I rang the bell and was greeted not by Connie but by Morrie’s wife, Charlotte, a beautiful gray-haired woman who spoke in a lilting voice. She was not often at home when I came by—she continued working at MIT, as Morrie wished—and I was surprised this morning to see her. . . .
I lifted up the bags from the market—my normal food supply, I said jokingly—and she seemed to smile and fret at the same time.
“There’s already so much food. He hasn’t eaten any from last time.”
The author, Mitch, describes a morning on which Charlotte did not go to work as usual and is there to greet him. This morning, she finally is able to point out to Mitch that his regular deliveries of food are no longer necessary or even wanted due to the progression of Morrie’s illness. Morrie would never tell Mitch to stop bringing the food since he knows the act gives Mitch pleasure. Charlotte seems more practical than her husband.
Charlotte and Morrie, who met as students, had been married forty-four years. I watched them together now, when she would remind him of his medication, or come in and stroke his neck, or talk about one of their sons. They worked as a team, often needing no more than a silent glance to understand what the other was thinking.
Mitch admires the long partnership of Morrie and Charlotte. Not only can they communicate silently, they also still seem to care deeply about one another. Although the strain put on their relationship and their lives overall from Morrie’s illness must be enormous, the strong foundation built by their decades together means that their day-to-day interactions remain almost normal.
Charlotte was a private person, different from Morrie, but I knew how much he respected her, because sometimes when we spoke, he would say, “Charlotte might be uncomfortable with me revealing this,” and he would end the conversation. It was the only time Morrie held anything back.
Charlotte and Morrie appear to be very different. Morrie loves to share his stories and his emotions, especially if he thinks they will help others. So Morrie shows both his respect for and his understanding of Charlotte when he recognizes what she would not want to share and then holds such a story back. In fact, Morrie reveals almost nothing specific about his marriage, though he makes clear that a strong one is a blessing.