The Afternoon Tea of Life

25 Oct 2020 by Cho-wai in: Looking Out

“It’s a shock to suddenly be told that you are a senior Australian, I prefer to think I’ve reached the afternoon tea of life”, wrote Jackie French, the acclaimed Australian writer who was named the 2015 Senior Australian of the Year.
I remember the days when I lived in Seattle where, in summer, I would still be able to write letters in the twilight on the streets while waiting for a bus to go home at 9:45pm. The soft glowing light from the sky betrayed the fact that the end of the day was near. Indeed, many people were still enjoying the vibrancy of the university town at that hour. In winter, that same place looked quite lifeless by 6p.m.
This experience of writing letters in the twilight late in the night inspired me not to despair when faced with the looming darkness of my ‘senior’ years. Don’t idle around, I said to myself, make the best use of the time on hand, just hope that this final stage of life is like the summer nights in Seattle. If that is so, I probably could still have a swim after the afternoon tea (to use Jackie French’s analogy), have dinner, attend an evening lecture and have some light snacks and a warm cup of milk before retiring for the night.

As I navigated into the first year of retirement, I’ve found maintaining my body healthy has been an up-stream swim. I used to be someone who saw a GP once or twice a year for the routine check-up, but in the past 12 months, I have had a major operation, shingles, two rounds of rashes (the last time I had this kind of extensive rashes was some 34 years ago), x-rays, ultrasound scans, needle biopsies, MRIs, plus other swabs and tests.

I told myself: be surprised, pleasantly or otherwise. Should I press the ‘pause’ button? Well, slowing down a little should help me to adjust and recuperate. In the long run, with God’s grace, I prefer to keep on learning, embrace change and step out of my comfort zone as much as possible.

Our senior years are often likened to a sunset. But a setting sun reflects the beauty of God’s creation and illuminates the sky as beautifully as the rising sun. Whatever age I will live to, may my last stage of life reflect God’s love and greatness in a way He prefers.