Sharyn Elliffe enjoys her family and friends, and her piano - still. She has enjoyed her second Life Writing class with Deborah so much that she has set up her writing desk in a quiet spot. Here's hoping she uses it.
“You’re obsessed, Mum, get yourself a life, and stay out of mine,” shrieks my fifteen-year-old woman-child. A life of my own, I wish …
‘Sharyn Elliffe, ATCL,’ wrote my piano teacher in my new notebook. These four letters have taunted me since my teenage years. I was told firmly I didn’t have the brains for university; a music degree was a worthless dream. Eventually, marriage and three children made me a mother, and that was it.
Graduation was almost dream-like and I was grateful the people I loved the most sat through it. I was one of the oldest graduates; the boy sitting next to me had pimples. Medication, hypnotherapy and prayer had got me through. My biggest hurdles were conquered; self-confidence and performance anxiety.
My husband was the most proud. He is currently working towards a doctorate in taxation. My music diploma was for me like putting a toe into the sea of the world where he swims with broad, confident strokes. He organized impromptu celebrations – friends called, bubbly opened, flowers came, and from him, a delicate diamond ladder on a chain. I am still touched by his love and enthusiasm for my personal growth.
There has been so much satisfaction in my journey; my piano teacher set seemingly impossible standards. Her friendship, expectations, and quiet steady confidence in me have been such an encouragement, and she shared my joy at the result. My newfound confidence is in my fingers now. I can trust them to do what my ears demand.
Judgment has been passed. I have arrived.
Aunty Nance by Sharyn Elliffe
Sharyn Elliffe has a wonderful patient husband, three almost grown up children, loves her piano, and is just discovering writing. One day she hopes to do something useful with it.
My beloved Aunty Nance passed away on June 14, 1981. By an amazing coincidence, my first child was born exactly eight years later, June 14, 1989 and I could see the room she died in from the maternity ward window.
Throughout my childhood, I spent as many holidays at Aunty Nance’s spotless house as I could, my first visit at age six. Each Saturday, despite it’s immaculate condition, the Zephyr Zodiac was lovingly polished. The seats and doors still wore their plastic covers from the sales showroom. A guest bedroom contained gleaming mahogany and meticulously made beds – not to be sat on after making. I was glad to leave my own chaotic bedroom and bask in the peace of this perfect room.
Aunty Nance wore sedate dresses, stockings, and demure slippers indoors. I was fascinated by the way she twisted her long black hair around a knitting needle in front of her bathroom mirror each morning. Her “do” remained pristine until bedtime.
We held Uncle George, a gruff bulldog of a man, in a kind of sacred terror. He’d bark at us children “Don’t touch the wallpaper!” Yet he could be kind and funny, even gentle sometimes. I loved him, but was grateful for Auntie’s intervention, “Oh George, you silly old man, do be quiet!” when he teased me until I cried.
Once Uncle went to work, Aunty and I enjoyed each other. Time passed quickly, with outings, sweets, baking, books, board games, cuddles with her morbidly obese temperamental cat, Christie. I spent hours copying out my favourite Famous Five books on her ancient typewriter at the ironing table.
They called me “Shanny” a name no one else would dare to use. Aunty laughed a lot at my earnest childishness. I had asked, “Has Christie got a radio in him?” when I first heard him purr and Aunty repeated my question as though it was clever to anyone who would listen. She loved my siblings, but I knew I was her favorite.
When Aunty Nance died, a door slammed on my childhood.
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