The Audiovisual, Part Two

Ted Koppel interviews Morrie for a second time. Koppel comments that Morrie "looks fine," and Morrie replies that only he can know the deterioration that is taking place daily, which is evident in his garbled speaking. Morrie explains that his love r elationships sustain his high spirits. He mentions a dear friend, Maurie Stein, who had sent Morrie's aphorisms to a reporter from the Boston Globe newspaper. The men had both been at Brandeis University during the early 1960's. Now, Maurie is deaf, and Morrie will soon be mute. Koppel asks how the two will communicate, and Morrie answers that they will hold hands; after thirty-five years of friendship, they do not need speech or hearing to communicate with one another.

Since his first appearance on "Nightline," Morrie has received letters from viewers across the country. One woman, a teacher, writes that she has a special class of nine young students, all of whom have lost a parent to untimely death. Morrie is moved to tears by the letter, as he recalls his mother's death when he was a boy. He cries unabashedly on camera, and tells Koppel that he still feels the pain he felt seventy years ago upon learning of his mother's death.

The Professor

In a flashback to his childhood on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, Morrie recalls reading the telegram that brought the news of his mother's death. Because his father, a Russian immigrant, could not read English, eight-year-old Morrie was the first to r ead the news, and the one to tell it to the rest of his family. On the way to the funeral, his aunt, who was in hysterics, asked Morrie what he would do without his mother, and what would become of him now, without her to care for him. At this, Morrie bur sts into tears. His mother had been ill for a while, though Morrie, being a child, thought he could make her illness go away by ignoring it.

Morrie's father, Charlie, had come to America to escape the Russian Army. He seldom had work and the family had lived in absolute poverty. Following their mother's death, Morrie and his brother, David, were sent to live and work at a hotel in rura l Connecticut. One night, the boys played outside in the pouring rain. The next morning, David was unable to move his legs, as he had polio. However, Morrie thought that the rain had caused the paralysis, and had blamed himself for his brother's suffering . He went to the synagogue to pray for David and his deceased mother.

Morrie's father was not at all affectionate with his sons, but his second wife, Eva, gave the boys the tenderness and caring they longed for. Despite their immense poverty, Eva had stressed the importance of education, which Morrie took very seriously . Morrie had been told by his father not to mention his mother at all, as he wanted David to think that Eva was his natural mother. Morrie was burdened by this demand, and kept the telegram that had been sent to inform them of his mother's death, the only proof she had ever existed.

When Morrie was a teenager, his father had brought him to the fur factory where he worked to find him a job. Morrie was grateful that the factory could not hire him, as there were barely enough jobs for the adult workers. He hated the stifling, clinging a ir of the factory, and vowed never to do work that would exploit another. Thus, he had decided not to be a lawyer. Nor could he be a doctor, as he hated the sight of blood. By default, he had decided to become a teacher.