Tuesdays with Morrie: An Old Man, a Young Man, and Life's Greatest Lesson

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Overview

A classic from the author of The First Phone Call from Heaven

Maybe it was a grandparent, or a teacher, or a colleague. Someone older, patient and wise, who understood you when you were young and searching, helped you see the world as a more profound place, gave you sound advice to help you make your way through it.

For Mitch Albom, that person was Morrie Schwartz, his ...

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Overview

A classic from the author of The First Phone Call from Heaven

Maybe it was a grandparent, or a teacher, or a colleague. Someone older, patient and wise, who understood you when you were young and searching, helped you see the world as a more profound place, gave you sound advice to help you make your way through it.

For Mitch Albom, that person was Morrie Schwartz, his college professor from nearly twenty years ago.

Maybe, like Mitch, you lost track of this mentor as you made your way, and the insights faded, and the world seemed colder. Wouldn't you like to see that person again, ask the bigger questions that still haunt you, receive wisdom for your busy life today the way you once did when you were younger?

Mitch Albom had that second chance. He rediscovered Morrie in the last months of the older man's life. Knowing he was dying, Morrie visited with Mitch in his study every Tuesday, just as they used to back in college. Their rekindled relationship turned into one final “class”: lessons in how to live.

Tuesdays with Morrie is a magical chronicle of their time together, through which Mitch shares Morrie's lasting gift with the world.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Most of us, at some point in our schooling, have had a teacher who had a major impact on our thinking and the way we've lived our lives. What a treat would it be now, all these years later, to reacquaint ourselves with that treasure advisor, to learn again those lessons he or she shared when we were young. Mitch Albom was given that opportunity. He spent several months regularly visiting his college professor, Morrie Schwartz, during the elder man's final year of life. Tuesdays with Morrie is Albom's best-selling tribute to the man who gave him so much.
Kirkus Reviews
Award-winning sportswriter Albom was a student at Brandeis University, some two decades ago, of sociologist Morrie Schwartz. Here Albom recounts how, recently, as the old man was dying, he renewed his warm relationship with his revered mentor.

This is the vivid record of the teacher's battle with muscle-wasting amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease. The dying man, largely because of his life-affirming attitude toward his death-dealing illness, became a sort of thanatopic guru, and was the subject of three Ted Koppel interviews on 'Nightline.' That was how the author first learned of Morrie's condition. Albom well fulfilled the age-old obligation to visit the sick. He calls his weekly visits to his teacher his last class, and the present book a term paper. The subject: The Meaning of Life. Unfortunately, but surely not surprisingly, those relying on this text will not actually learn The Meaning of Life here. Albom does not present a full transcript of the regular Tuesday talks. Rather, he expands a little on the professor's aphorisms, which are, to be sure, unassailable. 'Love is the only rational act,' Morrie said. 'Love each other or perish,' he warned, quoting Auden. Albom learned well the teaching that 'death ends a life, not a relationship.' The love between the old man and the younger one is manifest.

This book, small and easily digested, stopping just short of the maudlin and the mawkish, is on the whole sincere, sentimental, and skillful. (The substantial costs of Morrie's last illness, Albom tells us, were partly defrayed by the publisher's advance). Place it under the heading 'Inspirational.'

'Death,' said Morrie, 'is as natural as life. It's partof the deal we made.' If that is so (and it's not a notion quickly gainsaid), this book could well have been called 'The Art of the Deal.'

From the Publisher
Praise for Tuesdays with Morrie, the timeless classic, by the author of The First Phone Call from Heaven

“Mitch Albom’s book is a gift to mankind.” Philadelphia Inquirer

“A wonderful book, a story of the heart told by a writer with soul.” Los Angeles Times

“An extraordinary contribution to the literature of death.” Boston Globe

“One of those books that kind of sneaked up and grabbed people's hearts over time.” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

“An elegantly simple story about a writer getting a second chance to discover life through the death of a friend.” Tampa Tribune

“As sweet and nourishing as fresh summer corn . . . the book begs to be read aloud.” USA Today

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
As a student at Brandeis University in the late 1970s, Albom was especially drawn to his sociology professor, Morris Schwartz. On graduation he vowed to keep in touch with him, which he failed to do until 1994, when he saw a segment about Schwartz on the TV program Nightline, and learned that he had just been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease. By then a sports columnist for the Detroit Free Press and author of six books, including Fab Five, Albom was idled by the newspaper strike in the Motor City and so had the opportunity to visit Schwartz in Boston every week until the older man died. Their dialogue is the subject of this moving book in which Schwartz discourses on life, self-pity, regrets, aging, love and death, offering aphorisms about each e.g., "After you have wept and grieved for your physical losses, cherish the functions and the life you have left." Far from being awash in sentiment, the dying man retains a firm grasp on reality. An emotionally rich book and a deeply affecting memorial to a wise mentor, who was 79 when he died in 1995.
Children's Literature - Jan Lieberman
Morrie Schwartz was Mitch Albom's professor at Brandeis University twenty years ago. Now Morrie has ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) and Mitch reestablishes his close relationship with his favorite professor. Every Tuesday for a period of three months, Mitch talks with Morrie, recording their conversations. Yes, you will shed some tears but this is not a depressing story for Morrie teaches us how to live. Death awaits us all, but it is what we do with our lives that is at the heart of this book. Dip into Morrie's philosophy. I guarantee that you will be enriched by this experience. It is a life-affirming story, a celebration of the human spirit.
Jim Bencivenga
What keeps this uplifting book from being maudlin is Albom's crisp writing and Schwartz's generous heart.
The Christian Science Monitor
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780767905923
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/8/2002
  • Edition description: 10th-Anniversary Edition
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 12,162
  • Product dimensions: 4.90 (w) x 7.20 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Mitch  Albom

MITCH ALBOM is the author of The New York Times bestseller, The First Phone Call From Heaven as well as six previous books. A nationally syndicated columnist for the Detroit Free Press and a nationally syndicated radio host for ABC and WJR-AM, Albom has, for more than a decade, been named top sports columnist in the nation by the Sports Editors of America, the highest honor in the field. A panelist on ESPN’s Sports Reporters, Albom also regularly serves as a commentator for that network. He serves on numerous charitable boards and has founded two charities in metropolitan Detroit: The Dream Fund, which helps underprivileged youth study the arts, and A Time to Help, a monthly volunteer program. He lives with his wife, Janine, in Michigan.

Biography

You might call Mitch Albom a jock-of-all-trades. Before becoming one of America's most beloved sport commentators and columnists, Albom was an amateur boxer, a nightclub singer and pianist, and a stand-up comedian. He is a nationally syndicated fixture of radio and print, and has been featured as an analyst on ESPN. He has covered college football and college basketball in two successful nonfiction books, and the best of his articles have been collected in a series of anthologies called Live Albom. However, what catapulted Albom into the literary limelight was the mega-selling 1997 memoir, Tuesdays with Morrie, his first book to sidestep sports altogether..

Tuesdays... is a moving account of Albom's reconnection with his old Brandeis professor and college mentor, Morrie Schwartz. After learning Schwartz had been stricken with Lou Gehrig's disease, Albom sought him out in Boston, and throughout a long, harrowing year, they spent every Tuesday together. As he faced his inevitable death, Schwartz shared a lifetime of memories, regrets, fears, and philosophical insights with his former student. A story that could easily have toppled into maudlin sentimentality, the memoir succeeded in large part because of Albom's skillful writing. Published in 30 languages in 34 countries, the book remains an international bestseller.

In 2003, Albom forayed into fiction with The Five People You Meet in Heaven, the emotionally resonant story of an old man who dies, convinced his life has had no meaning -- only to discover that nothing could be further from the truth. It, too, scored a huge success for the author – as did his followup novel, For One Day More.

Good To Know

The Oprah Winfrey-produced version of Tuesdays with Morrie, starring Jack Lemmon and Hank Azaria, won 4 Emmy Awards and was the most-watched TV movie of 1999.

Before Albom was a household name, he was known on the comedy circuit as the warm-up act for Gabe "Welcome Back Kotter" Kaplan.

Albom is an enthusiastic philanthropist, having founded two charitable programs, the Dream Fund and A Time to Help.

