Mitch relates in Chapter 3 that his favorite uncle died at a young age of pancreatic cancer. Mitch lived downstairs from him and watched his uncle die. Before this point, Mitch was invested in trying to become a musician but was meeting with little success. After this point, he changed his mind about his career and felt that time was a precious commodity. He went to graduate school for journalism and took a job as a sports reporter. He also decided to stop renting an apartment and to buy property, and he threw himself into his work with a passion. He describes himself as constantly operating in "fifth gear," and he even exercised like a "demon." He also decided to get married, but he was so busy dedicating himself to work that he did not have children. Busy trying to rack up accomplishments, he threw away mail that came from his alma mater, Brandeis University, so he did not realize his former beloved professor, Morrie, was sick until later.
In chapter 3, called "The Student" Mitch tells of his encounter with death. He writes about his favorite uncle dying at an early age of pancreatic cancer. This was the uncle that Mitch had wanted to be like when he grew up. This was the uncle that had taught him to drive, to play the music he loved so much, and taught him about girls. He spent the last year of his uncle's life living in an apartment below his uncle and his family. After his uncle died Mitch writes that he felt that time was suddenly precious and he couldn't get enough done fast enough. He enrolled in school and got his Master's degree in Journalism. His career took off and he worked hard and long to use the time before time could use him.