Once upon a time there was an elderly lady who had a bone china tea set. She had a teapot, a milk jug, a container for sugar, twelve cups and saucers and side plates for biscuits and cakes. The individually hand-made items where white in colour with beautiful red roses hand-painted as decorations and gold plating on the rims of the cups and plates. Although the set was quite old it was in pristine condition as if it had just left the factory; now long closed and out of business.
She loved that tea set and displayed it proudly in a glass-fronted cupboard in her living room.
She never used it because it was reserved for very special occasions. You know, just in case the Pope or the Queen might visit. Which of course they never did; nor were they likely to ever do. The old lady was very concerned in case an item would break or be chipped in use and the set would be incomplete and the damaged item irreplaceable
The tea set remained in the glass-fronted cupboard, admired by everyone who visited the old lady, and proudly loved by her whenever she looked at it.
One day the old lady died and her distant relatives, who never visited her when alive, sold all her belongings and used the money towards a holiday abroad.
When the old lady met St Peter at the Gates of Heaven, for that is where she was destined, the old Saint, who was used to drinking from an old clay cup when on earth, remarked casually “You never did get to use that lovely tea set, did you?”
“No!” she replied forlornly, “I saved it for a special occasion which never arrived!”
“Hmmm …” thought the Saint stroking his beard, “You also never got round to planting aubergines and courgettes in your garden. You always wanted to do that. But never did!”
“That’s right …” remembered the old lady, “Somehow I never got round to it. You know how it is … I was busy cleaning the house and things …”
St Peter chuckled quietly and added “Buon giorno!”
The old lady looked up at the tall man in total confusion.
He laughed and said, “Remember that winter when you promised yourself to learn Italian? You even bought a book and a dictionary, but never got to enrol at the local college for evening classes.”
“Yes … that’s right …” she replied shyly, “I wish I’d done that. Somehow the time was never right to start those classes. I would have enjoyed them too!”
An ominous silence followed and she wondered frightfully whether her omissions had somehow prejudiced her chances of entering Paradise.
“Do come in, my dear!” said the kindly Saint, “you know …” he added as he scratched his head, “it grieves me when I look down on earth and see so many people procrastinating and postponing doing something they set their hearts on.
“I watch and think … if not now, when?
“Somehow, people always have a reason for not doing something. When the Big Boss created the world for us He meant us to enjoy His creations, not postpone them and endure life!”
As she was led to her room in Paradise she discovered by her bedside the porcelain tea-set she once owned, two packets of aubergine and courgette seeds and an Italian dictionary.
The kindly Saint had given her a second chance to fulfil her dreams.