Death of a teacher

Death of a teacher

In his book, “Tuesdays With Morrie,” Mitch Albom shares the heartwarming account of his weekly visits with his favorite old college professor, Morrie Schwartz, who was dying due to Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease (a debilitating, progressive and incurable muscle disease that affects the central nervous system). Mitch had not had any contact with Morrie since the spring of 1979, when he graduated from Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass. Time passed, and he had no idea that Morrie was a victim of ALS until he accidentally saw a Nightline interview Ted Koppel did with Morrie in 1995. After this television interview, Mitch visited Morrie, and they renewed their friendship from college days. They agreed on Tuesday as the day when Mitch would come by Morrie’s home in West Newton, Mass., for visits in a “real life seminar.” In Mitch’s words: “The last class of my old professor’s life … met on Tuesdays. … The subject was “The Meaning of Life.” It was taught from experience. No grades were given, but there were oral exams given each week. … No books were required, yet many topics were covered, including love, work, community, family, ageing, forgiveness, and finally, death. A funeral was held in lieu of graduation” (page 1). Tuesdays seemed to be the most likely choice for these visits because Morrie and Mitch had a history that was rooted in Tuesdays. Most of Mitch’s courses under Morrie had met on Tuesdays. When Mitch wrote his senior thesis, Morrie’s office hours were on Tuesdays, and the two of them would go over this work in progress. Morrie said to Mitch, “We’re Tuesday people” (page 52). Ironically, at the funeral service when Morrie’s ashes were placed in the ground, Mitch suddenly realized it was Tuesday! According to the “Cecil Textbook of Medicine,” edited by James B. Wyngaarden and Lloyd H. Smith, ALS is a disease that affects approximately 25,000 people in the United States. The symptoms usually appear between ages 40 and 70. It affects more males (60 percent) than females (40 percent). For further information: The ALS Association, Agoura Rd., Suite 150, Calabasas Hills, CA 91301 (818-880-9007), www.alsa.org/ or The National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD), 55 Kenosa Ave., P.O. Box 1968, Danbury, CT 91364 (203-764-6518) www.rarediseases.org/. Don Harold Lawrence is coordinator of SUNRISE, which is sponsored by Shackelford Corporation. He may be contacted by mail at 145 Abernathy Drive, Adamsville, TN 38310-3001 or by telephone or fax at (731) 632-4483. His Web address is www.shackelfordfuneraldirectors.com. Published in The Messenger 6.5.08

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