Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

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Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom Tuesdays with Morrie (London: Time Warner Paperbacks, 2002) by Mitch Albom tells a true story of Brandeis University sociology professor, title personage Morris Schwartz and his relationship with his student, Albom. In this book, Albom sweeps you away with a documentary of what he learned from his dying professor about life’s biggest questions. This books is more than a dying man’s last words, it is an inspirational recount on a man whose passion for the human spirit has continued to live long after his last breath.

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Tuesdays with Morrie only came about after Albom, by chance, saw his old professor on television being interviewed by Ted Koppel on ABC’s Nightline on how it is like to be dying of ALS, or more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Immediately, he recalled the last time he met his old professor, sixteen years ago. As a young man graduating from Brandeis University, he made promises easily. Keeping them was another story. "You'll stay in touch?” Morrie asked him on graduation day in 1979. Mitch answered his favorite professor, his mentor, his friend, without hesitation, "Of course." (4). Little did he know how different his life will be at present.

“The years after graduation hardened me into someone quite different from the strutting graduate who left campus…” (14)

Mitch has settled in Detroit and become a successful newspaper sports columnist and broadcast journalist for the Detroit Free Press, adept at juggling phone calls, faxes, interviews, problems, often it seems while driving too fast to another appointment on an overloaded docket, Mitch has a wonderful wife but no time to spend with her, a beautiful house on a hill, a stock portfolio, and a brother he hasn't talked to in years. Albom was surprised and saddened to learn that Morrie was dying and quickly got in touch with his old professor.

A few weeks later, Albom's newspaper goes on strike, and he is out of a job. Left with too much time on his hands and too many unsettling thoughts in his head, he returns to Massachusetts to see Morrie. What started as a reunion of old friends turned into the project of a lifetime. Albom and Morrie subsequently spent the next fourteen Tuesdays together talking and exploring about life’s important things – Death, Fear, Aging, Greed, Marriage, Family, Society and Forgiveness. Albom even made a list of those things to get clarity from Morrie. A professor of Sociology for many years, Morrie begins again to educate Album, in what he calls his “final thesis.” Through his short aphorisms and loving personality, Morrie becomes somewhat of a father or grandfather figure to Albom. Albom tape records his discussions with Morrie so that he may compile notes with which to write a book, Tuesdays with Morrie, a project which he and Morrie refer to as their "final thesis." (191). Morrie continually tells Albom that he wants to share his stories with the world; the book will allow him to do just that.

Albom began to have a better and clearer view on life. As the final pages grow thinner so does Albom himself understands that his time with Morrie as well as Morrie’s time on Earth will quickly pass by. Finally, Morrie died on a Saturday and every one of his family members made it to his funeral. Shortly after Morrie’s death, Albom reconnects with his brother, Peter, whom he has never talked to in years.

The first thing I noticed about this book after reading it was how Albom moved back and forth through time by inserting flashbacks. These flashbacks tell of Albom and Morrie’s time together at Brandeis; some quotes from famous people and Morrie’s favourite pet, W.H Auden; and bits and pieces of meaningful conversation during their meetings on Tuesdays. Some of these flashbacks touched me in a heart-warming way, such as an incident when Albom asked MopiD abou pe)ncarnation and what would Morrie come back as, he answered “A gazelle,” due to his immobile state during that discussion: “I study his shrunken frame, the loose clothes, the socks-wrapped feet that rest stiffly on foam rubber cushions, unable to move, like a prisoner in leg irons. I picture a gazelle racing across the dessert.” (108). I felt strongly after reading this as I could not imagine how suffering it is to stay in bed every day waiting for death to strike, and a dying man’s wish to reincarnate as a free gazelle touched me very much. The flashbacks that are interspersed between chapters show a lot of emotional, fond memories Albom and Morrie shared that will touch even the reader.

I was also impressed by how Morrie’s wisdom taps into life’s biggest questions with such clarity and understanding. He has led a very simple life that inspires everyone to live their life to the fullest. In one incident, Mitch asked Morrie what he would do if he had a perfectly healthy day, and Morrie’s reply was of lovely breakfasts, swimming, friends coming over for a lunch, walks in a garden, dancing during dinner, and finally, a deep wonderful sleep. “After all these months, lying there, unable to move a leg or a foot – how could he find perfection in such an average day? Then I realized this was the whole point.” (176). Albom then understands how an average day of enjoying things and the company of people you love most would be very well perfect – not “fly to Italy or have lunch with the President or romp on the seashore or try every exotic thing he could think of.” (176). Morrie’s understanding of death was also powerful: “As long as we can love each other, and remember the feeling of love we had, we can die without ever really going away.” (174). True enough, Morrie lives on in the hearts of his family and friends, and now, in the people who read this book, long after his death. Morrie embraced life and death with bravery and compassion it is as though he is sent by a greater force to help guide lost souls.

Morrie’s sickness had such a big impact on people, I felt moved by how they reacted and gravitated toward Morrie and his shrunken frame. Morrie himself was ever changing his views on things until his dying day. He changed from being unable to accept the fact that his time is limited to accepting his death and spending every precious minute of his time left with the people that he loved. The impact of Morrie’s sickness also affected Albom and brought him from his busy life in Detroit to Morrie’s study room every Tuesday to enlighten and bring real meaning to his life. Even Ted Koppel, the stoic anchor of ABC-TV’s Nightline was treating Morrie differently as interviews for his programme went on: “Koppel now referred to Morrie as “a friend.” My old professor had even coaxed compassion out of the television business.” (160).
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