A Rose for Christmas
Its never too late to be all you can possibly be. These profound words and the following inspirational story were told to me by a young friend of mine.
The first day of school our professor introduced himself and challenged us to get to know someone we didnt 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. Im 87 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, Im here to meet a rich husband, get married and have a couple of kids... .
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 am getting one! she told me.
After class we walked to the student union building and shared a chocolate milk shake. 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. Ill 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 3x5 cards on the floor. Frustrated and a little embarrassed, she leaned into the microphone and simply said, Im sorry Im so jittery. I gave up beer for lent and this whiskey is killing me! Ill 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; youve got to have a dream. When you lose your dreams, you die. We have so many people who are dead and dont 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 dont do one productive thing, you will turn twenty 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 doesnt take any talent or ability. The deal is to grow up by always finding opportunity in change.
Have no regrets. We elderly usually dont 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 singing the Rose. She challenged each of us to study the lyrics and live them out in our daily lives.
love, it is a river
At the years end, Rose finished the college degree she had begun all those years ago. Just before Christmas, Rose died peacefully in her sleep. Over 2,000 college students attended her funeral in tribute to the wonderful woman who taught by example that its never too late to be all you can possibly be. Merry Christmas to Rose, to all my loved ones and to all my friends.
Jim is Vice-Commander of American Legion
Post #219. He served as a combat infantryman in WWII,
fighting in France and Germany with the 70th Infantry
Division. You can email him with questions or comments
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