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 to me with a smile that lit up her entire being.
She said “Hi, handsome. My name is Rose. I’m 87 years old. Can I give you a hug?”
I laughed and enthusiastically responded “Of course you may!” And she gave me a gigant 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, have a couple of kids …”
“No, seriously,” I asked.
I was curious as to what had motivated her to be taking on this challenge at her age.
“I always dreamed about 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” and she shared her wisdom and experience with me.

Over the course of the year, Rose became a campus icon easily making friends wherever she went. She loved to dress up and she reveled in the attention bestowed upon her by 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 had taught us!
She was introduced and stepped up to the podium. As she began to deliver her prepared speech, she dropped her index cards on the floor.
Frustrated and a little bit embarassed, she leaned into the microphone and simply said “I’m sorry, but I’m so jittery. I’ll never get my speech back in order so let me just tell you what I know.”
As we applauded, she cleared her throat and began …
“There are ONLY FOUR SECRETS to staying young, being happy and achieving success:

1. You have to laugh and find humour every day. We do not stop playing because we are old, we grow old because we stop playing!

2. You’ve GOT to have a dream! When you lose your dreams, you die. There are so many people walking around who are dead and don’t even know it!

3. There is a HUGE difference between growing older and growing up. If you’re 19 years old and lie in bed for a full year and don’t do a productive thing, you will turn 20 years old. If I am 87 years old and stay in bed for a year and never do anything, I will turn 88. 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!

4. 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!

Rose concluded her speech by singing Bette Midler’s song “The Rose”. Then she challenged each of us to study the lyrics and live them out in our daily lives.

At the years end, Rose completed the college degree she had begun all those years ago.
One week after graduation, Rose dies peacefully in her sleep. More that 2000 college students attended the funeral in tribute to the wonderful woman who taught by example that it’s never too late to be all you can possibly be!

Remember … growing OLD is mandatory. Growing UP – is optional!
And: we make a living by what we GET. We make a life – by what we GIVE


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