For Maureen Elgar this has been an opportunity to take a journey back in time. But of much more value is the friendship which developed between herself and Jacqueline Fernandez, a woman almost 40 years her junior.
We catch up with Jacqueline and Maureen fondly referred to as Nan in Jacqui’s Bedfordview home where they share the incredible story which proves that age does not matter.
Not when you live life to the fullest, not when you relive a life filled with memories and especially not when bonds of friendship are being formed.
Jacqui and Maureen’s paths crossed at a karate club in Boksburg where Maureen is a regular in support of her grandchildren and where Jacqui and her family are active.
Maureen is a resident of Queenshaven Retirement Village.
‘We started chatting and I soon realised that Maureen is a special person. I also realised that you are never too old to dance even when you are in your 80s.
‘And Nan is proving this theory by living it. I simply fell in love with Maureen’s poise and her elegant soul.’
While sharing stories, Jacqui had what one could call a light bulb moment and with her being a producer at JMM Productions, she thought that a journey back into Maureen’s past with her reliving her life would make for a perfect television production.
And so the idea of the production of Happily Ever Laughter was born.
Back in time
Nan entered the spotlight at the age of 15 when she started producing her concerts. Following in the footsteps of her father, Jack Keene, she founded the Junior Noisettes to both amuse sick children in hospital and raise funds for the underprivileged. Back in the years the group also entertained many young souls in retirement homes.
With the production of Happily Ever Laughter Maureen returns to the spotlight where the series follows her going back to the magical scenes of her life.
And for Maureen this was an opportunity of a lifetime because as she says, ‘Time is precious to all of us and there is no reason we, even at the age of 83, need to stop dreaming and living.’
Beauty of friendship
During filming the two women formed a special relationship in the time they spent together going back in time.
They created magical moments and for Jacqui it was beautiful to see Maureen almost living her life over again being back on stage, attending a ballet class at the studio where she used to dance and experiencing a glamorous photoshoot making Maureen a cover girl.
And let’s not forget the appearance of one of Maureen’s all-time favourite stars, Craig Urbani, performing one of her special songs, The way you look tonight, and of course, taking her for an elegant twirl around the stage.
‘We have celebrated wine, laughter, friends and very fragile and beautiful moments,’ said Jacqui. ‘We reflected on moments of joy, heartbreak and raw emotions which Nan endured as a woman and mother.’
Maureen lives by the endearing words of Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen, ‘Dance until all the dance has been danced out of you’.
‘I still find pride and joy in getting up in the morning and getting dressed and putting on make-up. I was born in 1938 and I have survived many things in my life – even Covid-19.’
For Maureen, this has been an emotional journey.
Her dad’s background in theatre and following in his footsteps led to her meeting her husband who died after their 50th anniversary.
‘He was a drummer and we had an extremely happy life filled with laughter and of course music. We had four children and, unfortunately, we lost one of our sons at the age of 31. I am a proud grandmother and lived a blessed life with wonderful friends.
‘It has been nothing but a divine journey.’
She also fondly remembers that she always found herself sewing. Not only for her children but also costumes for theatre productions.
She officially retired at the age of 80 after she left her former employer at the age of 63 but carried on working for the church.
‘If there is one thing I can hope for is that other people of my generation will be inspired by this story. They have to get up and live and not just sit around.
‘Oh, and of course, I am very proud of getting the better of new technology like Tik Tok, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter,’ she said with a huge smile.
You can follow Maureen and Jacqui’s journey and watch a beautiful friendship blossom by following them on Instagram and Facebook under Just Making Magic – JMM Productions.
* Text: CARINA VAN DER WALT. Photo: ESTILO. Clothes: JUST FOR TONIGHT JOSEPHINE. Venues: MUNRO BOUTIQUE HOTEL and THE PHOTO FACTORY VENUE.