I was flabbergasted as an old lady addressed me “Hi handsome. I am Rose, eighty-seven years old. Can I have a hello with you?”
Surprised, I hesitated a moment but responded, “Of course you may!” and she gave me a giant hand shake. Her body was more bones than flesh.
She happen to be my course mate. “Why are you in college at such a young, innocent age?” I asked, little confused. She replied in her apparent seriousness “I’m here to meet a rich husband, get married, and have a couple of kids…”
She was an instantly likeable person, easy going, affable. However, I was curious what may have motivated her to be taking on this challenge at her age.
“I always dreamed of having college education. Now I realized that I can't postpone it any further. So here I am. Like me?” she asked. "Yes, of course". I said.
After class, as we walked, we shared a chocolate milkshake. We were instant friends. Every day for the next three months, we would leave class together and talk non-stop. I was always mesmerized listening to this “Time Machine”, as she shared her wisdom and experiences of long wise life with me.
Over the course of year, Rose became a campus icon since she easily made friends wherever she went. She loved to dress well and revelled in the attention bestowed upon her by other students and faculty alike. She, definitely, 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 podium. As she began to deliver her prepared speech, she dropped her 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". She was now speaking flaw-lessly ex-tempore, as if living those eighty seven years all over again. It was pin drop silence. Everyone was truly mesmerized by this little frail women carrying the weight of her words in tons. Everyone seemed to be accompanying her down memory lane. It was a speech par excellence, the Best I had heard, perhaps the Best I am going to hear in my life time.
As per her, there are Four Secrets to Staying Young, Being Happy and Achieving Success.
1. You have to laugh and find humour every day.
2. 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!
3. 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.
4. Have no regrets. The elderly usually don’t have regrets for what THEY 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 .
REMEMBER, GROWING OLDER IS MANDATORY. GROWING UP IS OPTIONAL.
We make a living by what we get but We make a LIFE by what we GIVE.