The Rose

Looking through my files the other day, I found this forward. I do not remember who sent it to me, but I thank them… I find a lot of truth in it,  and hope you will too.

The first day of class, I felt someone tap 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.”

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

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.

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




Filed under Writing

11 responses to “The Rose

  1. Those of you who so like the messages in The Rose, might also value this old Classic. To me, it’s about the having fun part of life, as well as dreaming. “Happy talkie’, talkin’, happy talk….”

  2. Sara Bateman

    My Mother’s name was Rose, I still miss her, in her life she brought many amazing things to the people around her. Of course we played “The Rose” at her funeral. Thank you for a wonderful post and sharing true and simple wisdom.

    • You are welcome Sara. I’ve known several women named Rose and they were all wonderful. My mother was Margaret… I still miss her too, every day. My daughter is named for her.

  3. Thanks so much, Joanna–it’s an exquisite piece!

  4. This piece touched me, Joanna. Your words (or Rose’s!) ring true. I know people half my age and with twice my material resources who are walking around dead on the inside. Really, there are only two ingredients for a successful and happy life – someone to love and something to live for.

    Your observations about age likewise are accurate. So many people view the number of their years as determinative of everything. As if they were required to stop living – or stop meaningful living – because of where the hands are positioned on the clock.

    In the last decade or so that I lived in the States I did a lot of cycling (as in bicycle). I was addicted to long distance cycling (100+ miles at a time), and not infrequently I raced bicycles. At 50+ years of age I got good enough to beat (sometimes) guys who could have been my son. I was pretty impressed with myself – until I participated in higher level events where men 65, 70 even 75 years of age zoomed by me at the finish line.

    Wine gets better with age, Joanna.

    Edward V. Byrne

  5. Larry

    Thanks for a the gentle reminder! I don’t ever want to grow up! What a beautiful transition to the next level in the journey of our soul! Love you, Joanna! See you on Tuesday!!!!

    • Thanks Alinde, Edward and Larry. We all agree that age is a question of attitude. Sure we need to concede a bit to stiff knees and so on… but we must fight tooth and nail, against allowing our horizons to shrink. Work at keeping an open mind and spontaneity… Life has lots to offer at every age.

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