illustration of author Mitch Albom sitting next to Morrie Schwartz, who is lying in a bed

Tuesdays With Morrie

by Mitch Albom

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Chapter 19 Summary

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In “The Ninth Tuesday: We Talk About How Love Goes On,” the summer has ended and autumn has begun. Albom’s newspaper is still on strike, and the process has stagnated. Meanwhile, televised news is still broadcasting depressing stories. The primary concern for most Americans has become the O. J. Simpson trial. Meanwhile, Albom explains that he had been trying to contact his brother in Spain. Morrie’s health has continued to worsen, and he now has a catheter in his penis, which allows him to urinate. While he cannot control his legs, they still give him pain. Finally, he can no longer move his head.

Morrie explains that Ted Koppel and Newsline are thinking about doing a third interview. However, Albom is irritated to learn that they want to wait a little longer before doing the interview. Morrie acknowledges that the show might be trying to create a little extra drama, but he is also using the networks to spread his message. He explains that he does not feel that he will be forgotten after his death because he has managed to reach so many people during his illness. In particular, he feels that as long as Albom can hear his voice, he will live on; this suggests that Morrie’s legacy is centered on his final message. Morrie shares that he has decided what he wants to write on his tombstone. Unlike Ted Turner, who declared that he did not want to have “I never owned a network” written on his tombstone, Morrie would like to have “A Teacher to the Last” written on his tombstone.

The conversation turns to paying attention to people. Albom admits that he appreciates the way Morrie responds to his presence. Morrie explains that he believes in being fully present and engaged in his present company rather than being distracted. Albom recalls a Brandeis University class with Morrie, Group Process. At the time, the class had not impressed Albom because it did not seem important to learn how to pay attention to people. Now, with Morrie so close to dying, it would not be surprising if he were to focus on his own problems. Instead, he takes the time to talk to Albom, and Albom values this gift.

Morrie discusses the difference between making small talk and really listening to people. Albom observes that Morrie is like the father everyone wishes they had. Morrie explains that he lost his own father prematurely. Charlie Schwartz was mugged; after giving up his wallet, he ran all the way to a relative’s house, where he died of a heart attack. Morrie had to identify the body. He found himself conflicted between grief and anger over having to pretend that his stepmother, Eva, was his biological mother. Morrie is determined to die in a way that is full of love and compassion.

The chapter closes with a statement about the Desana, a tribe from the South American rainforest. They believe there is a constant amount of energy in the universe that flows among all creatures. Therefore, all deaths and births are linked together through the transfer of this energy. Both Albom and Morrie admire this outlook.

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