Friday, November 11, 2011

My Retirement

It has been almost 3 months since my official retirement and I still haven't updated my blog. So who says retirees have too much time and don't know what to do with their free time! Actually I do have much more free time now since my retirement, even though I'm not fully retired from working life. The thing is that I have used the free time for other "likes" and have neglected the blog as usual. With the academic year ending soon, I'll move from semi-retired status to maybe three quarter retired status if you wish to make a comparison. Hopefully, I'll make it a point to find something to blog about. So first, I'll recollect the month of my retirement. The month had been so memorable, I really should organize my thoughts and photos in this post to share with others as well as to read again some time later.
The first event held to celebrate my retirement was organized by the school St John Ambulance Divisions on 6 August even though my retirement starts on the 20th. I already knew that the students, ex-students and teachers were planning something grand but when the event unfolded it still touched me so much because it was really very grand indeed. This is the group photo taken in the hall where the ceremony was held.

First they took me to the school in a Toyota Camry decorated like a bridal car.
For the first time in my life I was treated like a VIP. There was an inspection of the guard of honour and all the invited guests including the school principal, senior assistants, teachers and even our Division Surgeon Dr Wong Kar Lin were there to receive me. But the thing that delighted me most is seeing my ex-members coming specially to attend. Some of them have actually left the school quite a few years already.

The students took great pains to decorate the school. As you can see from the photos, the yellow and golden hue made the hall look like a grand ballroom.

I didn't prepare my speech, I just spoke from my heart. But it was hard to speak from the heart because you would have to fight back the tears. Anyway I only spoke briefly, remembering to thank the people I want to thank and acknowledging the ones who still kept me in their hearts.

These are my four pillars of the Division. We went through so much together, we are like family.
Here are the people who have me in their hearts, who came specially to celebrate with me. I'm still touched by their attendance.

At the end of the function, I was given a grand send-off. It caused quite a traffic jam in front of the school with people slowing down to see what was happening.

Later in the evening it was party time when members and ex-members joined me at a buffet dinner at Coffee Island, Gurney Drive. From the photos you can see how everyone enjoyed themselves. It was so nice to ex-members from as far back as 1995 who remembered me and came to attend.

Besides the 2 events held by the St John members, there were other small gatherings held to celebrate my retirement. A session at Redbox with the karaoke gang, a dinner at Hard Rock Cafe with some colleagues, a karaoke dinner at Ocean Green organised by the Principal himself (what an honour). Then came the official retirement ceremony in school.

Since I only teach the upper six classes this year I only expected gifts from them but I was taken aback when so many students brought gifts.

No matter what gifts they brought its not the value that counts but the thought and gestures that make a difference. I really appeciate all the gifts , big or small. The most meaningful gift is the photo album with personal messages from the students, not forgetting this large expression of gratitude from the Lower Six students.

I thank the Principal for heaping so many praises for me. Even though he praises every teacher who retires, his speech was very long and painted such a glorious picture of me. When it was my turn to speak, I had to cut short what I planned to say. But I managed to sing all the songs I planned to sing. Of course the students were delighted. You don't always get to hear teachers singing in public. Many teachers can sing very well but getting enough guts to sing in front of more than a thousand people is another matter. It doesn't matter if you sing well or not, they will love it anyway. But after the event, some teachers told me they were very touched by the songs and almost cried and saw some girls wiping their tears. I guess if you sing from your heart, the music will bring your feelings to those who listen. Due to popular request, (maybe some teachers thought I could only sing this song, or maybe they liked my rendition, I don't know) I sang Moon Represents My Heart but I altered the first part of the lyrics to English to make it different from the usual version and also more appropriate.
you asked how much I love you dear
I love you oh so much
Yes my love is real and my feeling's true
the Moon says it all for me
the Sun that brings the morning light
the Stars that shine on you
it's a lovely world, you and I must know
the Moon says it all to you
You caught me by surprise, when you walked in to my life
It's sad for me to leave, but my heart is filled with a bliss
You asked how much I love you all
I love you all so much
All my love is real and my feeling's, too
the Moon says it all for me............

Next I sang George Benson's Greatest Love of All. The lyrics of the song is very meaningful to teachers. The students don't seem to have heard the song but I hope they understand the lyrics.
But when I sang David Tao's Ai Hen Jian Dan,

it really brought the house down. I took the music from the "live" version and it helped to set the "concert" mood getting all the students and some teachers to join me in the chorus. It was really something that the school had never witnessed before. A very nice ending to my retirement ceremony.

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