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    1. Hometown:
      Franklin, Michigan
    1. Date of Birth:
      May 23, 1958
    2. Place of Birth:
      Passaic, New Jersey
    1. Education:
      B.A., Brandeis University, 1979; M.J., Columbia University, 1981; M.B.A., Columbia University, 1982

Read an Excerpt

The Curriculum

The last class of my old professor's life took place once a week in his house, by a window in the study where he could watch a small hibiscus plant shed its pink leaves.  The class met on Tuesdays. It began after breakfast. The subject was The Meaning of Life. It was taught from experience.  

No grades were given, but there were oral exams each week. You were expected to respond to questions, and you were expected to pose questions of your own. You were also required to perform physical tasks now and then, such as lifting the professor's head to a comfortable spot on the pillow or placing his glasses on the bridge of his nose. Kissing him good-bye earned you extra credit.  

No books were required, yet many topics were covered, including love, work, community, family, aging, forgiveness, and, finally, death. The last lecture was brief, only a few words.  

A funeral was held in lieu of graduation.  

Although no final exam was given, you were expected to produce one long paper on what was learned. That paper is presented here.  

The last class of my old professor's life had only one student.

I was the student.

It is the late spring of 1979, a hot, sticky Saturday afternoon. Hundreds of us sit together, side by side, in rows of wooden folding chairs on the main campus lawn. We wear blue nylon robes. We listen impatiently to long speeches. When the ceremony is over, we throw our caps in the air, and we are officially graduated from college, the senior class of Brandeis University in the city of Waltham, Massachusetts. For many of us, the curtain has just come down on childhood.  

Afterward, I find Morrie Schwartz, my favorite professor, and introduce him to my parents. He is a small man who takes small steps, as if a strong wind could, at any time, whisk him up into the clouds. In his graduation day robe, he looks like a cross between a biblical prophet and a Christmas elf. He has sparkling blue-green eyes, thinning silver hair that spills onto his forehead, big ears, a triangular nose, and tufts of graying eyebrows. Although his teeth are crooked and his lower ones are slanted back—as if someone had once punched them in—when he smiles it's as if you'd just told him the first joke on earth.  

He tells my parents how I took every class he taught.  He tells them, "You have a special boy here."  Embarrassed, I look at my feet. Before we leave, I hand my professor a present, a tan briefcase with his initials on the front. I bought this the day before at a shopping mall.  I didn't want to forget him. Maybe I didn't want him to forget me.  

    "Mitch, you are one of the good ones," he says, admiring the briefcase. Then he hugs me. I feel his thin arms around my back. I am taller than he is, and when he holds me, I feel awkward, older, as if I were the parent and he were the child.  

He asks if I will stay in touch, and without hesitation I say, "Of course."  

When he steps back, I see that he is crying.

The Syllabus

His death sentence came in the summer of 1994. Looking back, Morrie knew something bad was coming long before that. He knew it the day he gave up dancing.  

He had always been a dancer, my old professor. The music didn't matter. Rock and roll, big band, the blues. He loved them all. He would close his eyes and with a blissful smile begin to move to his own sense of rhythm. It wasn't always pretty. But then, he didn't worry about a partner.  Morrie danced by himself.  

He used to go to this church in Harvard Square every Wednesday night for something called "Dance Free."  They had flashing lights and booming speakers and Morrie would wander in among the mostly student crowd, wearing a white T-shirt and black sweatpants and a towel around his neck, and whatever music was playing, that's the music to which he danced. He'd do the lindy to Jimi Hendrix. He twisted and twirled, he waved his arms like a conductor on amphetamines, until sweat was dripping down the middle of his back. No one there knew he was a prominent doctor of sociology, with years of experience as a college professor and several well-respected books.  They just thought he was some old nut.  

Once, he brought a tango tape and got them to play it over the speakers. Then he commandeered the floor, shooting back and forth like some hot Latin lover. When he finished, everyone applauded. He could have stayed in that moment forever.  

But then the dancing stopped.  

He developed asthma in his sixties. His breathing became labored. One day he was walking along the Charles River, and a cold burst of wind left him choking for air. He was rushed to the hospital and injected with Adrenalin.  

A few years later, he began to have trouble walking.  At a birthday party for a friend, he stumbled inexplicably.  Another night, he fell down the steps of a theater, startling a small crowd of people.  

    "Give him air!" someone yelled.  

He was in his seventies by this point, so they whispered "old age" and helped him to his feet. But Morrie, who was always more in touch with his insides than the rest of us, knew something else was wrong. This was more than old age. He was weary all the time. He had trouble sleeping. He dreamt he was dying.  

He began to see doctors. Lots of them. They tested his blood. They tested his urine. They put a scope up his rear end and looked inside his intestines. Finally, when nothing could be found, one doctor ordered a muscle biopsy, taking a small piece out of Morrie's calf. The lab report came back suggesting a neurological problem, and Morrie was brought in for yet another series of tests. In one of those tests, he sat in a special seat as they zapped him with electrical current—an electric chair, of sorts—and studied his neurological responses.  

    "We need to check this further," the doctors said, looking over his results.  

    "Why?" Morrie asked. "What is it?"  

    "We're not sure. Your times are slow."  

His times were slow? What did that mean?  

Finally, on a hot, humid day in August 1994, Morrie and his wife, Charlotte, went to the neurologist's office, and he asked them to sit before he broke the news: Morrie had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Lou Gehrig's disease, a brutal, unforgiving illness of the neurological system.  

There was no known cure.  

    "How did I get it?" Morrie asked.  

Nobody knew.  

    "Is it terminal?"  

Yes.  

    "So I'm going to die?"  

Yes, you are, the doctor said. I'm very sorry.  

He sat with Morrie and Charlotte for nearly two hours, patiently answering their questions. When they left, the doctor gave them some information on ALS, little pamphlets, as if they were opening a bank account.  Outside, the sun was shining and people were going about their business. A woman ran to put money in the parking meter. Another carried groceries. Charlotte had a million thoughts running through her mind: How much time do we have left? How will we manage? How will we pay the bills?  

My old professor, meanwhile, was stunned by the normalcy of the day around him. Shouldn't the world stop? Don't they know what has happened to me?  

But the world did not stop, it took no notice at all, and as Morrie pulled weakly on the car door, he felt as if he were dropping into a hole.  

Now what? he thought.

As my old professor searched for answers, the disease took him over, day by day, week by week. He backed the car out of the garage one morning and could barely push the brakes. That was the end of his driving.  

He kept tripping, so he purchased a cane. That was the end of his walking free.  

He went for his regular swim at the YMCA, but found he could no longer undress himself. So he hired his first home care worker—a theology student named Tony—who helped him in and out of the pool, and in and out of his bathing suit. In the locker room, the other swimmers pretended not to stare. They stared anyhow.  That was the end of his privacy.  

In the fall of 1994, Morrie came to the hilly Brandeis campus to teach his final college course. He could have skipped this, of course. The university would have understood. Why suffer in front of so many people? Stay at home. Get your affairs in order. But the idea of quitting did not occur to Morrie.  

Instead, he hobbled into the classroom, his home for more than thirty years. Because of the cane, he took a while to reach the chair. Finally, he sat down, dropped his glasses off his nose, and looked out at the young faces who stared back in silence.  

    "My friends, I assume you are all here for the Social Psychology class. I have been teaching this course for twenty years, and this is the first time I can say there is a risk in taking it, because I have a fatal illness. I may not live to finish the semester.  

    "If you feel this is a problem, I understand if you wish to drop the course."  

He smiled.  

And that was the end of his secret.

ALS is like a lit candle: it melts your nerves and leaves your body a pile of wax. Often. it begins with the legs and works its way up. You lose control of your thigh muscles, so that you cannot support yourself standing.  You lose control of your trunk muscles, so that you cannot sit up straight. By the end, if you are still alive, you are breathing through a tube in a hole in your throat, while your soul, perfectly awake, is imprisoned inside a limp husk, perhaps able to blink, or cluck a tongue, like something from a science fiction movie, the man frozen inside his own flesh. This takes no more than five years from the day you contract the disease.  

Morrie's doctors guessed he had two years left.  

