Media Kit > Interview Questions for ExtraOrdinary


ExtraOrdinary: An End of Life Story Without End

Michele Tamaren and Michael Wittner; Pearlsong Press-June, 2012

ExtraOrdinary: An End of Life Story Without End is a spiritual memoir about love and compassion that even death did not destroy. Herman Liss, Michele’s beloved step-dad, became a healer and a teacher in his nineties as his life was coming to completion. Together Herman, his family, friends, caregivers, and a teenage boy learned that it is one’s own heart that makes the ordinary extraordinary.

Michael Wittner, co-author of ExtraOrdinary and eighty years Herman’s junior, was Herman’s young volunteer. Just months before Herman’s passing, Michael created a film about Herman’s life that went on to win state and regional awards.

1. The first word of the title is pronounced Extra Ordinary. Herman thought of himself as an ordinary man. In the preface Michele and Michael ask, “An Ordinary Man? You decide.” How was Herman both ordinary and extraordinary?

2. Herman and Michele’s mother married on Herman’s 65th   birthday. Betty was 55. Their marriage lasted for twenty-eight years until Betty’s passing. As Betty grew increasingly ill, Herman’s love only deepened. Michele said during an excruciating day toward the end of Betty’s life. “It hit me. It’s easy to love when there’s health and good fortune. What’s not so easy is to love when your heart is breaking.” What does this mean to you?

3. Faith and fate play a huge role throughout the book. Can you talk about the nexus of the two?

4. When Michael met Herman it was because of a school service learning assignment that was to last only one session, yet he decided to return. Something about Herman drew him back once a week for the rest of Herman’s life, another full year. What was it about Herman that inspired this special connection?

5. In ExtraOrdinary, a multitude of healing elements are at play. Touch, prayer, memory, deep listening, and presence are just a few. How do these and others modalities help create a sense of peace and wellbeing?

6. Community, a feeling of connection and belonging, was an essential component of the book. Family, friends, religious affiliation, and relationship to caregivers were pivotal to the essence of the story. How did Herman and the community influence each other?

7. Michele describes “friends who become family.” Research tells us that deep friendships enhance our lives and our health. How did friends help to sustain you during this difficult time?

8. On page 215 there is a list of The Twelve Never Ending Truths of Herman Liss. How are these truths both universal and individual?

9. Herman described happiness as “Appreciating all of the good in your own life and helping to make life good for others.” How did this philosophy guide Herman even at the end of his life?

10. Publishers Weekly, said of Herman, “He always encouraged others to follow their dreams and was deeply committed to treat others as he wished to be treated. Readers can expect tears to flow as Herman’s life inspires them to be better.” What do you believe it means to be better?