Once again, my talented and compassionate cousin, an occasional guest writer on my blog has been at it again. She has been writing articles and essays for school and for other special projects. Due to her talent in writing and in how she wonderfully expresses herself in her work, she had recently won a scholarship. She also recently wrote a nonfiction article reviewing a particular book and movie she had read and saw. She was very affected by it and has offered to share this on my blog. She had already written and submitted Part One of her article and here is a link to it:
Now, she has written the rest of it and would like to share it here. I found the book she is referring to be available at Amazon.com website for those who may be interested in purchasing it and reading more. The book is titled, Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom. This article is lengthy so I am dividing it into two parts. So, without further delay here is Kathy B. in her own words in part 2:
Tuesdays with Morrie Part 2
As Morrie presented Mitch with a briefcase as a graduation gift, he promised his professor that he would keep in touch with him. Although he never quite forgot Morrie, life got in the way. He tried to pursue his passion for music by performing in a band, but that dream did not manage to pay the bills, and so it died. He returned to school and after a few years of hard work became a well-known sports writer at the Detroit Free Press. Mitch kept up a relationship with Janine in spite of his hectic schedules and frequent absences. He traveled far and wide to get the latest big sports story. For example, he raced off to London to cover Wimbledon for the paper. The O.J. Simpson story was even fair game because it involved a famous former football player. Having money in the bank gave him a sense of security. He did not even slow down long enough to figure out what was really driving him was the death of his uncle. If he was going to die young like him, he was not going to waste a minute of his life (Albom, 1997).
Meanwhile, Morrie continued his generativity, passing on knowledge, wisdom and history to the emerging adults who were lucky enough to take his classes. In 1994, Morrie received a devastating diagnosis from the doctor. He not only had a chronic condition that was permanent, but he had a death sentence (N. Hooyman & H. Kiyak, 2010). A chronic condition is one that lasts more than three months; it often lasts the rest of that person’s life. At most, the doctor said, he had two years left to live. Morrie had decisions to make, but he and his wife Charlotte knew that he would age in place, stay at home. There was no talk of a nursing home (N. Hooyman & H. Kiyak, 2010). While flipping aimlessly through the channels late one night, Mitch heard a name from his past – Morrie Schwartz. He sat down to listen to Ted Koppel of Nightline. The program focused on hard news and human interest stories (Albom, 1997).
An Explanation of Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
This particular segment was about his beloved instructor who was afflicted with ALS, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also called “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.” It is a neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord little by little. Motor neurons go from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the whole body. The constant erosion of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to their demise. When the motor neurons quit functioning, the ability of the brain to work and control its muscles becomes impossible. This often leads to total paralysis. The terribly wicked part of the disability is that one’s cognitive, intellectual ability remains as sharp as ever while the body withers and dies (ALS Association, 2010). The words in the book aptly describe it “like hot candle wax that melts the motor neurons.” Mitch found himself on his way to see his old, beloved professor. This one visit turned into fourteen more such life lessons (Albom, 1997). It was the student and teacher’s final class together, the true meaning of the continuity theory (N. Hooyman & H. Kiyak, 2010). Morrie even gave himself a “living funeral.” Surprisingly, it was a fairly joyous time. He also found out that he had a wonderful convoy of family, friends, and direct care staff, formal, paid staff ready and willing to offer help as well as support. Mitch became part of his convoy. However, the paid caregivers grew to have a special place for Morrie in their hearts too (N. Hooyman & H. Kiyak, 2010).
The Request and the Teacher’s Final Lessons
When Mitch’s newspaper union went on strike, he suddenly had much more free time to spend with his friend. Coincidently, Tuesday had been the day for Morrie’s office hour at the university. This had always been their day together during Mitch’s college years; Morrie proclaimed that they were “Tuesday people.” Mitch began to look forward to these visits so much that left his cell phone in his car. He did not want to miss a moment with Morrie (Albom, 1995). Eventually, Mitch even helped Morrie with is Activities of Daily Life, (ADL)’s such as lifting him into his chair or helping him in the restroom. By the second visit, they started talking about difficult topics, such as depression and feeling sorry for oneself. He told Mitch that he allowed himself only five minutes a day first thing in the morning to rage, cry and realize how much he was losing. After those five minutes, he put that away, and he continued the business of active aging. For example, he read the newspaper every morning, he made phone calls and wrote letters. Tasks like these are called, “Instrumental activities of daily living,” or IADL’s. One of his many philosophies, “if you stay in bed, you’re dead.” As much as possible, he did as many activities as possible on his own. Although he never fooled himself, he knew the day was coming soon when he would even need assistance wiping his own bottom after using the bathroom. (N. Hooyman & H. Kiyak, 2010).
On the third Tuesday, they spoke about the eighth and final stage of Erik Erikson’s Psychosocial Theory of Human Development, Integrity vs. Despair. (N. Hooyman & H. Kiyak, 2010). This means the ability to be happy with overall path one’s life has taken and have few regrets about it. Some people choose to go through life stagnant, caught up in the rather unimportant trappings of life: money, selfish wants and possessions. Morrie felt that in order to achieve the fulfillment that Erikson spoke of, one must learn to live and love well. Regret was an awful waste of precious time. Gratitude was always expressed; the tough times were met with positivity and good humor. Those were his keys to life; he did his best to live each moment to its fullest, making the decision not to wait until the last minutes of his life to explore its true meaning. They discussed our cultural fear of death; we tend, as a society, not face it until we are about to die, Just before the fourth Tuesday, Nightline and Ted Koppel returned for a visit.
At first, Ted said saw little difference until the interview was well under way; his hands were not animated and flying all over the place like they were before. The two spoke of stacks of mail that were received after the first interview; not surprisingly, Morrie really touched people. When Morrie was speaking about a letter that he had recently answered. Suddenly, he started speaking about his own family, especially his mother and father. (Albom, 1997). At eight years old, he could not face his mother’s death. She passed away from cancer. He was not even allowed by his father to mention his mother. A year later, his father remarried, so Morrie became part of a blended family due to his mother’s death and his father’s subsequent remarriage (N. Hooyman & H. Kiyak, 2010). It took Morrie quite some time to get used to her, but she was a loving woman who sang to him. Eventually, he found room in his heart for her. As the end came nearer, family became even more important to him. An oxygen tank went along with him now, his newest piece of equipment. As Morrie often did, he switched the tables on Mitch; the two began to talk about Mitch’s brother who was suffering from pancreatic cancer. Mitch admitted that he was angry at his brother because he would not talk about and share his illness with the family (N. Hooyman & H. Kiyak, 2010). He hid it away from them, unlike Morrie, closing himself off. Morrie told Mitch that he must feel all of his emotions; otherwise, he will be too afraid to truly love. Morrie explained that totally immersing himself in the experience of having and being totally responsible for his children allowed him to bond and love in the most profound way (Albom, 1997).
Stay tuned for Part 3, the conclusion.
For those that may be interested in purchasing and reading Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom, here is a link to it at Amazon.com: