On the first day of school, our professor encouraged us to connect with someone new. As I scanned the room, I felt a gentle touch on my shoulder. Turning around, I met the warm gaze of a wrinkled, elderly woman whose smile radiated joy.

Introducing herself as Rose, she shared that she was eighty-seven years old and asked if she could hug me. I couldn’t help but laugh and gladly accepted her embrace.

Curious, I asked Rose why she had chosen to attend college at her age.

She jokingly replied, “I’m here to meet a rich husband, get married, and have a couple of kids…”

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“But seriously,” I insisted, curious about her true motivation for embarking on this journey at her age.

“I always dreamed of having a college education, and now I’m finally making it happen!” she replied earnestly.

After class, we strolled to the student union building and shared a chocolate milkshake, instantly becoming friends. For the next three months, we left class together every day, engrossed in conversation. I was captivated by her stories and insights, feeling like I was stepping into a “time machine” as she shared her wisdom and life experiences with me.

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 opportunities for 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.

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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 be.

You must hold onto your dreams. When you let go of them, you’re essentially giving up on life. Countless individuals walk through life like zombies, unaware that they’ve already lost their spark. Aging is inevitable, but true growth comes from embracing change and seizing opportunities.

Imagine a nineteen-year-old spending a year in bed without accomplishing anything. At the end of that year, they’ll turn twenty, having wasted precious time. Similarly, if I, at eighty-seven, were to spend a year inactive, I’d simply turn eighty-eight. Aging is a natural process, but maturity comes from actively engaging with life’s challenges and transformations.

Regret is a burden that weighs heavily on the elderly. It’s not the things we’ve done that haunt us, but rather the opportunities we’ve missed. Those who fear death are often those who look back on their lives with remorse for what they didn’t do.

She concluded her speech with a brave rendition of “The Rose,” leaving a lasting impact on everyone present. Encouraging each of us to embody the lyrics and apply them in our daily lives.

At the end of the academic year, Rose achieved her long-awaited college degree. Just one week after graduation, she peacefully passed away in her sleep.

Over two thousand college students attended her funeral, paying tribute to the remarkable woman who showed by example that it’s never too late to pursue your dreams and be the best version of yourself.

As you finish reading this, please share these uplifting words with your loved ones. They’ll surely appreciate the message.

These words are shared in the loving memory of ROSE.