The Colours of Life

Skurnik, Lilly


Living blind


LILLY SKURNIK GREW UP in the 1930s, the cherished daughter of Polish Jewish immigrants in Newtown, Sydney. Times were hard but the family lived and worked together, with great hopes for the future. In 1943 Lilly experienced two terrible tragedies: the death from cancer of her beloved father and the discovery of a tumour on her brain. Although the operation to remove it was successful, Lilly was blind.

After a long and painful recovery, Lilly spent years in denial and often pretended she could see, even going so far as to ‘read’ a magazine in the hairdresser’s, “hoping it was right Way up”.

Slowly she began to build her independence, became gainfully employed, then chose to live in her own home, sharing it for many years with her beloved guide dog, Lucy. Lilly loved going out with friends, cooking, gardening and knitting. She travelled overseas, learned to use a computer and even climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge,

Her Voice is clear, elegant and uncontrived. Lilly’s joie de Vivre shines through this compelling account of a full and happy life. She is an inspiration not only for those with vision impairment, but for the sighted who unthinkingly brush aside those with disabilities. Lilly would not be brushed aside, even taking up dancing the tango. In search of the perfect tango skirt, she takes us shopping with her and revels in the colourful clothes her friend describes to her. “I love red”, she says.