“You don’t stop laughing when you grow old, you grow old when you stop laughing.”
George Bernard Shaw
I had breakfast yesterday with an amazing friend. He is well up in years having graduated from Harvard more than sixty years ago. He told me that he and his wife have recently taken up ball room dancing, he also reported that he was presenting a paper which was the result of recent research he had done on the building of the hoover damn. This is a guy that has many gifts that he never allows to stagnate. He is more active than most young people I know, he is soon off to the East Coast to do a lot and see a lot and then he will wing to England to visit old haunts with his wife.
I have known him for ten years or so and been awestruck by his energy and accomplishments. When I was with some other folks from my generation the other day I was impressed with them as well for you see they never really stop, they may change paths now and then but they just keep going on enjoying life.
These folks reminded me of a story I probably sent you in the past but if so it is worth reading again.
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 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, have a couple of children, and then retire and travel.”
“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 share 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 the 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 years 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.
“The afternoon knows what the morning never suspected.”
A mother was showing her son how to zip up his coat. “The secret,” she said, “is to get the left part of the zipper to fit in the other side before you try to zip it up.”
The boy looked at her quizzically…”Why does it have to be a secret?”
I thought I had found the perfect date in the Personals when she said she liked country music, but what she failed to say was her country was Albania.
God: “Whew, I just created a 24-hour period of alternating light and darkness on earth.”
Angel: “Oh yeah? What are you going to do now?”
God: “I think I’ll call it a day.”
There is an ancient Jewish proverb that says that “A Jewish wife will forgive and forget, but she’ll never forget what she forgave.”
Three blondes died and found themselves standing before St. Peter. He told them that before they could enter the Kingdom, they had to tell him what Easter represented.
The first blonde said, “Easter is a holiday where they have a big feast and we give thanks and eat turkey.”
St. Peter said, “Noooooo,” and he banished her to Hell.
The second blonde said, “Easter is when we celebrate Jesus’ birth and exchange gifts.”
St. Peter said, “Noooooo,” and he banished her to Hell.
The third blonde said she knew what Easter was.
St. Peter said, “So, tell me.”
She said, ” Easter is a Christian holiday that coincides with the Jewish festival of Passover. Jesus was having Passover feast with His disciples when He was betrayed by Judas, and the Romans arrested Him. The Romans hung Him on the cross and eventually He died. Then they buried Him in a tomb behind a very large boulder…
St. Peter said, “Verrrrrry good.”
Then the blonde continued, “Now, every year the Jews roll away the boulder and Jesus comes out. If he sees his shadow, we have six more weeks of basketball.”
St. Peter fainted.
Doctor to patient: I have good news and bad news. The good news is that you are not a hypochondriac.
“Did your wife have much to say when you got home last night?”
“No, but that didn’t keep her from talking for two hours.”
“Are you saying that your wife is outspoken?”
“Not by anyone I know of.”
To keep the heart unwrinkled, to be hopeful, kindly, cheerful, reverent – that is to triumph over old age.
Thomas Bailey Aldrich
Stay well, do good work, and have fun.
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