In “The Fifth Tuesday: We Talk About Family,” Morrie’s illness continues to worsen. Albom emphasizes this by explaining that the tape recorder he had begin to bring to their meetings no longer works well because its microphone is too heavy for Morrie to hold. Now they use a microphone that clips onto Morrie’s loose sweater. The sweater is so loose that Albom sometimes has to readjust it, which Morrie likes because he now craves physical contact on a regular basis.
When they begin to discuss the importance of family, Albom is concerned about his relationships with his own family. At this point, Albom has concentrated on his career to the exclusion of everything else. He views parenting as a sort of anchor that will restrict his freedom. However, seeing how much Morrie has enjoyed the affection of his family, which is displayed in photos on the walls around him, Albom begins to wonder what it would be like to be old and alone. He wonders, would it not be unbearably lonely? Furthermore, Morrie suggests that family is the only foundation upon which people can build their lives.
They next begin to compare their families. Both Morrie and Albom have younger brothers, but their relationships with their brothers are very different. Mitch Albom explains that he has always been different from his younger brother. He had dark hair, got good grades, and avoided alcohol and drugs. His brother was the exact opposite and upon growing up moved to Europe so he could live a more relaxed lifestyle. After their uncle died, Albom threw himself into his work to gain a sense of control over his life before he might likewise die of cancer. However, it ended up being his brother who was diagnosed with cancer—pancreatic cancer, the same rare form their uncle died of.
Albom’s brother was able to battle his cancer into remission but chose to do so alone. He cut himself off from his family and rarely answered their messages. Now, Albom finds himself wondering about his relationship with his younger brother. He suspects that Morrie is aware of his student’s inner turmoil and that their sessions may have an impact on the Albom brothers’ relationship.
Albom closes the chapter reminiscing about a time that he and his brother were tobogganing in winter. Plunging down the hill, one brother on top of the other, they suddenly realized that a car was coming and that they had to roll off the sled. They nearly died together. As adults, one of them has battled cancer, and they barely speak to each other.