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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

An exciting business

“We all like stories that make us cry.  It’s so nice to feel sad when you’ve nothing in particular to feel sad about.” – Anne Sullivan

Emotion is a powerful force in writing, and life, as Anne Sullivan so clearly understood. She was a gifted teacher and communicator best known for her work with Helen Keller, a deaf, blind, and (early in their work together) mute child she taught to communicate.   Despite the physical strain on her own limited sight, Sullivan – at age 21 – helped Keller learn to understand words and their meaning, how to speak them, and the greater context of what they stood for in the world around her.  Then she spent the rest of her life making sure that Keller would always enjoy that world and write about it too.

 Devoted to Helen Keller’s success, Anne accompanied her everywhere, including classrooms as she followed a pathway through multiple educational institutions.  At eac, Sullivahn would spell the contents of class lectures into Keller's hand, and then spend many more hours conveying information from textbooks to her. As a result, Keller became the first deaf-blind person in history to graduate from college.

The story of Keller and Sullivan’s work with her became the best-selling book, Broadway play, and award-winning movie called The Miracle Worker.   

Anne Sullivan and Helen Keller

Helen Keller not only was inspirational for those who were deaf or blind (or both), but for all of us through her example of perserverance and the willingness to “try life” despite being dealt what many would call a losing hand.  And she always gave credit to Sullivan.

“Life is an exciting business,” Keller said, referring directly to her mentor and lifelong friend.  “And most exciting is when it is lived for others.”

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