Morrie knew it was less.  

But my old professor had made a profound decision, one he began to construct the day he came out of the doctor's office with a sword hanging over his head. Do I wither up and disappear, or do I make the best of my time left? he had asked himself.  

He would not wither. He would not be ashamed of dying.  

Instead, he would make death his final project, the center point of his days. Since everyone was going to die, he could be of great value, right? He could be research. A human textbook. Study me in my slow and patient demise.  Watch what happens to me. Learn with me.  

Morrie would walk that final bridge between life and death, and narrate the trip.  

The fall semester passed quickly. The pills increased.  Therapy became a regular routine. Nurses came to his house to work with Morrie's withering legs, to keep the muscles active, bending them back and forth as if pumping water from a well. Massage specialists came by once a week to try to soothe the constant, heavy stiffness he felt. He met with meditation teachers, and closed his eyes and narrowed his thoughts until his world shrunk down to a single breath, in and out, in and out.  

One day, using his cane, he stepped onto the curb and fell over into the street. The cane was exchanged for a walker. As his body weakened, the back and forth to the bathroom became too exhausting, so Morrie began to urinate into a large beaker. He had to support himself as he did this, meaning someone had to hold the beaker while Morrie filled it.  

Most of us would be embarrassed by all this, especially at Morrie's age. But Morrie was not like most of us. When some of his close colleagues would visit, he would say to them, "Listen, I have to pee. Would you mind helping? Are you okay with that?"  

Often, to their own surprise, they were.  

In fact, he entertained a growing stream of visitors. He had discussion groups about dying, what it really meant, how societies had always been afraid of it without necessarily understanding it. He told his friends that if they really wanted to help him, they would treat him not with sympathy but with visits, phone calls, a sharing of their problems—the way they had always shared their problems, because Morrie had always been a wonderful listener.  

For all that was happening to him, his voice was strong and inviting, and his mind was vibrating with a million thoughts. He was intent on proving that the word "dying" was not synonymous with "useless."  

The New Year came and went. Although he never said it to anyone, Morrie knew this would be the last year of his life. He was using a wheelchair now, and he was fighting time to say all the things he wanted to say to all the people he loved. When a colleague at Brandeis died suddenly of a heart attack, Morrie went to his funeral. He came home depressed.  

    "What a waste," he said. "All those people saying all those wonderful things, and Irv never got to hear any of it."  

Morrie had a better idea. He made some calls. He chose a date. And on a cold Sunday afternoon, he was joined in his home by a small group of friends and family for a "living funeral." Each of them spoke and paid tribute to my old professor. Some cried. Some laughed. One woman read a poem:

"My dear and loving cousin ...
      Your ageless heart
      as you move through time, layer on layer,
      tender sequoia ..."

Morrie cried and laughed with them. And all the heartfelt things we never get to say to those we love, Morrie said that day. His "living funeral" was a rousing success.  

Only Morrie wasn't dead yet.  

  In fact, the most unusual part of his life was about to unfold.

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Table of Contents


Acknowledgments
Chapter 1: The Curriculum
Chapter 2: The Syllabus
Chapter 3: The Student
Chapter 4: The Audiovisual
Chapter 5: The Orientation
Chapter 6: The Classroom
Chapter 7: Taking Attendance
Chapter 8: The First Tuesday: We Talk About The World
Chapter 9: The Second Tuesday: We Talk About Feeling Sorry For Yourself
Chapter 10: The Third Tuesday: We Talk About Regrets
Chapter 11: The Audiovisual: Part Two
Chapter 12: The Professor
Chapter 13: The Fourth Tuesday: We Talk About Death
Chapter 14: The Fifth Tuesday: We Talk About Family
Chapter 15: The Sixth Tuesday: We Talk About Emotions
Chapter 16: The Professor, Part Two
Chapter 17: The Seventh Tuesday: We Talk About the Fear Of Aging
Chapter 18: The Eighth Tuesday: We Talk About The Money
Chapter 19: The Ninth Tuesday: We Talk About How Love Goes On
Chapter 20: The Tenth Tuesday: We Talk About Marriage
Chapter 21: The Eleventh Tuesday: We Talk About Our Culture
Chapter 22: The Audiovisual, Part Three
Chapter 23: The Twelfth Tuesday: We Talk About Forgiveness
Chapter 24: The Thirteenth Tuesday: We Talk About The Perfect Day
Chapter 25: The Fourteenth Tuesday: We Say Good-bye
Graduation
Conclusion
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First Chapter

Chapter One

The last class of my old professor's life took place once a week in his house, by a window in the study where he could watch a small hibiscus plant shed its pink leaves. The class met on Tuesdays. It began after breakfast. The subject was The Meaning of Life. It was taught from experience.

No grades were given, but there were oral exams each week. You were expected to respond to questions, and you were expected to pose questions of your own. You were also required to perform physical tasks now and then, such as lifting the professor's head to a comfortable spot on the pillow or placing his glasses on the bridge of his nose. Kissing him good-bye earned you extra credit.

No books were required, yet many topics were covered, including love, work, community, family, aging, forgiveness, and, finally, death. The last lecture was brief, only a few words.

A funeral was held in lieu of graduation.

Although no final exam was given, you were expected to produce one long paper on what was learned. That paper is presented here.

The last class of my old professor's life had only one student.

I was the student.

It is the late spring of 1979, a hot, sticky Saturday afternoon. Hundreds of us sit together, side by side, in rows of wooden folding chairs on the main campus lawn. We wear blue nylon robes. We listen impatiently to long speeches. When the ceremony is over, we throw our caps in the air, and we are officially graduated from college, the senior class of Brandeis University in the city of Waltham, Massachusetts. For many of us, the curtain has just come down on childhood.

Afterward, I find Morrie Schwartz, my favorite professor, and introduce him to my parents. He is a small man who takes small steps, as if a strong wind could, at any time, whisk him up into the clouds. In his graduation day robe, he looks like a cross between a biblical prophet and a Christmas elf. He has sparkling blue-green eyes, thinning silver hair that spills onto his forehead, big ears, a triangular nose, and tufts of graying eyebrows. Although his teeth are crooked and his lower ones are slanted back--as if someone had once punched them in--when he smiles it's as if you'd just told him the first joke on earth.

He tells my parents how I took every class he taught. He tells them, "You have a special boy here." Embarrassed, I look at my feet. Before we leave, I hand my professor a present, a tan briefcase with his initials on the front. I bought this the day before at a shopping mall. I didn't want to forget him. Maybe I didn't want him to forget me.

"Mitch, you are one of the good ones," he says, admiring the briefcase. Then he hugs me. I feel his thin arms around my back. I am taller than he is, and when he holds me, I feel awkward, older, as if I were the parent and he were the child.

He asks if I will stay in touch, and without hesitation I say, "Of course."

When he steps back, I see that he is crying.

CHAPTER TWO

The Syllabus

His death sentence came in the summer of 1994. Looking back, Morrie knew something bad was coming long before that. He knew it the day he gave up dancing.

He had always been a dancer, my old professor. The music didn't matter. Rock and roll, big band, the blues. He loved them all. He would close his eyes and with a blissful smile begin to move to his own sense of rhythm. It wasn't always pretty. But then, he didn't worry about a partner. Morrie danced by himself.

He used to go to this church in Harvard Square every Wednesday night for something called "Dance Free." They had flashing lights and booming speakers and Morrie would wander in among the mostly student crowd, wearing a white T-shirt and black sweatpants and a towel around his neck, and whatever music was playing, that's the music to which he danced. He'd do the lindy to Jimi Hendrix. He twisted and twirled, he waved his arms like a conductor on amphetamines, until sweat was dripping down the middle of his back. No one there knew he was a prominent doctor of sociology, with years of experience as a college professor and several well-respected books. They just thought he was some old nut.

Once, he brought a tango tape and got them to play it over the speakers. Then he commandeered the floor, shooting back and forth like some hot Latin lover. When he finished, everyone applauded. He could have stayed in that moment forever.

But then the dancing stopped.

He developed asthma in his sixties. His breathing became labored. One day he was walking along the Charles River, and a cold burst of wind left him choking for air. He was rushed to the hospital and injected with Adrenalin.

