Tuesdays With Morrie: Go Along for the Journey

I returned to Tuesdays With Morrie and the book by Mitch Albom taught me lessons I had missed the first time around.

One day a week. Fourteen weeks. Morrie Schwartz, retired Brandeis University sociology professor, and Mitch Albom, a former student, later a noted Detroit sports journalist.

Enter ALS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, aka Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

Morrie, in his 70s, teaches one last class, mostly in his Boston study, with Mitch, a student from 16 years before. With little time left, Morrie guides his favorite student through a study of life—and death.

Tuesdays With Morrie was (and is) a huge hit and was adapted into a TV movie and a Broadway play.

For me, it is more than a book. It is a story about two guides who don’t let the ending spoil their final journey together.

A Tragic Tale of a Gifted President, a Gunman, and Bad Medicine

James Garfield came out of nowhere to win the Republican nomination and become the 20th president of the United States in 1881.

If not for a bullet and questionable medical care, he could have been one of the greatest leaders in American history.

Candice Millard, in Destiny Republic, has created a riveting presidential biography about a brilliant man and one of the most gifted White House residents.

Millard, author of River of Doubt, my favorite book about Teddy Roosevelt, tells Garfield’s tragic story as if she lived during his time. A passionate civil rights advocate and Civil War hero, Garfield was struck down by deranged gunman Charles Guiteau. The president’s life lingered for more than two months and he died when European medical advances likely would have saved him.

He served just six months and died despite desperate attempts by inventor Alexander Graham Bell to prevent his death. Garfield’s doctor, Willard Bliss, rejected European medical advances that most likely would have allowed him to live, leading some to say “ignorance is Bliss.”

Less than two decades after Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, Garfield walked the streets of Washington D.C. without guards, thinking lightning wouldn’t strike down another president. Lincoln’s son, Robert Todd Lincoln, secretary of war, was present when Garfield was shot.

There are enough twists in Destiny Republic that Millard’s book may lead you to say, “Indeed, life is stranger than fiction.”