With schools all over the country headed toward graduation, I read this story by an individual who did not identify himself by name. But having taught in schools for thirteen years I can relate to it. But it’s more than just the story, it’s the message it brings. I hope you enjoy it.

In looking back, the young gentleman tells how on the first day of school their professor introduced himself and encouraged us to get to know someone we didn’t already know. As he stood up to look around, he felt a gentle hand touch his shoulder. He turned around to find a wrinkled, little old lady beaming up at him with a big 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?” He laughed and enthusiastically responded, “Of course you may!” and she gave him a giant squeeze.

Why are you in college at such a young, innocent age?” he asked. She jokingly replied, “I’m here to meet a rich husband, get married, have a couple of children, and then retire and travel.” This made him almost double over in laughter. “No seriously,” he asked. He was curious about what may have motivated her to be taking on this challenge of completing her college education at such an advanced age. “I’ve always dreamed of finishing my college education to earn a degree, and now I’m getting one!” she replied with a smile.

After class they walked to the student union building and shared a chocolate milkshake. They became instant friends. Every day for the next three months they would leave class together and talk nonstop. He was always mesmerized listening to this “living time machine” as she shared her wisdom and experience with him.

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 really living it up.

At the end of the semester they invited Rose to speak at their football banquet. He said he’ll never forget what she taught them. 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 Ensure for Lent and this Five Hour Energy Drink is making my head spin! I’ll never get my speech back in order so let me just tell you what I know.” As they all laughed she cleared her throat and began speaking:

She told them that 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, and they are:

  1. You have to laugh and find humor in something 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 were to lie in bed for one full year and don’t do one productive thing, you will still turn twenty years old, but you won’t grow any smarter. I am eighty-seven years old now and if I stayed in bed for a year and never did anything I will turn eighty-eight. So anybody can grow older. That doesn’t take any talent or ability. The whole idea in life is to grow up by always looking for opportunities that help you mature.
  4. Have no regrets. The elderly usually don’t have regrets for what they did, but rather for things they didn’t do. The only people who fear death are those with regrets.

She concluded her speech by courageously singing “The Rose.” The whole room grew silent as she sang in her somewhat quivering voice:

Some say love, it is a river, that drowns the tender reed
Some say love, it is a razor, that leaves your soul to bleed
Some say love, it is a hunger, an endless aching need
I say love, it is a flower, and you, its only seed

Its the heart afraid of breaking, that never learns to dance
Its the dream afraid of waking, that never takes the chance
Its the one who won’t be taking, who cannot seem to give
And the soul afraid of dying, that never learns to live.

After she finished, she challenged each of person in the hall to study the lyrics and live them out in their daily lives.

At the years end Rose finished the college degree she began all those years ago. Then, just 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.


I was thirty-four years old before I was able to go back to college to finish my undergrad education. It would take another ten years before I experienced the joy of walking across the platform to receive my doctorate degree in theology. I’ve never stopped wanting to learn. I’ve found that it gives me a purpose everyday for being here on earth.

Each morning now, my wife Aurora and I pray and tell the Lord that we are ready to serve Him in whatever way He chooses to use us. That’s why we can’t wait to wake up in the morning looking for the plans God has for us each day. You are going to grow old whether you want to or not, but continuing to grow up is your decision. We’ve decided that rather than spending our day we want to invest in our day so that instead of ending at the end feeling spent, we end up feeling enriched. – Dr. Robert R Seyda

About drbob76

Retired missionary, pastor, seminary professor, Board Certified Chaplain and American Cancer Society Hope Lodge Director.
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