A few years later, he began to have trouble walking. At a birthday party for a friend, he stumbled inexplicably. Another night, he fell down the steps of a theater, startling a small crowd of people.

"Give him air!" someone yelled.

He was in his seventies by this point, so they whispered "old age" and helped him to his feet. But Morrie, who was always more in touch with his insides than the rest of us, knew something else was wrong. This was more than old age. He was weary all the time. He had trouble sleeping. He dreamt he was dying.

He began to see doctors. Lots of them. They tested his blood. They tested his urine. They put a scope up his rear end and looked inside his intestines. Finally, when nothing could be found, one doctor ordered a muscle biopsy, taking a small piece out of Morrie's calf. The lab report came back suggesting a neurological problem, and Morrie was brought in for yet another series of tests. In one of those tests, he sat in a special seat as they zapped him with electrical current--an electric chair, of sorts--and studied his neurological responses.

"We need to check this further," the doctors said, looking over his results.

"Why?" Morrie asked. "What is it?"

"We're not sure. Your times are slow."

His times were slow? What did that mean?

Finally, on a hot, humid day in August 1994, Morrie and his wife, Charlotte, went to the neurologist's office, and he asked them to sit before he broke the news: Morrie had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Lou Gehrig's disease, a brutal, unforgiving illness of the neurological system.

There was no known cure.

"How did I get it?" Morrie asked.

Nobody knew.

"Is it terminal?"

Yes.

"So I'm going to die?"

Yes, you are, the doctor said. I'm very sorry.

He sat with Morrie and Charlotte for nearly two hours, patiently answering their questions. When they left, the doctor gave them some information on ALS, little pamphlets, as if they were opening a bank account. Outside, the sun was shining and people were going about their business. A woman ran to put money in the parking meter. Another carried groceries. Charlotte had a million thoughts running through her mind: How much time do we have left? How will we manage? How will we pay the bills?

My old professor, meanwhile, was stunned by the normalcy of the day around him. Shouldn't the world stop? Don't they know what has happened to me?

But the world did not stop, it took no notice at all, and as Morrie pulled weakly on the car door, he felt as if he were dropping into a hole.

Now what? he thought.

As my old professor searched for answers, the disease took him over, day by day, week by week. He backed the car out of the garage one morning and could barely push the brakes. That was the end of his driving.

He kept tripping, so he purchased a cane. That was the end of his walking free.

He went for his regular swim at the YMCA, but found he could no longer undress himself. So he hired his first home care worker--a theology student named Tony--who helped him in and out of the pool, and in and out of his bathing suit. In the locker room, the other swimmers pretended not to stare. They stared anyhow. That was the end of his privacy.

In the fall of 1994, Morrie came to the hilly Brandeis campus to teach his final college course. He could have skipped this, of course. The university would have understood. Why suffer in front of so many people? Stay at home. Get your affairs in order. But the idea of quitting did not occur to Morrie.

Instead, he hobbled into the classroom, his home for more than thirty years. Because of the cane, he took a while to reach the chair. Finally, he sat down, dropped his glasses off his nose, and looked out at the young faces who stared back in silence.

"My friends, I assume you are all here for the Social Psychology class. I have been teaching this course for twenty years, and this is the first time I can say there is a risk in taking it, because I have a fatal illness. I may not live to finish the semester.

"If you feel this is a problem, I understand if you wish to drop the course."

He smiled.

And that was the end of his secret.

ALS is like a lit candle: it melts your nerves and leaves your body a pile of wax. Often. it begins with the legs and works its way up. You lose control of your thigh muscles, so that you cannot support yourself standing. You lose control of your trunk muscles, so that you cannot sit up straight. By the end, if you are still alive, you are breathing through a tube in a hole in your throat, while your soul, perfectly awake, is imprisoned inside a limp husk, perhaps able to blink, or cluck a tongue, like something from a science fiction movie, the man frozen inside his own flesh. This takes no more than five years from the day you contract the disease.

Morrie's doctors guessed he had two years left.

Morrie knew it was less.

But my old professor had made a profound decision, one he began to construct the day he came out of the doctor's office with a sword hanging over his head. Do I wither up and disappear, or do I make the best of my time left? he had asked himself.

He would not wither. He would not be ashamed of dying.

Instead, he would make death his final project, the center point of his days. Since everyone was going to die, he could be of great value, right? He could be research. A human textbook. Study me in my slow and patient demise. Watch what happens to me. Learn with me.

Morrie would walk that final bridge between life and death, and narrate the trip.

The fall semester passed quickly. The pills increased. Therapy became a regular routine. Nurses came to his house to work with Morrie's withering legs, to keep the muscles active, bending them back and forth as if pumping water from a well. Massage specialists came by once a week to try to soothe the constant, heavy stiffness he felt. He met with meditation teachers, and closed his eyes and narrowed his thoughts until his world shrunk down to a single breath, in and out, in and out.

One day, using his cane, he stepped onto the curb and fell over into the street. The cane was exchanged for a walker. As his body weakened, the back and forth to the bathroom became too exhausting, so Morrie began to urinate into a large beaker. He had to support himself as he did this, meaning someone had to hold the beaker while Morrie filled it.

Most of us would be embarrassed by all this, especially at Morrie's age. But Morrie was not like most of us. When some of his close colleagues would visit, he would say to them, "Listen, I have to pee. Would you mind helping? Are you okay with that?"

Often, to their own surprise, they were.

In fact, he entertained a growing stream of visitors. He had discussion groups about dying, what it really meant, how societies had always been afraid of it without necessarily understanding it. He told his friends that if they really wanted to help him, they would treat him not with sympathy but with visits, phone calls, a sharing of their problems--the way they had always shared their problems, because Morrie had always been a wonderful listener.

For all that was happening to him, his voice was strong and inviting, and his mind was vibrating with a million thoughts. He was intent on proving that the word "dying" was not synonymous with "useless."

The New Year came and went. Although he never said it to anyone, Morrie knew this would be the last year of his life. He was using a wheelchair now, and he was fighting time to say all the things he wanted to say to all the people he loved. When a colleague at Brandeis died suddenly of a heart attack, Morrie went to his funeral. He came home depressed.

"What a waste," he said. "All those people saying all those wonderful things, and Irv never got to hear any of it."

Morrie had a better idea. He made some calls. He chose a date. And on a cold Sunday afternoon, he was joined in his home by a small group of friends and family for a "living funeral." Each of them spoke and paid tribute to my old professor. Some cried. Some laughed. One woman read a poem:

"My dear and loving cousin ...
Your ageless heart
as you move through time, layer on layer,
tender sequoia ..."

Morrie cried and laughed with them. And all the heartfelt things we never get to say to those we love, Morrie said that day. His "living funeral" was a rousing success.

Only Morrie wasn't dead yet.

In fact, the most unusual part of his life was about to unfold.

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Foreword

1. Did your opinion about Mitch change as book went on? In what way?

2. Who do you think got more out of their Tuesday meetings, Mitch or Morrie? In what ways? How do you think each would answer this question?

3. Do you think Mitch would have come back to Morrie's house the second time if he hadn't been semi-idled by the newspaper strike?

4. Discuss Morrie's criticisms of Mitch throughout the book. Do you think Morrie should have been tougher on him? Easier?

5. Do you think Mitch would have listened if Morrie hadn't been dying? Does impending death automatically make one's voice able to penetrate where it couldn't before?

Let's Talk About Death

6. Does this book make Morrie's death a public event? If so, how is it similar to other public deaths we've experienced as a society? How is it different?

7. Morrie referred to himself as a bridge, a person who is in between life and death, which makes him useful to others as a tool to understand both. Talk about other literary, historical, political, or religious figures who have also served this purpose.

8. Most of us have read of people discussing the way they'd like to die, or, perhaps, have been a part of that conversation. One common thought is that it would be best to live a long, healthy life and then die suddenly in one's sleep. After reading this book, what do you think about that? Given a choice, would Morrie have taken that route instead of the path he traveled?

9. On "Nightline," Morrie spoke to Ted Koppel of the pain he still felt about his mother's death seventy years prior to theinterview. Is your experience with loss similar or different? Does what you've read in this book help ease any of that pain?

