Sarah Sperandei just turned 104. Living in Bayville for years, she moved to Oyster Bay Manor when Superstorm Sandy hit. Without electricity it was too cold for her to remain in her home, which saddened her, but only at first. Then Sperandei saw the piano in the common room. She knew there really was no reason to ever leave now.
The centenarian, who was called Sally by her family and Sarina by her husband, entertains everyone at the Manor, including herself, which she does well. She is pleased when her playing makes others happy and if they sing along, well that’s a bonus.
Although the long fingers on Sperandei’s hands are weathered, they remain lithe on the piano’s keys. And she never complains of stiffness or arthritis. Playing the piano for Sperandei is life personified, a gateway to pure joy. She has no plans to ever quit.
Five foot two, eyes of blue,
But oh what those five foot could do,
Has anybody seen my gal? – 1925
“I always can do things from my head,” said Sperandei, demonstrating by quickly playing parts of several different songs without the assistance of sheet music. “I have a whole list of songs I can do from throughout the years.”
At the Manor, Sperandei often sings along as she plays, lost in the music, but sometimes she looks up at the other residents who have gathered to enjoy her performance. Continuing to play she encourages them to join in.
She’s used to performing, having had accompanied her high school glee club and the orchestra back in 1928. Time isn’t really relevant to Sperandei. She entertains the Manor residents like she’s always done. Her yearbook did say that her motto was: “Always lead. Never follow.”
Satisfying a request for “Irish Eyes” doesn’t go well. She tries again. Then, while still trying to find the chords Sperandei looks up and says, “You don’t want to hear this terrible playing — it’s not right. Let me give you this one instead.”
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