The first day of
school our professor introduced himself and challenged us to get to know
someone we didn't already know. I stood
up to look around when a gentle hand touched my shoulder. I turned around to find a wrinkled, little old
lady beaming up at me with a smile that
lit up her entire being.
She said, "Hi handsome. My name is Rose. I'm eighty-seven years old. Can I give
you a hug?"
I laughed and enthusiastically responded, "Of course you may!" and she gave me
a giant squeeze.
"Why are you in college at such a young, innocent age?" I
She jokingly replied, "I'm here to meet a rich husband, get married, and have a
couple of kids."
"No seriously", I asked. I was curious what may have motivated her to be taking
on this challenge at her age.
"I always dreamed of having a college education and now I'm getting one!" she
told me. After class we walked to the student union building and shared a
We became instant friends. Every day for the next three months, we would leave class together and talk
nonstop. I was always mesmerized listening to this 'time machine' as she shared
her wisdom and experience with me.
Over the course of the year, Rose became a campus icon and she easily made
friends wherever she went.. She loved to dress up and she reveled in the
attention bestowed upon her from the other students. She was living it up.
At the end of the semester we invited Rose to speak at our football banquet.
I'll never forget what she taught us. She was introduced and stepped up to the
As she began to deliver her prepared speech, she dropped her three by
five cards on the floor. Frustrated and a little embarrassed she leaned into the microphone and simply
said, "I'm sorry I'm so jittery. I gave up beer for Lent and this whiskey is
killing me! I'll never get my speech back in order so let me just tell you what
As we laughed she cleared her throat and began, "We do not stop playing
because we are old; we grow old because we stop playing. There are only four
secrets to staying young, being happy, and achieving success. You have to laugh
and find humor every day. You've got to have a dream. When you lose your
dreams, you die. We have so many people walking around who are dead and don't even know it!"
"There is a huge difference between growing
older and growing up. If you are nineteen years old and lie in bed for one full
year and don't do one productive thing, you will turn twenty years old. If I am eighty-seven years old and stay in bed
for a year and never do anything I will turn eighty-eight."
"Anybody can grow older. That doesn't take any talent or ability. The idea is to
grow up by always finding opportunity in change. Have no regrets. The elderly
usually don't have regrets for what we did, but rather for things we did not
do. The only people who fear death are those with regrets.'
She concluded her speech by courageously singing 'The Rose.' She challenged each of us to study the lyrics
and live them out in our daily lives. At the year's end Rose finished the
college degree she had begun all those years ago. One week after graduation Rose died peacefully
in her sleep. Over two thousand college students attended her funeral in
tribute to the wonderful woman who taught by example that it's never too late
to be all you can possibly be.
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