10. Morrie was seventy-eight years old when diagnosed with ALS. How might he have reacted if he'd contracted the disease when he was Mitch's age? Would Morrie have come to the same conclusions? The same peace and acceptance? Or is his experience also a function of his age?

Let's Talk About Meaning

11. Try the "effect of silence" exercise that Mitch described in your class or in your group. What do you learn from it?

12. Talk about the role of meaningful coincidence, synchronicity, in the book and in Mitch and Morrie's friendship.

13. Morrie told Mitch about the "tension of opposites" (p. 40). Talk about this as a metaphor for the book and for society.

14. Mitch made a list of topics about which he wanted Morrie's insight and clarity. In what ways would your list be the same or different?

15. Discuss the book in terms of structure, voice, and tone, paying attention to Mitch's use of flashbacks and other literary devices. How do his choices add to the meaning?

16. Are college students today missing out because they don't have the meaningful experiences that students in the 1960s had? Do you think Morrie thought they were?

17. Morrie said, "If you've found meaning in your life, you don't want to go back. You want to go forward" (p. 118). Is this true in your experience?

Let's Talk About Religion, Culture, and Ritual

18. Morrie believed, "You have to be strong enough to say if the culture doesn't work, don't buy it. Create your own" (pp. 35-36). How can people do this? How can this book help?

19. As his visits with Morrie continued, Mitch explored some other cultures and religions and how each views death. Discuss these and others that you've studied.

20. To the very end, Mitch arrived at Morrie's house with food. Discuss the importance of this ritual.

Let's Talk About Relationships

21. Was Morrie making a judgment on people who choose not to have kids with his statement: "If you want the experience of having complete responsibility for another human being, and to learn how to love and bond in the deepest way, then you should have children" (p. 93)? Whether or not he was, do you agree?

22. Mitch wrote, "Perhaps this is one reason I was drawn to Morrie. He let me be where my brother would not" (p. 97). Discuss Mitch's relationship with Peter.

23. Discuss the practical side of Morrie's advice: "Only an open heart will allow you to float equally between everyone" (p. 128). How could this advice be useful the next time you're in a social or other situation where you feel out of place or uncomfortable?

24. Morrie said that in marriage, "Your values must be alike" (p. 149). In what ways do you agree or disagree?

25. Would Morrie's lessons have carried less weight if Mitch and Peter hadn't resumed contact by book's end?

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Interviews & Essays

On Wednesday, October 21st, barnesandnoble.com welcomed Mitch Albom, author of TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE.


Moderator: Good evening, Mr. Albom. We're very excited to have you join us. Do you have any opening comments for our audience tonight?

Mitch Albom: Just to say thanks for the continuous stunning reaction to this small little book.


Linus from home: So, did Morrie really remember you when you called after seeing him on "Nightline"? Professors always have so many students, I always think they won't remember me.

Mitch Albom: It's funny you should ask that question. When I was in college, back in the '70s, I used to call Morrie "coach." It was a nickname that I had for him. When I called him up 16 years later, and his nurse put him on the phone -- this was the day after I'd seen the "Nightline" program -- I began by saying, "Morrie, my name is Mitch Albom. I was a student of yours in the '70s. I don't now if you remember me." And the first thing Morrie said after 16 years was, "How come you didn't call me coach?" So, it was obvious that our relationship had stayed close to his heart, despite my absence.


Mark from Bennington, VT: In your book, you describe how the "eighties happened" to you, and how you lost sight of the vision you had had of yourself in college. How has your life changed now in the way you approach it? Is it changed in the way you view your life today, or have you made changes to your lifestyle?

Mitch Albom: Both. Ever since Morrie's death, I've tried to reorganize my priorities, putting less emphasis on work and accomplishments and far more on family, friends, time to absorb nature, and being involved in my community. I've cut my workload down at the newspaper where I work from five columns a week to two. I've negotiated long stretches of time off with my radio commitments -- I now get between two and three months a year away from the job -- and dropped several television obligations. My wife and I are trying to start a family, something that had never been a priority with me prior to Morrie. Also, my attitude towards death, towards the sick, and towards taking care of the elderly has been profoundly affected by my time with Morrie. So to answer your question briefly, while I am far from a perfect student, even of my own book, I try every day to keep my priorities in a healthier focus than I did before I was reunited with my old professor.


Judd from Boulder, CO: I just finished your book and loved it. I'm currently trying to reach out to my 84-year-old father who is the antithesis of Morrie, but has much in common with Morrie's father. You broke down barriers to open up to Morrie -- how did [you] do it? How can I and others reach out to the parents we love who refuse intimacy?

Mitch Albom: That's a great and important question. There's no perfect answer, but what I imagine Morrie would suggest is, first of all, to be direct with your expression of your feelings. Tell your father, for example, that you love him and that the limited time that you may have together is important for you, and you want to get closer to him. Many times, breaking down the barriers, as you refer to them, simply requires communicating in a different way than you always have. People build up baggage over the years and don't say certain things to one another and do say certain things in an annoying or discouraging fashion to the other party -- so that sometimes they're not even listening to what you say, but how you say it. I think if you sit down next to your father, hold his hand -- if he'll let you -- and begin by saying, let's put everything up to this point behind us and focus on the time we have left. Maybe that will be a beginning. I hope so, for both of you.


John R. from Binghamton, NY: In many cultures, it is a part of life that you care for your dying elders. And yet, because of our lifestyle, with nursing homes, etc., Americans don't often witness death and, in some ways, miss out on a very rich perspective on how we live our lives or what life means to us. Could you please comment on this?

Mitch Albom: Yes, you're very correct. Interestingly, I recently returned from Japan where they are releasing TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE in Japanese, and the people there saw my book as controversial, because in Japan they do not tell terminally ill patients that they are dying. It is somehow considered impolite. So they marveled at the very idea of sitting alongside a dying man who knew he was dying and was still willing to speak about it. What I learned from Morrie -- and what he wanted desperately to get across -- is that dying is in every way a part of living, and there is much to be learned from those of us who have truly recognized our fate and are in the final stages of our life. There is a clarity, a wisdom, an insight, and even a certain serenity that often comes with facing death, and these things are invaluable in living a good life as well. So I feel if we spent more time with the dying and the sick, we would lose some of the horror that we associate with it, and when our turns came to face that fate, we would be much better prepared both emotionally and spiritually.


Roland Tolliver from Freeport, IL: Mr. Albom, thank you for the gift of sharing Morrie's life lessons with us. Has a foundation been established in honor of Morrie Schwartz now that his medical costs have been paid? If not, has any thought been given to the idea? Thank you.

Mitch Albom: Yes, we are in the process of doing exactly that. It's my hope that we -- when I say we, I mean myself and Morrie's family -- can use some of the money from the book, which was originally only written to pay Morrie's medical expenses, to establish a way for the things he taught to go on. We are discussing with different schools and scholarship organizations what the best way to do this [is]. When we have it firmly established, we will publicize it through all the same mechanisms that are used to publicize the book. Thank you for your interest in this.


Jill from Beverly Hills, CA: Were you close with your grandparents as well? Do you think after this experience you wished you had done anything different with them?

Mitch Albom: That's an interesting question. I never knew one grandfather -- he died before I was born. His wife, my grandmother, lived with us from the time I was seven years old, so I was extremely close with her. My other set of grandparents were immigrants, and my grandfather did not speak very often or very much. He died rather suddenly without my ever having a chance to really relate to him as an adult. My remaining grandmother, sadly, died very slowly and lost her memory to Alzheimer's, which was a very painful thing to observe. I remember going to visit her in the hospital and having her not recognize me. She then tried to leave her bed and go to the bathroom but had an "accident" before she made it. This event -- seeing someone so old suffering such a childish indignity -- haunted me for many years. And it wasn't until Morrie opened my eyes to the fact that a decaying body does not necessarily mean the decaying spirit or a decaying mind, that I was able to change my thinking about death and aging.


Bernie from Novi, MI: Mitch, You've been highly successful at a young age. How does one strike a balance between paying homage to Morrie's axioms, and still chasing your dreams with the necessary commitments required?

