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,
have a couple of children, and then retire and travel."
"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 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 and 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 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 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 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
the 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
At the years 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.
These words have been passed along in loving memory of ROSE. Remember...GROWING
OLDER IS MANDATORY, GROWING UP IS OPTIONAL!