at all of us things and you say those are people's ways of getting into the night and those are the things they give people comfort and solace and that works for them than that is great. i have no problem with any religion as long as it doesn't hurt anybody. >> one more question. >> [inaudible] >> well, i told quinn when he was old enough to go to my parents and they were outraged that i was an atheist, at least my father was. they gave him his religious education and they use to read little bible stories to him all the time which i thought was fine. i want him to be exposed to as much as he possibly can. when he asked me about it i said to him i found it hard to believe in god but i said i feel that people are lucky if they can because they get a great deal of comfort out of their
faith. if you can and that is great and if you can't that's also fine. i interviewed him for my website about ten years ago and i asked him what he believed and he said he believed in god and he made them feel safe and secure to know there was someone up there who loved him and cared about him. i said do you think that i did the wrong thing by telling you that i was an atheist and he said no, i think is great because he told you the truth and you tell me what you believe and you also told me he wanted me to find my own faith and find my own faith and that was the greatest gift you could give me. >> okay -- are being -- >> sally, when you interviewed not too long ago you were asked what you would want on your epitaph and you said you would call me back in a couple weeks and you can tell me and he said no, no, i know right now.
>> yeah, et cetera my epitaph or on my gravestone i would like it to read good mother, good wife, good daughter, good friend and the guy said well, that's the fastest everyone has come up with anything. i never thought about it before and most people talk about their careers or something like that but about a couple of weeks ago i decided i change my mind. [laughter] i decided i wanted my epitaph to read she was never boring. [laughter] >> that is true spirit that is true. thank you very much. [applause]