Mitch Albom: That's a good question, too. I always tell people who ask about TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE that it is not a book after which you read it that you must quit your job, sell your house, burn your clothes, and move to Oregon and join an Ashram. Rather, the whole idea behind TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE is learning a balance in life, the ability to be productive and do important work while not losing sight of the big picture in life -- the big picture being love, family, community, nature. So, what I have tried to do is temper my ambition. When I want something in my career I ask myself, do I just want it because I want the success, or do I want to do it because it's important to me and is a worthwhile use of time? You'd be surprised at how much of our working life doesn't fit that second description. I have learned to accept the fact that there will always be people moving faster than me, achieving more than me, making more money than me, and that is perfectly fine. I have learned not to feel like a loser if I choose to slow down my life or say no to certain projects or jobs, even if they would mean advancement. Once you realize that trying to run faster than everyone else in the work world is not really a worthwhile use of your time, you find it very easy to enjoy the simpler things that are all around us. So, I haven't quit all my jobs, but I have cut them back. I haven't stopped wanting to advance, but I have given up the idea that my pace has to somehow exceed everyone else's. This is how you begin to unwind, to unhook, to detach from things that really give you no meaning in your life, and slowly your eyes are opened to the things that do.


Carol K. from Naperville, Illinois: Your book helped me last November when I was taking care of a friend dying of cancer. Your discussions with Morrie gave me the courage to talk openly with my friend, and as a result, he found peace and I learned more than I ever thought I could. Thanks for such a powerful, small book. Do you still find yourself learning lessons from the coach even though he is gone?

Mitch Albom: Oh, yeah, it never ends. I have conversations with him pretty much every day. I only wish he were alive to see how many students he could reach over this "computer business." He would have gotten a big kick out of it.


Grace from Michigan: When will we see this on the big screen? You have an important message, Mr. Albom, and I think it'll translate well to film.

Mitch Albom: Well, Oprah Winfrey bought the film rights to TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE early on. I was very hesitant, to be honest, at any idea of a film, as was Morrie's family. It was for that reason that we decided if anyone were to handle this, Oprah, who I have gotten to know a little bit, would be sensitive to the story and true to the book. Remember, these are real people we're talking about, not fictional characters. I happened to visit with Oprah last week, and the plan right now is to have this as a special "Oprah Winfrey Presents" TV-movie on ABC in May of 1999. However, Oprah also mentioned an enormous amount of feature film interest from big-name actors and big-name directors who have read the book and have been touched by it. So I don't really know what's ultimately going to happen. I'm just the writer -- they leave me out of the loop. But I hope whoever ultimately makes this, be it for TV or feature film, is moved by Morrie's spirit and is true to his ideas and words. That's all I want from the project. And hopefully, that's what will happen.


Jennifer from Bryn Mawr, PA: Has this inspired you to look up other professors? Or do you think that this only worked because you were so close to him before?

Mitch Albom: No, it has definitely inspired me to look up not only old teachers, but old friends and other influences in my life. I believe that if someone touched you with their wisdom and their spirit when you were younger, chances are, if you encounter them again, they will still be able to do so. More importantly, you may find that you are more willing to listen, because you slip back into your student mode, the way you used to feel before you knew it all. It was this magical chemistry that worked for Morrie and me and, I believe, exists in some form between all favorite teachers and students.


Bill from Minneapolis, Minnesota: If you had met Morrie again and he wasn't dying, do you think you would have clung to him and renewed your friendship as you had? Would you have listened as well?

Mitch Albom: Thats a really interesting question. It's hard to answer, because I was only reunited with Morrie by accident because he was on the "Nightline" program talking to Ted Koppel about what it was like to die. Had he not been dying, he would have never been talking to Koppel. And given my self-absorbed frame of mind at the time, had he not been dying, I might not have felt as guilty or ashamed by my absence from his life and might not have been compelled to visit him as I did. I'm just being honest here. I do think that Morrie's conversations with me took on a certain focus, inspiration, and, even in a small way, a desperation, because of his dwindling time. I like to think that as a result of my time with him, I have become the kind of person that would no longer need a terminal illness to reunite me with someone who I cared about so much.


Reggy from Dallas: How did Ted Koppel hear about Schwartz to begin with?

Mitch Albom: There was a newspaper article in The Boston Globe, which came about because one of Morrie's friends had written the reporter about Morrie. That article found its way to Koppel, Koppel found [his] way to Morrie, I found my way to "Nightline," and everything fell into place.


Arthur from Queens, NY: The writing of this book must be such a different experience from writing your sports column. I'm sure both are rewarding in their own way. How do they compare?

Mitch Albom: Well, as a columnist, or rather as a journalist, you are firstly trained not to talk about yourself. So that was the toughest part for me about writing TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE. Dealing with my own emotions and weaknesses is much more difficult than simply stating who I think is going to win the Super Bowl. Conversely, I know a lot of people think writing about sports is simply a lot of words about curveballs and touchdowns, but I believe sports is a human activity, same as politics, education, space travel, you name it. And the truth is, you can find the whole of the life experience -- glory, heartbreak, inspiration, greed, even death -- while writing about the sports world. So, in some ways, the experience was similar in that I was recording what another person was saying, and writing about another person's life, but in other ways, the subject matter and the complete lack of a playing field or crowds or fame was completely new and different.


Jonathan from Seattle: What makes a good mentor?

Mitch Albom: Whew. First of all, I think a good mentor listens to his student. Doesn't prejudge him. Doesn't become aloof or feel superior. I think a good mentor is able ot inspire his student to want to learn from his experience, maybe even become like the mentor, but not because the mentor insists on imitation. Rather, the mentor's actions and teachings should somehow find their way to the student's heart on their own so that the student should always hunger to hear and learn more from his or her mentor.


Naomi from Bangor, ME: are there any questions you wish you could ask Morrie now but didn't think of while he was alive?

Mitch Albom: Yes, there are countless times that I wish Morrie were here with me to answer my questions. I have gone to his grave several times, as he asked me to in the book, and, although I had a million things I wanted to ask him, what I found myself asking him over and over was, "Am I doing okay by you down here?" I mostly hope that I am representing what Morrie believed and what our conversations were truly about, and I guess every now and then, I would love to hear Morrie say in that raspy voice of his, "You're doing okay, kid." I guess, like all of us who have lost someone, I will just have to trust the voice that I hear in my heart, which is often his anyhow.


Leonard from Lubbock, TX: Clearly you found that Morrie had a universal message. Did you think everyone else would get it the way they have?

Mitch Albom: No, I must admit, I never thought there would be anything like this response. As you may know, TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE was written simply as a way for me to pay Morrie's medical expenses, which were enormous due to his desire to die at home, a process which therefore was not covered in any way by insurance and which took more than two years, thanks to the cruelty of ALS [Lou Gehrig's disease]. The original printing of TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE was 25,000 copies, and I would have been delighted if we sold those and called it a day. So the fact that there is now something like 1.1 million copies out there, and that nice people like yourselves are bothering to sit in front of a computer to hear anything I have to say is a constant surprise to me. But a good one because it shows that when you do something from the heart, people pick up on it and react with their hearts. And one of the great lessons of this whole TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE experience has been my renewed faith in the goodness of people and the universality of our experiences, especially grief, loss, and the desire for love to go on even after death. So, I thank everyone who has opened their heart to this book, and I remain surprised, but pleasantly so, at how a simple story about an old man and a young man can reach so many people around the world.


Moderator: Thank you for your wonderful answers tonight! Do you have any closing comments you'd like to make?

Mitch Albom: Maybe just this: If you have someone in your life that you are separated from and that you care about -- be it because of distance, or anger, or a crumbling relationship, or even simply because you are too "busy" to get in touch with them -- be smarter than I was. Find your way back to them. Open your heart to them. And soak them in for all the good and love that they have to offer you and you have to offer them. I assure you, you will be glad that you did. Thank you for your continued interest in this book. Goodnight.


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Reading Group Guide

1. Did your opinion about Mitch change as book went on? In what way?

2. Who do you think got more out of their Tuesday meetings, Mitch or Morrie? In what ways? How do you think each would answer this question?

3. Do you think Mitch would have come back to Morrie's house the second time if he hadn't been semi-idled by the newspaper strike?

