Tuesdays with Morrie is a true-to-life story about a sports writer, Mitch Albom, (who is also the author of the book), who looks after his old college professor, Morrie Schwartz, after hearing of his illness and soon the relationship between them rekindles after years apart.
The setting of the story is in Morrie's home in West Newton, Massachusetts.
The two main characters of the book are Mitch Albom and Morrie Schwartz. Mitch Albom earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, where met and studied under his beloved professor, Morrie Schwartz. In 1982, Albom was awarded a Masters degree from Columbia University in New York. After failed stints as an amateur boxer and nightclub musician, Albom began his career as a sports journalist, writing articles for newspapers such as the The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Detroit Free Press where he was employed from 1985 until his reunion with Morrie in 1995. Albom also has his own nationally syndicated radio show, Monday Sports Albom. In 1995, Albom began gathering notes for his book, Tuesdays With Morrie, which documents his and Morrie's discussions on the meaning of life which they hold each Tuesday of every week in Morrie's home. On the other hand, Morrie Schwartz began teaching sociology in 1959 at Brandeis. It was not until 1995, when he was dying from ALS, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, that Morrie ended his career as a professor. A fatal neuromuscular disease, ALS is characterized by progressive muscle debilitation that ultimately results in paralysis. ALS is commonly known as Lou Gherig's disease, after the famous baseball player who died of the disease in 1941 at the age of forty.
Mitch Albom recalls his graduation from Brandeis University in the spring of 1979. After he has received his diploma, Mitch approaches his favorite professor, Morrie Schwartz, and presents him with a monogrammed briefcase. He promises Morrie, who is crying, that he will keep in touch, though he does not fulfill his promise. Years after Mitch's graduation from Brandeis, Morrie is forced to give up dancing, his favorite hobby, because he has been diagnosed with ALS and his wife, Charlotte, cares for him, though at his insistence, keeps her job as a professor at M.I.T.
Sixteen years after his graduation from Brandeis, Mitch is feeling frustrated with the life he has chosen to live. He abandons his failing career as a musician to become a well-payed journalist for a Detroit newspaper. One night, Mitch is flipping the channels on his television and recognizes Morrie's voice. He saw that Morrie is being featured on the television program "Nightline" in the first of three interviews with Ted Koppel, whom he quickly befriends. Before consenting to be interviewed, Morrie surprises and softens the famed newscaster when he asks Koppel what is "close to his heart." Mitch is stunned to see his former professor on television. Because of this, Mitch contacts his beloved professor and travels from his home in Detroit to Morrie's home in West Newton, Massachusetts to visit with him. When Mitch drives up to Morrie's house, he delays greeting his professor because he is speaking on the phone with his producer, a decision he later regrets.
Following their first Tuesday together, Mitch returns regularly every Tuesday to listen to Morrie's lessons on "The Meaning of Life." Each week, Mitch brings Morrie food to eat, though as Morrie's condition worsens he is no longer able to enjoy solid food. In his first of three interviews with Koppel for "Nightline," Morrie admits that the thing he dreads most about his worsening condition is that someday, he will not be able to wipe himself after using the bathroom. Eventually, this fear comes true.
In his lessons, Morrie advises Mitch to reject the popular culture in favor of creating his own. The individualistic culture Morrie encourages Mitch to create for himself is a culture founded on love, acceptance, and human goodness, a culture that upholds a set of ethical values unlike the mores that popular culture endorses. Popular culture, Morrie says, is founded on greed, selfishness, and superficiality, which he urges Mitch to overcome. Morrie also stresses that he and Mitch must accept death and aging, as both
On one Tuesday, Janine travels with Mitch to visit Morrie. Janine is a professional singer, and Morrie asks her to sing for him. Though she does not usually sing upon request, Janine concedes, and her voice moves Morrie to tears. Morrie cries freely and often, and continually encourages Mitch to do so also. As Morrie's condition deteriorates, so does that of the pink hibiscus plant that sits on the window ledge in his study.