This is a Blog about being Blessed to be able to Come Full Circle in Life.
I count myself extremely grateful and lucky to be able to reach this Wise Age to have gravitas to write about this topic. I’m conscious that others may not have had the privelege to be so lucky.
On a cool Saturday night on 17 June 2023, I organised an informal 65th Anniversary School Cohort Dinner in my old school’s tuck shop with some former school classmates and two former teachers. We all need a rich reservoir of fond memories in our lives – ready to lift our spirits up and/or to put healing smiles on our faces.
This night is one fond memory I will always treasure.
Roughly about five decades (47+/- years) ago, me and my classmates left high school (secondary and junior college) to pursue our personal Life and Career Journeys.
I adore our meaningful school mottos – Up And On! and One Family Unbroken!
So on this particular Saturday night, we came back to “break bread” and have a kumbaya fellowship in sharing our stories with each other. I’m happy to see the ready smiles and food apetites that night.
Although I was the mastermind for the dinner, everyone played their part in bringing their pot-luck dinner contributions. I wanted to keep everyone’s identity a mystery so I can avoid starting another pesky chat-group. I only belong to four chat-groups … so far. I am also not on any social media.
As everyone was busy catching up with each others’ Stories, I observed their attentiveness and sincere interest, not least their heightened listening skills. So here we are – students (bookworms, scholars, rascals, teachers’ pets, teachers’ pests etc), prefects, teachers and one Disciplinary/Scout Master (I “kid” you not) – all happily sitting on hard spartan tuck shop (canteen) benches instead of the geriatric sofas with comfortable backrests.
My Grateful Thanks to the (1) Principal of St. Andrew’s Secondary School – Mr. Lee Han Hwa – for allowing me to have the canteen for the night. (2) to the School Operations Manager – Mr. Bhones – for giving me the nuclear codes for switching on the lights and fans in the canteen.
Oh yes, and the combination numbers to gain entries into the little Boys and Girls Rooms!
I figured keeping the dinner “informal” (20 invitees) would be an easier sell to hold the dinner in the school tuck shop instead of a full-blown formal dinner extravaganza with a mariachi band. To keep it simple, I simply invited the classmates who were in my iPhone’s Whatsapp list who were in recent contact with me. After all, communication is two-way, yes?
Thanks to all who came and brought delicious food! I’m thankful it didn’t rain and no one (as of writing this Blog) had gotten Covid from the event!
Mr. Victor Wee (Disciplinary and Scout Master) saying Grace before the glorious yummy food contributed by everyone is walloped (above image).
The delicious Anniversary cake was from the iconic Lana Cake Shop started by the legendary (now) 96 years young Violet Kwan (above image).
Although auntie Violet does not go to her shop very often hese days, I was lucky to hang out with the national treasure who happened to be in her shop that Saturday afternoon when I collected the anniversary cake (above image). Talk about a purposeful, well-lived and well-loved Life.
We sang the Birthday song to ourselves and I had the honour of blowing out the candles – 6 big and 5 small ones (above image). We also sang the majestic School Song and School Hymn.
Me serving the anniversary cake to my hungry horde. I wanted to see an orderly queue first before I started serving the delicious cake (above image). Haha. As I handed them their cake, I imparted my well-wishes to them.
Here’s me serving cake to my appreciative Disciplinary Master, Victor Wee (above image). He previously sentenced me to five Detention Classes as a school kid but now, all is forgiven. Forgotten, not so much. Kidding! The other invited teacher is Mrs. Koh Siew Luan who taught us Biology.
The dinner attendees kindly signed on my new and unworn official school polo shirt.
So here I am, folks, having my “65”cake and eating it too (above image).
I’ve had a great, happy unique Journey. Achieved what I always wanted to do in my heART, attained financial freedom, have a fantastic, fun, loving and supportive family. My loving wife tolerates my creative idiosyncrasies, clears the Runway so I can soar into the lofty heavens with my Art. My adult, healthy, sensible, God-fearing son and daughter (in the management consulting and pharmaceutical industries respectively) do me proud every single day!
I’ve made interesting and talented friends along the way. I sorted out the Givers from the Takers earlier on. I only have Quality friends, not quantity.
The icing on the retyrement cake is to be able to wake up when I want to.
Following a life of non-substance abuse (no drugs, cigarettes, excessive alcohol etc), my body is still in relatively good shape.
A paunch is a shape.
In the complex and fast paced horn-blowing world of LinkedIn, Google, Yahoo and social media platforms – I summarised my Life Journey (Resume) succinctly into 5 words. Or in popular music speak, Three Part Harmony, on my favourite bracelet. The word Daddy also means Hubby (above image). Coincidentally, the day after the Cohort Dinner was Father’s Day.
It’s always best to Keep Life Simple.
As my matey Dame Olivia Newton-John wisely wrote in her email to me, “I think we are so lucky to have lived in such a wonderful era of music” (above image).
I was a wide-eyed and wide-eared teenager soaking up the sights and sounds of the Kings and Queens of the Airways from the “Wonderful Era of Music” (late 1960s/mid 70s) – dominated by the disbanding Beatles/solo Beatle members, Rolling Stones, Eagles, Crosby Still Nash & Young, Beach Boys. Bob Dylan, Jackson Browne, Joni Mitchell, Supertramp, Pink Floyd, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Queen, Elton John, America, Neil Diamond, Neil Young, Bee Gees, Chicago, The Band, Allman Brothers … and yes, the Dame herself, Olivia Newton-John!
A Rock Photographer’s work is NEVER done! (above image).
I hope to leave this world with my stiff right hand clutching a camera.
P.S. If you can read this Blog, Thank Your Teachers!