4. Discuss Morrie's criticisms of Mitch throughout the book. Do you think Morrie should have been tougher on him? Easier?

5. Do you think Mitch would have listened if Morrie hadn't been dying? Does impending death automatically make one's voice able to penetrate where it couldn't before?

Let's Talk About Death

6. Does this book make Morrie's death a public event? If so, how is it similar to other public deaths we've experienced as a society? How is it different?

7. Morrie referred to himself as a bridge, a person who is in between life and death, which makes him useful to others as a tool to understand both. Talk about other literary, historical, political, or religious figures who have also served this purpose.

8. Most of us have read of people discussing the way they'd like to die, or, perhaps, have been a part of that conversation. One common thought is that it would be best to live a long, healthy life and then die suddenly in one's sleep. After reading this book, what do you think about that? Given a choice, would Morrie have taken that route instead of the path he traveled?

9. On "Nightline," Morrie spoke to Ted Koppel of the pain he still felt about his mother's death seventy years prior to the interview. Is your experience with loss similar or different? Does what you've read in this book help ease any of that pain?

10. Morrie was seventy-eight years old when diagnosed with ALS. How might he have reacted if he'd contracted the disease when he was Mitch's age? Would Morrie have come to the same conclusions? The same peace and acceptance? Or is his experience also a function of his age?

Let's Talk About Meaning

11. Try the "effect of silence" exercise that Mitch described in your class or in your group. What do you learn from it?

12. Talk about the role of meaningful coincidence, synchronicity, in the book and in Mitch and Morrie's friendship.

13. Morrie told Mitch about the "tension of opposites" (p. 40). Talk about this as a metaphor for the book and for society.

14. Mitch made a list of topics about which he wanted Morrie's insight and clarity. In what ways would your list be the same or different?

15. Discuss the book in terms of structure, voice, and tone, paying attention to Mitch's use of flashbacks and other literary devices. How do his choices add to the meaning?

16. Are college students today missing out because they don't have the meaningful experiences that students in the 1960s had? Do you think Morrie thought they were?

17. Morrie said, "If you've found meaning in your life, you don't want to go back. You want to go forward" (p. 118). Is this true in your experience?

Let's Talk About Religion, Culture, and Ritual

18. Morrie believed, "You have to be strong enough to say if the culture doesn't work, don't buy it. Create your own" (pp. 35-36). How can people do this? How can this book help?

19. As his visits with Morrie continued, Mitch explored some other cultures and religions and how each views death. Discuss these and others that you've studied.

20. To the very end, Mitch arrived at Morrie's house with food. Discuss the importance of this ritual.

Let's Talk About Relationships

21. Was Morrie making a judgment on people who choose not to have kids with his statement: "If you want the experience of having complete responsibility for another human being, and to learn how to love and bond in the deepest way, then you should have children" (p. 93)? Whether or not he was, do you agree?

22. Mitch wrote, "Perhaps this is one reason I was drawn to Morrie. He let me be where my brother would not" (p. 97). Discuss Mitch's relationship with Peter.

23. Discuss the practical side of Morrie's advice: "Only an open heart will allow you to float equally between everyone" (p. 128). How could this advice be useful the next time you're in a social or other situation where you feel out of place or uncomfortable?

24. Morrie said that in marriage, "Your values must be alike" (p. 149). In what ways do you agree or disagree?

25. Would Morrie's lessons have carried less weight if Mitch and Peter hadn't resumed contact by book's end?

Read More Show Less

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 1662 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 30, 2010

    Tuesdays with Morrie

    I hate reading with a passion. When I had to read a book for English class i really didn't like the idea of having to read a book. When my teacher explained the story of this book i was actually looking forward to reading it. When i read the first sentence i knew that it was going to be a good book. from the front cover to the back cover it took me back to my child hood and the people i have lost in my life. I was amazed that one person lived so On the edge and really didn't care about the details of life, Morrie lived life like he wanted to and didn't care of what other people thought. This is how everyone should live their life the way Morrie did. When i got to the last day or time they saw each together and Morrie couldn't talk and as Mitch said "Whispering" it reminded me of me and my grandpa talking to each other for the last time. I HAVE NEVER EVER CRIED OVER A BOOK!! This book made me cry I'm a 15 year old kid who doesn't have emotions. This book is a great read and I recommend it to anyone who doesn't like to read. This is a book that you do not want to put down. It changed my way of looking at life and i hope it changes yours :)

    28 out of 29 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 18, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Slow Down

    Although death is a constant subject, the novel Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom is actually a book about life. It's a true story about what happens when an insightful and brilliant professor conrtacts the fatal disease ALS, and the way one of his students from years ago stayed with him until the end.
    This book is so personal because Mitch's voice shows you his deepest and most personal thoughts. Also, the main character and the author share a name. this gives off a feeling of actually being there. Morrie was Mitch's farvorite college professor. When Mitch learns about Morrie's illness, he begins meeting with him every Tuesday to talk. Mitch is so touched by Morrie's insights and thoughts on life that he feels as if no time at all has passed since he was Morrie's student in college. At the beginning of the story, Mitch cared more about about money and his job than his wife or being a good person. After meeting with Morrie, he doesnt care so much about answering his cell phone, he lets himself think about life, and, well, he writes bestselling novels.
    Morrie gives insights on life, love, forgiveness, wants and needs, anything Mitch needs to talk about. As the end for him becomes closer and closer, he becomes more and more accepting. As his disease takes over, slowly looses control of his body. First he can't walk, then can't lift his arms, or finally eat solid food, until he is just a useless lump. He doesnt see it this way, though. He doesn't want pity; he wants people to visit him, to call him, to tell him about their problems. Sometimes, it seems like Morrie has an answer for everything. He doesn't like the way our culture is in such a hurry. He thinks people should slow down and take the time to live life. i think this is the most important lesson that Mitch learned from Morrie, and the most important lesson everyone can learn from reading this book, and the most important lesson everyone can learn from reading this book. This book doesnt give off a sad, depressing feeling, though. It takes the heavy subject of death and keeps it in a pretty light tone. Life is too short to keep rushing through it. Take the time out of your busy life to read this book.

    9 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 18, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    A Must Read For Hospice

    I read this book when I was working hospice. What a beautiful and dignified story. Even if you are not a nurse this is a book that teaches the value we have on one another. It is also a easy weekend read.

    9 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 13, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Tuesday with Morrie

    I love this book...The story was really enlighting to me. Morrie had experience so many great relationships with his students in his lifetime and had so many wonderful stories to share. He lived life and yes he felt like he was missing something. He felt love for his life but yet I fell he felt empty at that he wished he could of accomplished more and the lesson he gave to his students were the kind they would never forget.
    I love Mitch Alboms book they are short stories yet they all have such great meanings and lesson to them.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 23, 2012

    Highly Recommended - you must check it out!!

    This book was required for us to read in class but i ended up loving it! great life lessons and it helps really open the eyes on what we could be missing on life. Morrie seems like a great person!

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 18, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A Worth-While Book

    It never occured to me how strong a bond between a student and professor could be, until I read Mitch Albom's story. While reading Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom, I felt as if I was sitting in the comfort of Morrie's home, surrounded by friends. Although you are not truly included in the dialogue, Mitch and Morrie make you feel engaged, as if you are a part of their talks.
    Morrie was Mitch's old professor but it's long after the final bell rang and Morrie has never stopped teaching. He continued to teach life lessons, like the idea that we all need to "love each other or die." Even while battling ALS, Morrie continues to teach and he never loses his special touch.
    This is an interesting and worth-while memoir that demonstrates some of life's greatest lessons. By reading this we learn to love the people in our lives, and appreciate the small things. Tuesdays With Morrie has left a lasting impression on me, and I highly suggest you read it so it can do the same for you.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 7, 2010

    I loved every chapter of this book!

