Fiona Whelan Prine spent 32 years of her life with the beloved and timeless John Prine, and the widow talked for the first time since the passing of the Americana and Country Music singer-songwriter with “CBS This Morning” on June 10. She sat virtually, laptop to laptop, speaking with co-anchor, Anthony Mason, about the upcoming cyber concert tribute to her husband, debuting this evening, (June 11) at 6:30 PM CST on John Prine's YouTube, Facebook, and Twitch channels.

As much as the reflection and effort poured into “Picture Show: A Tribute Celebrating John Prine” has been a labor of love, Fiona Whelan Prine also confesses that the collaborative endeavor has been “difficult,” despite the support from a full gallery of friends through the decades.

John and Fiona celebrated their own “immediate connection” from their first meeting in 1988, and the pair shared the trials and triumphs of life together right up until John Prine's last breath. The coronavirus pandemic robbed the earthly life of this sublime and spirited artist, and the pursuing health restrictions robbed many from offering him the farewell that he deserved.

It was Fiona Whelan Prine who took the first family pandemic punch

A spring concert tour in Europe was nothing unusual for John Prine or Fiona Whelan Prine. One of the “Sam Stone” composer’s favorite facts to mention was that “I haven't had an empty seat” since Roger Ebert's 1970 review of his show after walking out of the movie he was sent to review.

John Prine had a knack for more than just an insightful song-- he never forgot to be grateful for any blessing.

By mid-March, Fiona shared on social media that she had contracted COVID-19. By March 30, however, she conveyed that she had recovered. “The day I got out of quarantine,” reflected the wife on “CBS This Morning,” “John began to show serious symptoms.” Her heartbreak was penetrated through the screen as she described having to leave her husband at the ER.

“I had never not been with him through an illness,” Fiona Whelan Prine fervently declared. She was no stranger to seeing her husband through dark times. Through two bouts of cancer, she had steadfastly been his strength, buoying his optimistic nature. John described the last surgery that spared his life and took the tumor near his neck in 2018, leaving him with a head-tilt that seemed only to make it easier for him to rest on the shoulders of buddies like Jason Isbell, who will perform “Hello In There as his offering in the concert.

Nothing was left unsaid for Fiona Whelan Prine

A call came on April 6 that Fiona Whelan Prine never wanted to receive, and yet, in its own way, returned a blessing. “You need to come now…” spoke the doctor in the dreaded directive. It was the couple's wedding anniversary and John Prine's 13th day in ICU, but no luck lay in the fateful numerals. Still, there was something divine in their final 17 hours.

“He was unconscious, but I talked to him,” Fiona elaborates. “I got to tell him everything I ever wanted to say.”

Like so many families stricken by COVID-19, John and Fiona’s grown sons, Tommy, Jack, and Jodie never got to speak final words or share moments in person with their father. Nonetheless, Fiona Whelan Prine reassures that “he was proud of them” of her husband.

“If they’d never got off the sofa, he was proud of them,” she reflected in another appreciation of blessing.

A stellar lineup of friends will celebrate with Fiona Whelan Prine and her speedy life partner

Fiona agrees that arranging this long-awaited tribute to her husband has been “a great distraction” but she knows that grief takes a long time. When Anthony Mason asks how she's doing, Whelan Prine responds to the “CBS This Morning” co-host by saying that she is in “uncharted territory” after more than three decades with the husband, the father, the man and the artist that she never parted from through any struggle.

She confesses that when someone calls with a “How are you?” She often encounters with “I was hoping you'd tell me…”

Hurt and loss remain raw and still at surface-level for Fiona Whelan Prine, but so do her memories of mischief and humor from her husband.

John Prine was enjoying a resurgent artistic renaissance just before his death. He received a Grammy award for lifetime achievement and was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. He flashed his spit-fire sense of wit in his acceptance speech, noting the feeling of “having a killer song in your pocket and you're the only one who's heard it.”

The Tennessean reported on the multitude of artists who have loved and heard the massive catalog of John Prine songs on June 8. Kacey Musgraves will be performing her own original song to John Prine, while Bonnie Raitt will sing Prine’s “Angel From Montgomery.” Margo Price, Eric Church, and Bill Murray are also on the bill, along with Fiona Whelan Prine and Vince Gill among many more.

Stephen Colbert will certainly share his story of learning his wife's favorite John Prine song on guitar to initiate their courting. There isn't much about life, love, or the perplexities of life that John Prine didn't probe in his life of songs. Fiona Whelan Prine revealed one of her late husband’s purchases that might perplex some fans.

After a rush of accomplishment, including selling out Radio City Music Hall, John Prine was thrilled to buy a Porsche 911, “that neither one of us could get into,” reports Fiona. The 73-year-old who kept a Christmas tree up all year long and seemed so grateful for the simple life delighted in simply having the prized car in the garage.

In his last album, the Grammy-nominated “Tree Of Forgiveness,” John Prine extols his afterlife adventures in the song, “When I Get to Heaven.” After his promise to shake God’s hand “and thank him for more blessings than one man can stand,” the songwriter recounts a pledge to start a rock 'n roll band, kiss pretty girls, and savor vodka and ginger ale along with a 9-mile cigarette.

No matter how John Prine celebrates the afterlife, Fiona Whelan Prine is a blessing to be cherished on earth and in eternity. The legacy of love, humor, inexhaustible spirit, and let's not forget the fancy car, will keep her and all who loved him resilient until a celestial reunion.

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