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Rose

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 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 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 protective 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.