As I experience the aging process and enter my “Golden Years”, I feel immense courage and strength. I ask myself, “How can I empower others to endure this daunting task”? So often, it helps me to reflect on my earlier life and to embrace the challenges I could overcome.
Looking back at my origins and my birthplace, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, life seemed simple enough. Attending an all-girls school gave me many benefits and taught me many skills. It was easy to stay out of trouble. However, life challenges started when I was a teenager and my dad died. Luckily my mom remained strong and in charge! With my three sisters and one brother we continued to thrive.
Kuala Lumpur lacked educational opportunities so my mom helped me prepare for University in Australia where I studied Commerce and began my career. Life however, was not dull and it picked up speed, because it was in University that I met the love of my life, Chung. Our courtship lasted five years and when Chung completed his medical degree, we married.
A big decision was lurking because Australia had a ‘Whites’ only immigration policy and we could not stay. It was time for another move, and this time it was to beautiful Vancouver! Our lives continued to be enriched as we raised our family and then became proud grandparents.
It was then that I began to ask myself some serious questions—thinking of my mom and her health issues. I began to look around and explore how I can utilize my strength, time and energy. My focus tuned in to seniors who faced isolation.
I then trained as a senior peer counsellor which prepared me to help others identify and find solutions to their needs. The tools gained through training helped me develop a new philosophy in helping others. I felt a sense of freedom when I realized that I don’t have to fix problems for other people but to empower them by listening without judgment and filters. My motto has always been to look for the jewel in other people.
My newly acquired role was not to make decisions but to empower people to make their own decisions. I learned that my role as a volunteer isn’t only about giving to my peers but what I receive from them. My heart has been touched so many times when I have seen immense courage on the face of a senior who has had her life ravaged by one health issue after another. I look upon my blessings, store them in my treasure box, and when I am feeling ‘down’, I access those treasures.
As I embrace my senior years, I continue to enjoy travelling, gardening, spending time with family and giving back to my community. My joy comes from helping young children with reading disabilities and on the other end of the spectrum giving seniors “in need”, a helping hand.
I would like to thank Jewish Seniors Alliance for this great opportunity to continue to serve others.
“There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.”
— Edith Wharton