The Tenth Tuesday: We Talk about Marriage
Morrie can no longer eat any of the food Mitch brings him, as he is restricted to a diet of liquids. His condition is drastically worse, as the disease has reached his lungs, which he had always said would mark his death. He is now reliant on an oxygen tank, and suffers violent, hour-long coughing spells, each a serious threat to his life.
Mitch brings his wife, Janine, with him to meet Morrie. Morrie had been asking to meet Janine since his first meetings with Mitch. One night, Morrie had been on the phone with Mitch, and he had asked to speak to Janine. Janine had taken the phone and conversed with Morrie as if they had been friends for many years, though they had never spoken before. Mitch thought that had he been put in her position, forced to speak on the phone with a complete stranger, he would have refused to take the call. When Janine had finished her conversation with Morrie, she announced that she would be joining Mitch on his next trip to Boston to meet his professor.
Morrie, Mitch reports, is a harmless flirt, and seems to have tapped new energy with Janine by his side. Janine is originally from Detroit, and Morrie tells a "funny story" about his time teaching at a university there. On occasion, he and the other sociology professors would congregate to play a game of poker. One of the other professors was a surgeon, and he had invited Morrie to join him at work to watch him perform a surgery. Morrie had gone to see the surgery, but was nauseated by the sight of blood. Just as he had felt ready to faint, one of the nurses mistook him for a doctor, and had asked if he was feeling well. Morrie had yelled at the nurse that he was not a doctor, and had stormed out of the room feeling sick.
Janine is a professional singer, and performs a song form Morrie when he asks her to, though she does not normally sing upon request. When she has finished singing, Morrie is so moved, he is crying. Afterwards, Morrie lectures Mitch and Janine on the how the culture of "kids today" makes "their generation" too selfish to commit to a loving relationship. Morrie and his wife, Charlotte, have been married for forty-four years. The only time Morrie will not reveal a personal anecdote is when he fears he may violate Charlotte's privacy. He says that marriage is a test; in it, you learn who you are, who the other person is, and how you can or cannot make the relationship work. Similar values, he says, are essential for partners to share, the greatest of which is the importance of the marriage itself. He advocates marriage as "a very important thing to do," and preaches that those who do not try it will miss out on a major life experience. Later, Mitch asks Morrie if he recalls the Book of Job from the Bible, the parable about a good man who God makes suffer only to test his religious faith. Morrie tells Mitch that in his opinion, God "overdid it."
The Eleventh Tuesday: We Talk about Our Culture
Morrie's disease is spreading to his lungs, and soon he will die of suffocation. His physical therapist instructs Mitch on how to free the poison in Morrie's lungs through pounding and massage. Mitch jokes that the blows are revenge for the B grade Morrie had given him in college.
Mitch is now less self-conscious and less embarrassed about helping Morrie. Now, he wants to observe and learn how to help him. Even Morrie is less embarrassed by his own physical handicaps, such as not being able to go to the bathroom without assistance. He reports that he and Morrie now hold hands regularly. Morrie complains that the culture deems that natural physical need is socially embarrassing, and thus we must reject it. Mitch asks him why he had not moved to a place with a less selfish culture. Morrie tells him that every culture has its own problems, thus he has created his own. The biggest problem with most cultures, he says, is its inability to visualize and utilize its potential. Morrie advises that we must "invest in people," as we need others not only at the very beginning and very end of our lives, but during our middle years, as well.
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