The most beautiful discovery true friends make is that they can grow separately without growing apart. — Elisabeth Foley, American legal theorist

I was among nine former students of Sibu’s St Elizabeth’s Convent School who was in Sydney last Thursday for a brief reunion.

Why Sydney, you may ask. Five of us from Sibu and Kuching were on the last leg of a short group tour of Melbourne and Sydney while two are now living in Sydney, one in Melbourne and one had just flown in from the USA.

The tour of Melbourne and Sydney by St E class of 1975 was planned months in advance while the reunion was also planned in advance.

I have not met some of these former classmates and schoolmates for years and had fun catching up with them.

Having spent between five and seven years of my school years and life with each of them, I was naturally close to all of them.

Although the years have passed and much water has flowed under the bridge, time stood still during our brief reunion in Sydney.

We laughed and giggled like little schoolgirls at each other’s stories and jokes.

Five of us who joined the group tour of Melbourne and Sydney first met our four former classmates at a Thai restaurant. Our tour group had dinner there while our friends also dined there. All nine of us later adjourned to a dessert bar. We took two cabs there.

Time indeed flew while we chatted and enjoyed our Cappuccino, Latte and other exotic drinks and nibbled at the colourful pieces of sweet and delicious cakes at the bar.

At first, the topics of our conversations were light. They became serious after our Melbourne friend told us that her mother, a dementia patient, was now staying at a nursing home in Kuching.

She said she had to fly back to Kuching regularly to check on her mother who was unable to recognise her or the rest of her family.

After that, my other friends, who had also looked after their mothers who suffered from dementia, shared their stories too. I too shared my story about my mother who is also a dementia patient.

My friends laughed and laughed when I told them about the bundles of clothes and knick-knacks that my hyperactive mother left regularly in the living room.

“These I had to unpack after a hard day’s work in the office,” I said.

One of my friends patted me on the back and said, “I sympathise with you.”

Another said, “My late mother just sat there and waited for me to feed her. You have a naughty mother.”

All the others could not help laughing as they listened to the funny stories and exchanges.

“Who is looking after your mother while you are here?” asked a concerned friend.

“My elder sister from Bintulu,” I replied.

I am glad I joined the tour of Melbourne and Sydney with some of my former classmates and schoolmates. We had so much fun and laughed so much!

These friends know me from the time I was 13 until now. They understand me and accepted me for what I am.

I had my secondary education at St Elizabeth’s Convent School, an all-girls school, which has renamed to SMK St Elizabeth. My education there has contributed to what I am today and some of the friendships I have forged there have remained until today.

Some of my best friends are my former classmates and schoolmates.

It is now springtime in Australia and the flowers are lovely in both cities. Like me, my friends took every opportunity to pose with the flowers. If you visit our Facebook pages, you may see some of the colourful flowers there.

The weather there is cold right now. But we had been forewarned and I was fully equipped with a long jacket, a scarf, blazers, socks and trousers.

We travelled on Jetstar between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore and Qantas between Kuala Lumpur and Melbourne as well as between Sydney and Kuala Lumpur.

I enjoyed these flights which were different from the usual AirAsia or MAS flights that I took.

Once in a while, my friends and I find it good to take a well-deserved holiday even for a few days and catch up with former classmates and schoolmates who had been through good and bad times with you and accepted you for what you are.

Until next week, I wish you all the best.