My father died today. After a relatively short 2 year battle with ALS, he is finally at peace. I slept in the hospital last night with him. Reflecting, processing, preparing for the inevitable. I reread Tuesdays with Morrie. The first time I read this book, years ago, it did not leave a lasting impression. It was touching of course, and an emotional read, but not personally relevant since I had never lost anyone close to me before. I realized a few weeks ago that the man Mitch Albom was visiting in this book had ALS. In addition to this horrible disease, Morrie and my father had a few other things in common.
Morrie loved his family. He was selfless. He positively influenced every life he touched – and people loved him desperately. Both Morrie and my father chose upon the day of their diagnosis to live and love and experience life to its fullest until their last breath. They chose to fight. They never hid from life – good, bad, or ugly. Tuesdays with Morrie chronicles the weekly visits Mitch Albom had with Morrie during the last few months of his life. They discuss death in a way that makes the reader want to live and cherish life without fearing the end when it comes. Morrie’s attitude inspires the reader to embrace life.
With the Ice Bucket Challenge sweeping the nation (#IceBucketChallenge), the ALS Association has raised well over 30 million dollars in just one brief month. They use this money for ALS research and to provide support for people diagnosed with ALS. My father lived to see the comraderie of his family and friends joining in the Ice Bucket Challenge and posting their videos on Facebook. He lived to see the boom in funding that the challenge brought to ALS research looking for a cure. Currently there is over 30 million dollars in donations where less than 2 million dollars stood last year in the same amount of time.
Reading Tuesdays with Morrie last night was personally cathartic; however, I urge you all to read it before the end of the month. It only takes a few brief hours to read. Each chapter is short but well placed and poignant. Mitch Albom intersperses memories of college (when Morrie was his professor) and memories of his weekly visits – what they called Morrie’s last class. ALS was hardly known at all to most people last month, but with the Ice Bucket Challenge going viral, it makes sense to read this heartbreaking and inspiring book so that you can get a feel for what ALS is and how it works. Gaining insight into Morrie’s unique mind and his zest for life is something that will hopefully stick with you even if you’re only reading it for the first time like I did a number of years ago.
Allison Irwin, PCTELA Executive Director
Morrie did three interviews with Ted Koppel after his diagnosis in the early 1990s. See his first interview here.
Mitch Albom taped his meetings with Morrie. He provides some of those audiotaped interviews on his website here.