    This is my first time reading Mitch Albom's and I really loved this book! It brought a smile to my face, tears to my eyes and touched me deeply. It was very inspirational and I highly recommend it!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 27, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Tuesday's with Morrie

    Great book. You become a silent 3rd person in the room. Very warm and touching. It motivated me to change some things in my life. Less than a month after reading it I decided to quit smoking!!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 1999

    Tuesdays With Morrie is a true beautifully written story

    I have enjoyed this reading very much, and I am very happy that I enrolled in this reading class. By reading this book, I have learned a great deal, but most of all I have had a chance to look at my inner-self and also assimilate how a positive lifestyle gives a person a better understanding of all of life's situations. This book has given me a chance to better myself in the future and it has made me think about what is important in life and how to live life to its fullest

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 7, 1999

    'The Teacher Lives On'

    Tuesdays with Morrie is a fantastic novel. The novel touched my heart. Morrie is someone to cherish for a life time.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2013

    Must Read! This book is very interesting and a great read. This

    Must Read!
    This book is very interesting and a great read. This novel contains many heartfelt moments and is difficult to put down as a reader. Mitch is a young man who in some way needing advice which he seeks from his old professor. Every Tuesday Mitch goes and visits Morrie as they discuss topics in life. They both enjoy eachothers company and never miss an appointment, The novel is in the time of 1990's in Massachusetts, mostly in Morrie's home. I enjoyed reading this book and I advise others to read it aswell.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2013

    After having to read this novel in my English class, I enjoyed i

    After having to read this novel in my English class, I enjoyed it for the most part. The problem I had with this novel was that I could not connect with it based off of personal expiriences. Throughout the book, I got to thinking about the novel and how it can happen to anyone at any given time regardless of how good of a person you are or not. I am not an emotional person, but there were parts of the novel that had me thinking about things and how although its not me, it is happening to people. There were many times as I was reading that I found myself into a deep thought and not wanting to put the book down. The first page wasn't appealing to me, but as i read on, and I started seeing the connection growing between these two men, it made me realize that everyday is a new day, and I have to live life to the fullest like Morrie did. A former student and his former professor connecting on things like this can really hit home to certain people. At some parts of the novel it did, but for the most part I was not effected.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 10, 2012

    I started reading this for a high school project and I have t


    I started reading this for a high school project and I have to say it is the best book I have read in a while. It was very poignant and has a really good message. I couldn’t help but agree with Morrie’s philosophies. I can’t lie, I cried at the end, not to give too much away.

    I really liked the message it had. People need to enjoy the things in life that are most important. Don’t worry about things such as technology. I’m not sure if it because it is based on true events that it really gets me or something else but this book really made me emotional because of the people I know that have passed away and how much they taught me. I guess I kind of understand where this Mitch Albom was coming from when he wrote this.I would definitely recommend this book to people. It is a good book and I believe that everyone who reads it will enjoy it.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 29, 2008

    life changing

    this book is just amazing. my uncle died of ALS and my aunt handed me this book and said "find peace in morrie's words" and i did. And i cried. and have read this book five times. i recommend this book to everyone. i have given mine out to all my friends to read and they have gone out and bought their own copies. i love this book.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 17, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Amazing

    Phenomenal and unforgettable. Anybody could enjoy this book.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2013

    Tuesdays with Morrie is a very inpiring novel written by Mitch A

    Tuesdays with Morrie is a very inpiring novel written by Mitch Albom. The book is about a long lost student of Morrie Schwartz, a college professor. After sixteen years, Mitch sees Morrie ona show called "Nightline". Morrie talks about his disease (ALS). Mitch travels every Tuesday for fourteen Tuesdays to meet with Morrie. They discuss life lessons; love, regret, family, marriage, etc. Overall a very emotional and uplifting book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2013

    Our Last Days This story is about a guy that went to college

    Our Last Days



    This story is about a guy that went to college and his favorite teacher. The guy's name is Mitch and his favorite teacher's name is Morrie. Mitch is actually the narrator of the story and he does a great job at descibing everyone too. After Mitch leaves school, and persues his dream as a writer, he comes across a show where he sees Morrie. He tells us in the story that Morrie is diagnosed with ALS and it is terminal. He doesn't have long to live, so Mitch decides to visit him and spends the last days with Morrie. They get along well through-out the story and it makes for an interesting read. Morrie drops some powerful jewels for most of the story and in my opinion it really is worth the read. Most of the setting is at Morrie's house and Brandeis University where Morrie was a Professor. There are other characters in the story. You have Ted Koppel who is the interviewer for Nightline. Peter (Mitch's brother), Janine (Mitch's Wife) and Charlotte (Morrie's Wife). They all have a significant role in the story and it makes for a very touching one. I think it was very thought-provoking and I enjoyed it a lot.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2013

    Great Life Lesson in a Book: Characters- Mitch Albom: a student

    Great Life Lesson in a Book: Characters- Mitch Albom: a student of morries who was his favorite professor. when he heard he was dying he goes back to visit him every tuesday. He learns so much from morrie, it is life changing for him. After all his visits with morrie he really sees everything differently. Morrie Schwartz- a professor who gets sick and has to quit is job he loved somuch. He suffers from ALS which leaves him not able to do anything for him self untill he passes away. He is a great person who teaches many life lessons he is so greatful for everything he has and tries to pass his love and wisdome onto mitch. Setting: Early to mid 1990's in West Newton Massachusetts in Morries house. Theme: the greatest things come from the most simple things main events: Mitch was a student of Morries who got sucked into his job and forgot about everything else. something he said he would never do. when he heard his favorite professor was passing away he eventually quit and started visiting Morrie every tuesday they would just talk for hours and hours. Mitch learned a lot of great things through out his life from morrie. he eventually became a news reporter a new job he loves and although he is very sad about morries death he grows a lot from it and it really helps him out in the end. Review: Tuesdays with Morrie is a great book. while reading it its almost like Morrie is talking to you, teaching you all of thease great life lessons. This book was not just written for entertainment it was written to teach you something. This book is written in such a great wayyou can really get attached to the characters and put your self in their shoes.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2013

    For an indiviual as myself who is not a indepth reader, this boo

    For an indiviual as myself who is not a indepth reader, this book had drawn me closer than any other i have ever read in life! For a person's perspective like Morrie to be so similar towards mines still amazes me and futher encourgaes me to follow my heart and to continue to do what i know what is right. Just picture yourself being informed that you have suddenly been diagnosed with a terminal illness - what would you do? How would you cope with such devastating news? In this book, you will hear how a college professor, named Morrie Schwartz, who hasd been diagnosed with ALS. Shortly after, it concluded him from teaching at Brandeis, but not stopping him from contiuing his teaching sessions on life lessons and importance ot if. One of his past classmates, Mitch Albom, who had been so soaked up with the everyday life situations. He had caught his former professor having a televised interview about his shocking illness on NightLine, which later on reeled him back to reality of life and its true meanings thanks to having discussing sessions every Tuesday until his passing. Mitch had been going through a lot at the time stressing with his job decisions and his family and it seemed destine to get and keep in contact his old professor while Morrie was continuing to teach about his life lessons and willing to help others as much as he could. Morrie showed and opened up about how to not get caught up things not important to your meaning of life which opened the eyes of many around the world who heard this story. Not hiding or sugarcoating his illness, he proved that you can still do what you love and what brings life inside yourself. To him it was to love and help others all you can in which for Morrie it was to continue to teaching no matter what. This book really makes you second guess the things that are truly important in your current life and seemingly can brgihten up your future on what you TRULY desire to have and inquire before your time is up!
    - MG

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 25, 2013

    "once you learn how to die, you learn how to live"(Alb

    "once you learn how to die, you learn how to live"(Albom,Tuesdays WIth Morrie). Though the novel, "Tuesdays With Morrie" is focused around the impending death of beloved college professor Morrie SChwartz, it is really a stoy about life, and finding its true meaning. When college graduate and workaholic discovers that his favorite college professor Mitch Schwartz is withering away from ALS, he immediatly decides to visti him- a thing he has not done since graduation day.  The story follows the two men through the last through months of Morries life, and the things that they learn from one another. the figurative language used throughout the novel lifts the story to new heights, and makes every page a thrill. Tok can appeal to a wide range of ages and interests because in covers countless topics and at least one of them is bound to spark anyones interest. i would reccomend "Tuesdays WIth Morrie" to anyone who enjoys reading a classichis bo, well thought out novel, and is not afraid to shed a tear or two. 

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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