This book was an enjoyable variation to my usual book fare, in that it was written more recently, (if 1997 can be considered recent.) “Tuesdays with Morrie” is subtitled: “an old man, a young man and life’s greatest lesson.” I found it at a neighborhood yard sale, for only $1.00 during one of our recent visits to Savannah GA. If you have never been to Savannah, please put in on your life list of “Cities to visit.” It is a wonderful place to go, (and plan to visit yard sales, on Saturday morning….you’ll have a blast! In fact, at the same sale, I purchased a Thomas Kincaid beautifully framed collector’s set of prints, for only $5.00.)
As simply as I can put it, this book is a labor of love of the author, to honor his favorite professor in college, Morrie Schwartz, whom he has discovered is in the later stages of ALS. Mitch decided to reconnect with him after seeing him on television. Morrie was being interviewed, by Ted Koppel, on ABC’s “Nightline.” Mitch, soon after, made the trip of over a thousand miles, to visit with his old mentor. This became a series of visits, always on a Tuesday, that was in a sense picking up where the teacher and student left off over 16 years prior. It is a very pleasant book, as the author very appropriately inserts flashback passages to remind us of their relationship in in the ’70s, to contrast his current visits with Morrie. Here is a photo I found on another website, not quite sure of the original source, but it depicts Morrie and Mitch, during one of their visits.
The book is mainly a book of the wisdom of Morrie, on a variety of topics, such as; the world, regrets, family, religion, emotion, marriage, forgiveness, and several others. One passage that comes to mind, is their discussion about death, which occurred during their fourth Tuesday visit:
Everyone knows they’re going to die, ” he said again, “but nobody believes it. If we did, we would do things differently.”
So we kid ourselves about death, I said.
“”Yes. But there’s a better approach. To know you’re going to die and to be prepared for it at any time. That’s better. That way you can actually be more involved in your life while you’re living.
How can you ever be prepared to die?
“Do what the Buddhists do. Every day, have a little bird on your shoulder that asks, ‘Is today the day? Am I ready? Am I doing all I need to do? Am I being the person I want to be?'”
The thought that the passage ultimately comes to, is summed up by Morrie, “Once you learn how to die, you learn how to live.”
Morrie was born Jewish, but became an agnostic in his teens. He enjoyed the philosophies of Buddhism and Christianity. Mitch says, in his final months, he seemed to transcend all religious differences, as death has a way of doing this.
One feature of the book that meant a great deal to me, was how Mitch related the progression of this dreadful disease. My cousin Allen, (Richard Allen Lake II) also died of ALS, just last year. We were best friends growing up, but like Mitch and Morrie, over the years we lost contact. We spoke occasionally, and it was always wonderful, but our lives went separate. When he passed away, I felt the loss, wishing I could have spent more time with him. Here he is during our best friend days, 40 plus years ago:
In a way, Mitch’s time with Morrie, became a little like I could imagine my time would have been with Allen. Allen was one of the smartest guys I have ever known. He really cared for others, and was a wonderful husband and a good father to his boys. They took care of him during his last months. They were good sons.
I have to say thank you to Mitch Albom, for giving me a chance to spend some memory time with my cousin Allen as well. In a way, I know him better too.
I hope that Morrie Schwartz came to know Christ. That was the one thing that really wasn’t clear in “Tuesday’s with Morrie.” I know my cousin Allen knew Him, in one of our last conversations, we talked at length about God, and knowing Jesus. I am glad that I know Christ. I hope you do was well, and that you are growing to love Him more and more every day.
Please read “Tuesdays With Morrie.” You will certainly enjoy it.