On the first day of college, our professor introduced himself and challenged us to get to know someone. I stood up to look around. A gentle hand touched my shoulder. I turned around to find a wrinkled, little old lady cheering me up with a bright smile.
She said, “Hi handsome. My name is Sajon. I’m eighty-seven years old. Can I give you a smile?” I laughed and enthusiastically responded, “Of course you may!” and she gave me a giant pleasant smile.
“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 left the class together and talked 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, Sajon became a campus icon and she easily made friends wherever she went. She loved to dress up and enjoyed the attention given upon her from the other students. She was living it up. At the end of the year, we invited Sajon to speak at our football fest. I will never forget what she taught us. She was stepping up to a podium and introduced herself.
She began to deliver her prepared speech. Frustrated and a little embarrassed she leaned into the microphone and simply said, “I’m sorry I’m so nervous. 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 stay young: being happy, achieving success, laughing and finding humor every day.
You have 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.” She concluded her speech by courageously singing “The Sajon”. She challenged each of us to study the lyrics and live them out in our daily lives.
At the year’s end, Sajon finished the college degree she had begun all those years ago. One week after graduation Sajon died peacefully in her sleep. Over two thousand college students attended her burial 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 Sajon. REMEMBER, GROWING OLDER IS MANDATORY. GROWING UP IS VOLUNTARY.
We make a Living by what we get, we make a Life by what we give.