Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Lou Gehrig’s disease

 “Tuesdays with Morrie” by Mitch Albom, (written in July 3, 2007)

Morrie, a Brandeis sociology professor, is finding out that he is afflicted by Lou Gehrig’s disease or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) that atrophy the muscles and which is terminal.  This ailment reduces the patient to a totally dependent state, even for wiping his behind at an advanced stage, before his lung muscles kill him by suffocation.

Mitch Albom, Morrie’s former student, has appointments with Morrie every Tuesday to talk and record his feeling and ideas about death and other sticky issues.

Morrie gave up driving when he could barely push the brakes, gave up swimming when he could no longer undress himself, he gave up teaching after he warned his class that he has a fatal illness and may not live to finish the semester. 

The illness begins at the legs and works its way up and is like a lit candle that melts your nerves and leaves your body a pile of wax and confined to a wheel chair and then helped to piss.  Morrie decided that he would allow to be studied as a patient throughout the difficult and embarrassing periods of degeneracy of his illness.

Mitch forgot his professor for 13 years until one night he watched Ted Koppel Nightline program covering his crippled professor at his home.  Mitch visited Morrie and they decided to meet every Tuesday as they used to do during college and Mitch carried a tape recorder because these sessions were going to be a work project or “final thesis” and the subject was the meaning of life and taught from experience, about death, marriage, family, feeling sorry, regrets, emotions, fear of aging, money, culture, forgiveness, and perfect day. 

Mitch called Morrie “Coach” and the latter called him “Player”.

Morrie had many friends who came to visit with him during his dying days and many of his former students and he used to focus on individual people and giving them his undivided attention.  Henry Adams says: “A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops”.

After Morrie reached a state of total helplessness, except for talking, he said that he leaned to enjoy total dependency because we all know how to be a baby; we just refuse to remember how to enjoy being a child and plainly enjoy the situation when once our mother used to caress us, hold us, rock us and take care of us. 

Morrie worked in a mental hospital for five years after graduation on a grant to observe patients and record their treatments, a place for research where he could contribute without exploiting others.  He learned that what most of these mentally ill persons wanted was someone to notice that they were there.  He befriended some of the patients and had gotten through them.  Morrie’s mother died when he was ten and he learned it through a telegram and his father forbade him to mention her name and would not talk to him or touch him or tuck him in bed.

Morrie learned to let emotions of fear, anxiety, loneliness, and horror sink in, dive in, all the way, over his head, and completely experience them and recognize the feel of their progress and their texture and then to detach from these emotions and step away from them.  Morrie learned to turn on the faucet of emotions, of tears, of fear and not let them inside so that he may control them.  

(Now I can relate to the meaning of detachment from emotions contrary to the dry and academic Raja Yoga lecturer such as Dr.Prashant who never told us a personal story; what I understood from his lecture is not to let emotion sink in but to eliminate them from our soul consciousness.  My nephew William tried to explain that raja yoga focus on the personal qualities of love, security, knowledge of the whole, and courage.)

Morrie said that what gives real satisfaction is not money or power or material belongings but the possibility of offering something that you have.  Offering to teach elderly people computer skills, storytelling for kids, companionship to lonely and homeless people by playing cards, just giving your time to someone who can enjoy what you have to offer. 

That is how you get respect because you are needed.  Morrie told Mitch a story: “a little wave in the ocean was having a great time when she saw the waves ahead of her crashing against the shore and she started to look grim. A second wave behind her asked her why she is looking so sad and she said that all of us are going to be nothing.  The second wave told her: “you are not a wave; you’re part of the ocean.”

On the twelfth Tuesday they talked about forgiveness and Morrie said: “You’ve got to learn to forgive yourself before you die for all the things you should have done and then forgive others and make peace with everyone around you.  Pride and vanity are the culprits for wasting sound and special relationships.”

On the thirteenth Tuesday, Mitch learned that Morrie wanted to be cremated and told his rabbi: “Make sure they don’t overcook me.” He said that in hospital they pull a sheet up over the dead patient and wheel the body to a chute and push it down as if death is contagious. Morrie thought last night that it was the end and a certain peace fell upon him; the sensation of accepting what was happening, being at peace like being ready to crossing a bridge into the unknown.  Morrie felt that he could cross the bridge if he wanted. 

The hardest thing is to make peace with living.  We are different from plants and animals in that we can remember the feeling of love we had; you live on in the hearts of everyone you have touched and nurtured.  Death ends a life, not a relationship.

Mitch asked Morrie what he would do if he knew that he could be normal for 24 hours and he said: “I’ll do my exercises, have my favorite breakfast, go for a swim and invite friends over for lunch; talk about families and their issues, then go for a walk in a garden and take in the nature. In the evening we’d all go to a restaurant and dance the rest of the night and then have a deep sleep.” It was perfection of an average day.

In business, people negotiate to win but in love you should be concerned about the partner’s situation as you are about your own.

On the fourteenth Tuesday, Mitch received a call from Charlotte telling him that Morrie was not doing well.  Morrie said: “You are a good soul. You touched me in my heart” and laid Mitch’s hand on his heart and kept it there.




November 2022

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