GROWING OLD WITHOUT FEAR

Posted: November 26, 2014 in Uncategorized
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WE tend to read more depressing stories about life, growing old and death but once in a while, you come across some exceptional and truly inspirational stories about growing old and why we do not need to fear our natural aging process.

We need a new mindset on accepting our aging with grace and satisfaction. We all grow old one day and die. It’s a question not so much of when but how. We would like to leave this world feeling satisfied that our achievements and memories would be treasured by our loved ones and friends.

I have the good fortune of coming across a beautiful short story, emailed by a friend from overseas, of an elderly US college student who returned to school to finish her degree and to fulfil her life-long dream. It’s one of those stories that may leave a lump in your throat after reading it. Here it is:

Her name is 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 round 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 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, “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 mesmerised 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 revelled 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.”

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 humour 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 19 years old and lie in bed for one full year and don’t do one productive thing, you will turn 20 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 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 2,000 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.

When you finish reading this, please send this peaceful word of advice to your friends and family, they’ll really enjoy it!

These words have been passed along in loving memory of ROSE.

REMEMBER, GROWING OLDER IS MANDATORY. GROWING UP IS OPTIONAL.

We make a Living by what we get, We make a Life by what we give.

For the benefit of readers, the above story would not be complete without quoting from the meaningful lyrics of The Rose, written by Amanda McBroom and popularised by Bette Midler.

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.

It’s the heart afraid of breaking, That never learns to dance.
It’s the dream afraid of waking, That never takes the chance.
It’s the one who won’t be taken, Who cannot seem to give,
And the soul afraid of dyin’, That never learns to live.

When the night has been too lonely, And the road has been too long,
And you think that love is only, For the lucky and the strong,
Just remember in the winter, Far beneath the bitter snows
Lies the seed that with the sun’s love, In the spring becomes the rose.

The story of Rose is credited to motivational speaker Dan Clark, who published it under the title Never Too Old to Live Your Dream in the 1999 book Chicken Soup for the College. It has not been established if it’s a real life story or fiction but there have been real cases of people graduating in their 80s and even 90s. Does it matter if it’s a real life story? It is still a beautiful story to tell and share with all readers.

The columnist is a strong believer in the power and beauty of positive thinking.

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