I remember my first school day as vivid as it was yesterday. The professor came in, greeted us, told us his name and set a challenge for us – to get to know someone we previously didn’t know. Intrigued, I stood up and took a look around when a gentle hand landed on my shoulder. Confused, I looked behind to find the wrinkled face of an old lady who was smiling.
“Hello, I’m Rose and I’m 87 years old,” she said. She then asked me if she could get a hug to which I responded positively. Rose squeezed me hard and her face lit up with a smile. I was still confused. “Why are you in the school at your age?” Rose was in the mood for a joke. “I’m here to find a rich husband I can marry, have a few children, travel the world and then retire,” she said with a laugh.
I didn’t understand her and was pretty curious why she was at our school. “Well, I always dreamt of getting a degree, so here I am”. After the class was finished, I and Rose shared a chocolate milkshake in the cafeteria. Even at 87, Rose had the soul of a young person. We became great friends and talked every day after class. She was like a time machine and her mind was working pretty well for a person that old. It’s fair to say that I was amazed by Rose and I learned a lot from her experience.
Rose eventually became an icon at the university. She made friends with literally every student she met and reveled in the attention she was getting. At the end of the first year, we invited her to talk at the football banquet. We did not regret it – Rose delivered a great speech. “I’m sorry I’m jittery,” she said at the beginning. The whiskey’s killing me, so I’ll just drop the prepared speech and tell you what I know about life,” she said while we laughed.
“We never stop playing because of old age – we grow old because we stop playing. If you want to stay forever young, there are a few secrets. First, you need to laugh every day. Second, you’ve got to have a dream and chase it. Once we stop chasing our dreams, we die from the inside. There are many ‘walking dead’ among us and they don’t even realize it’s because their dreams died.”
“Growing old and growing up is different. We will all grow older – it’s not a special ability. However, in order to grow up, you need to find the opportunity and change. Third, have no regrets in life. Do what you want as you’ll regret not doing it later. In this way, you’ll never fear death”.
We were impressed by Rose’s speech. She concluded it by singing The Rose to a thundering applause. She told us to learn the lyrics of the song and try to live by it every day. Rose, the campus icon, graduated at the end of the year and surprised us all. She died a week later in her sleep with a smile on her face.
To this day, I live by the words of Rose and it’s made me a happier person. Try to enjoy a bit in life – stress will get in the way for sure but follow your dreams and don’t let anything stop you from what you want to do. I guarantee you’ll be far happier than right now.