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 mewith a smile that lit up her entire being. She said, 'Hi handsome.
My name is Rose. I'm eighty-seven years old. CanI 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 asked. She jokingly replied, 'I'm here to meet a rich husband, get married, andhave 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 chocolate milkshake. 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 inthe attention bestowed upon her from the other students. She was livingit up. At the end of the semester we invited Rose to speak at our footballbanquet. I'll never forget what she taught us. She was introduced and stepped up to the podium. 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 andsimply said, 'I'm sorry I'm so jittery. I gave up beer for Lent an dthis whiskey is killing me! I'll never get my speech back in order solet me just tell you what I know.'
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 achievingsuccess. You have to laugh and find humor every day. You've got to havea dream. When you lose your dreams, you die.
We have so many people walking around who are dead and don't even knowit!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'tDo 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 anythingI 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 forthings 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 hadbegun 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 tobe All you can possibly be. When you finish reading this, please send this peaceful word of adviceTo your friends and family,
GROWING OLDER IS MANDATORY. GROWING UP IS OPTIONAL. We make aLiving by what we get, We make a Life by what we give. God promises a safe landing, not a calm passage. If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it.