At 69 years old, Rowena is an extremely busy person. Now retired, the grandmother of five is carving out time for herself by participating in a number of activities including Latin dancing, pencil drawing and sketching, singing in a choir, playing the ukulele, cooking and baking. If time permits, she will visit the gym and do exercises once or twice a week. Rowena has her days planned out so that she lives life to the fullest everyday. She shares, “I cannot live day by day. I don’t know what is in it for me day by day.”
She is also utilising the skills she has learned to give back to society. On Mondays, Rowena volunteers by using her cooking skills and plays games with the seniors at Tung Ling Day Activities Centre. This month, through RSVP Singapore – The Organisation of Senior Volunteers, she is teaching Down’s syndrome children on baking – what she calls “teaching them to have some fun”.
Rowena explains that she is an “accidental chef”. She pursued a F & B business involving fusion, heritage food, cakes and pastries for 10 years before returning to the corporate world. After working for 7 years in an import & export radio communication business, and 3 years at Singhealth, she went back to F & B for another 3 years before retiring and pursuing her hobbies. She is a committee member at the Gourmet Activities Circle (GAC), where members cook up a storm in the name of bonding and sharing. GAC is a voluntary interest activity under RSVP, where members are taught ways to “maintain their health without short-changing their taste buds”. This also provides her with a platform to fuse Eastern and Western cuisines, where variety of food is enhanced with the creative mixing of ingredients. Through GAC, she also takes special interest in learning about heritage through food, such as Peranakan, Cantonese and Hakka cultures.
One of Rowena’s aims is to leave behind a legacy in cooking and baking, particularly to her 17-year-old granddaughter who has similar interests. Both her daughters are good in cooking and baking but they are too busy with work and family life. She believes wholeheartedly in intergenerational bonding, and through her regular interactions with her five grandchildren and two children, it has taught her much about communication with each other. She offered up some parenting advice: “Give the children advice only when asked but don’t give too much. If not, they will feel the pressure. Don’t create any barriers. If you expect them to be frank, you have to be the first to open up the communication and treat them like your friends.”
Right now Rowena is trying to find time for other activities on her waiting list, such as swimming and cycling. She has just completed a 4-day training at the Changi Airport, sent by RSVP. She will assume the voluntary role of Ambassador at Changi Airport starting 19 June, once a week. To her, life is about fulfilling the desire to learn and have fun. She said: “I just want to sort out my life and make sure I have done everything I want.”