The first day of school our professor
introduced himself and challenged us t
o 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 asked. 

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 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 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 daily lives.

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.

If you read this, please send
this peaceful word of advice
to your friends and family,
they'll really enjoy it!

GROWING OLDER IS MANDATORY, 
GROWING UP IS OPTIONAL.