April 28, 2006

A Rose Is A Rose Is A Rose

My Mom used to call me Prince Rainier; she wanted me to grow old with Grace! (gleefully stolen from the routines of Red Skelton). But one can grow old with grace as evidenced by the following:

I have absolutely no idea if this is a true story, but it was sent to me by a former student and a good friend. So, sit back, read and enjoy!

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, 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'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."

(this cracked me up!)

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 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 year's 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.

I challenge you to put Rose's principles to the test, laugh, love, play, dream big, have no regrets for things not done.

Linked to Woman, Honor Thyself

Posted by GM Roper at April 28, 2006 09:00 PM

That was heartwarming, and full of wisdom.
Thanks GM!

Posted by Ben USN (Ret) at April 29, 2006 04:43 PM

GM, I got my third Master's after leaving the Marines. Thus, I was much older than most of the grad students.

But wait! In some of the upper division classes I had to attend was a senior. His name was Wallace (first name). He was really a senior X 2. He actually began his college career in 1940. However, in Dec 1941, just after Pearl Harbor, he enlisted in the Army. Very bright guy, he was sent as a T5 (I can explain later if you don't know) to a tony school back East to study engineering with a very large group of other lads.

Fast Forward. By 1944, the Army didn't need more engineers, but they did need infantrymen. All of his group were sent to the ETO - toot sweet. He arrived in time for....the Battle of the Bulge and the slog into Germany.

After the war, he came back to France to study art. He married a French girl. He went to San Francisco (a FAR different city then) and opened a commerical art firm...and did very well.

Fast forward again. At 65 he sold his firm and retired in Santa Rosa, CA. His children were grown and he was casting around for things to do. He decided to get his degree. That is where I met him. It was really funny in some classes. This smallish man (by then in his early 70s), very well dressed (alway wore a coat and tie to classes) would every once in a while, most politely, raise his hand and correct a history PhD. As Wallace was a first hand participant, he could correct some fallacies in some professors lectures.

He did get his BA in History. He was specially recognized as the oldest student to be awarded a bachelor's degree at that time. I was lucky to have a small part in making that happen. Too soon thereafter, most sadly, his wife of many years died.

Myself and others encouraged him to continue. I am delighted to report that while he is even older and had some physical maladies to hurdle, he is now nearing completion of his MA in History. He is a delight. He is very modest. He is a gentleman of the old school. Most polite to ladies and gentlemen. I am sure the radical, PC, dunderheads cannot understand him at all.

I go to see him when I can, though he lives in another state. We write and we call. He is the "Rose" in my life. What a terrific example for me and others. It is an honor to know him...who lay in the snow of the Ardennes in December '44. Freezing, hungry, scared...but blazing away with his M-1...and saving the world for the rest of us. Note: He never speaks of the war or his participation. I, military historian...of small repute...winnowed this out in research. Again, an honor and an example for us all.

Posted by tad at April 30, 2006 09:45 AM

Damn this brought tears to my eyes. I'm using a part of this for a quote GM. It's pieces of wisdom like this that make life worth living!

Posted by Raven at May 2, 2006 06:59 PM

Ah..inspirational as always GM!...thanks for the link..we'll get this trackback workin yet!..grinz

Posted by Angel at May 2, 2006 07:26 PM

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