Friday, March 14, 2008

Friday 55 & Da Count

FRIDAY 55

She stumbles around in silent darkness unable to understand or be understood, her heart and soul imprisoned. She lashes out at any who approach her cage. Her hopeless, helpless parents indulge any urge and bow to wild furies until...
The teacher tames the raging child, restores her freedom by giving her a language to speak.


The most important day I remember in all my life is the one on which my teacher, Anne Mansfield Sullivan, came to me...three months before I was seven years old.
~Helen Keller~

Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.

~Helen Keller~



DA COUNT

The above picture is a recently discovered and previously unknown photograph of the young Helen Keller with her teacher Annie Sullivan.

Helen Keller and Annie Sullivan have been heroes of mine since I was seven years old and I got my first chapter book about them. Helen was left deaf and blind after an illness when she was 19 months old. Her parents were devastated and had no idea what to do for her other than cater to her every whim. Eventually they hired Annie Sullivan to work with her. Annie was very nearly fired because of her insistence that Helen learn to gain self control. She was given one last chance with Helen and during that time Helen finally made the connection between the words Annie fingerspelled into her palm and the objects being named. Helen's world suddenly opened up and the rages were calmed because she now had a way to express herself in a way that could be understood. Helen not only learned to use sign language but learned to speak with her voice through countless hours of placing her fingers on Annie's throat, lips, and nose so she could learn how speech felt and replicate it.

Annie lost much of her sight to trachoma at age five. Her abusive, alcoholic father left her in an orphanage when she was seven. She begged a State official to let her go to school when he visited the orphanage. She regained some sight after a series of surgeries and graduated as valedictorian from the Perkins School for the Blind.

Helen and Annie were at each other's side from 1887 until the teacher's death in the 1930s. They accomplished more than anyone ever dared dream for either of them. This story to me is one of the pinnacles of what can be accomplished by a dedicated teacher. It's what perseverance between student and teacher can achieve. It innovates and produces hope.

Although it's only a photograph I was excited to learn of the discovery and I paused to again consider these two women who amazed the world. I'm counting them this week and the inspiration they've given me since I was seven.


31 comments:

S said...

I remember reading about Helen Keller when I was a little kid. I thought she was just amazing!

Have a great weekend, Lime!

furiousBall said...

I can't wait to read stories about her to my kids.

James Goodman-Horror Writer said...

What a fantastic 55, Lime. I think you captured the essence of the moment brilliantly.

Casdok said...

Ive also found inspiration in Helen Keller.
Great 55.

Seamus said...

We had the wonderful pleasure of visiting Ivy Green, Helen Keller's birthplace in Tuscumbia, Al year before last! It is a wonderful day trip if you are even in NW Alabama!

lecram said...

Wonderful tie in with both the 55 and count. It's special enough to overcome... but to reach further and soar is divine. Cheers!

barman said...

That was wonderful. I have heard about Helen and Annie growing up, read their story and saw at least one movie but never went further than that. They are truely inspirational. What a great 55 and even better count.

P M Prescott said...

I've seen The Miracle Worker numerous times and am always touched. Excellent post. I enjoyed it very much.

Akelamalu said...

I guessed your 55 was about Helen Keller, you told the story perfectly! I too have see the Miracle worker numerous times but I never tire of it.

Mine's up too.

snowelf said...

I never knew that Annie was nearly blind. I had a book about Helen Keller when I was a kid too, and I also thought the whole story was amazing!!

--snow

Suldog said...

Sullivans have always been my heroes, too :-)

Seriously, Annie Sullivan & Helen Keller are an amazing story. I've always been inspired by it.

Mona said...

That is a brilliant 55ve Lime!

Helen Keller is one of my favorite heroine & so was her teacher.

We had a movie made on their life in India entitled "Black". It was an award winning movie!

Breazy said...

Awesome 55 Lime! You and I have something in common here. The book about Helen Keller was the first chapter book I ever read as well, a couple years later I had to read it again and do a big book report on it. I could read the book a thousand times and still not be tired of it.

Have a great weekend!

coopernicus said...

I know it's been remade a hundred times, but the version with Anne Bancroft as Annie is a great film. I remember watching it as a kid and being moved by it. I have such respect for people that won't give up in the face of astronomical odds and little support...

RennyBA said...

Never heard of them, but do agree with you: 'innovates and produces hope'! So this made a good start to the weekend for me - wish you a good one too :-)

citizen of the world said...

I didn't know all that about Annie Sullivan - makes her even more impressive! Helen Keeper is amazing of course, but I've often thought about how much patiennce must have been required by her teacher.

San said...

Lime, I too was very inspired by Helen Keller when I was growing up. Love how you captured the miracle moment in your 55.

Thanks too for the background on Anne Sullivan. I didn't know that. How rare when someone overcomes their own hardships and abuses so that they can help others.

SeaRabbit said...

Really touching and interesting! I gave you a High five on my blog... just because I like you a lot!

SignGurl said...

Bravo!!! Your 55 needs to be published. You summed up so well what I'm sure life was like for Helen. Again, bravo!

G-Man said...

Michelle, what an exquisite 55!!!
I just saw that lost photo always, and it brought back memories of that great Patty Duke..Anne Bancroft movie, "Miracle Worker"
Thanks for this masterpiece...Galen
xoxox

jillie said...

Can you believe I actually had a patient that knew Helen Keller? I was talking to one of the other nurses about it, she being MUCH younger had no clue as to who Helen Keller was.

I was STUNNED!!!!!

Jeni said...

Excellent post about two excellent and quite extraordinary women!

Pauline said...

They were truly inspirational. Great 55!

The Zombieslayer said...

That's such a beautiful photograph. It has such emotion to it. I can't really explain.

I remember a girl in grade school who was really into Helen Keller. I remember telling a lot of Helen Keller jokes to my friends, but then whenever this girl would speak of Helen Keller, I always listened.

In the back of my mind, Keller's (and of course Sullivan's) struggle was very inspiration to me, because of that girl. She was so passionate about it and I learned a lot from listening to her.

To this day, I believe that anything can be overcome if you're willing to do the work. That's why I'm not too sympathetic to a lot of people because if Keller could overcome her obstacles...

Follow your dreams, and never stop learning. That's one of my central beliefs. One of these days, I should read the books that that girl talked about.

Diesel said...

Amazing story.

Theresa said...

I remember reading about Helen Keller when I was about the same age, and I was impressed by her story. Those sure were two amazing women, and that is a lovely picture. Thanks for sharing that with us, otherwise I wouldn't have heard about it. :)

Brian said...

That is a wonderful photo and your description of the relationship between Helen and Annie is so inspiring.

Charles said...

Funny coincidence, I just referenced Helen Keller in a conversation yesterday and didn't get to read this until today.

Jamie Dawn said...

What a wonderful post. The story of these two women is incredible. I can't imagine what the world was like for that poor, little girl. Then came her teacher who persisted until she had a breakthrough. What a joy that must have been for both of them when things started to finally click for Helen. I did not know that tidbit about Annie's sight.
Thanks for sharing this inspirational post!

DianeCA said...

The story of Helen Keller is truly amazing, thanks for sharing with us. I can't imagine what it would be like to be totally without a language, without sight or sound, how would she even know that language existed...and yet she learned. Truly inspiring!

Jocelyn said...

Oh, to see that picture. They are my heroes, too (no surprise that I'd share that with you, psychic sister!). My sister was in THE MIRACLE WORKER when we were young, and I didn't miss a performance.