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"Nora Ephron, the essayist, novelist, screenwriter and film director, died Tuesday night in Manhattan. She was 71, and suffered from leukemia.

Fresh Air's Dave Davies spoke to Ephron in 2006, when she published a collection of essays about the challenges of getting older called I Feel Bad About My Neck. The interview aired on the program Radio Times at WHYY.”

My favorite part of the interview:

DAVIES: There’s a fairly serious part of the book where you talk about how, you know, there are funny things about this, like losing your glasses. But it really is hard when you see, as you put it, long shadows all around and folks around you passing away. Do you have a sense of yourself over the next 20 years? I mean, you’ve certainly got an active career now.

EPHRON: You absolutely don’t know. The next 20 years, we’re talking about 85. This is just a crapshoot. This is a lottery. Who knows? So I feel - I don’t think about the next 20 years. I think about today. So today, I have already been to a bakery. This is the thing that I’m obsessed with, is carbohydrates.

I feel that I’m now living in an age where there’s the best bread we have ever had in the history of the world. There has never been more bread that is good out there. So it seems to me a shame not to eat some of it, even if - and this is one of the terrible dilemmas of old age. You know, do you save all your money as if you’re going to live till you’re 90, or do you spend it all because you might die tomorrow?

Do you diet like a fanatic in the hopes that it’s going to buy you a couple of extra years, or is it going to have nothing to do - are you going to be hit by a bus, and your last thought will be: I should have had that donut?

(LAUGHTER)

EPHRON: And it’s very confusing to know what to do, but I’m coming down on the donut side.

DAVIES: Yeah.

EPHRON: So I feel that, you know, that’s one of the things - I’m not so into 20 years. I’m kind of into: Is this meal I’m having something I really want to have? And if someone says to me let’s go somewhere and it’s not good, I say let’s not. Let’s not, because I have a finite number of meals ahead of me, and they are all going to be good.

And I think when you’re surrounded by that culture where you’re trying to change the world or putting a man on the moon or trying to defeat communism, you know, for a kid that can be confusing because you can think, wow, I’ve got to do something like that as well. And I definitely had those thoughts. But I think as I look more and more at my father and as he died, I realized that to be good is often harder to do than it is to be great. And that’s what my dad did incredibly well and that’s what I hope some of the lessons I’ve learned from him will be helpful not just to me but to others who are struggling with this dilemma of whether to be great or to be good.

Mark Shriver, during a recent interview on NPR

Shriver is the Senior Vice President of Save the Children and author of the memoir A Good Man: Rediscovering My Father, Sargent Shriver, 

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