Gray. Wet. Cold. Sounds muted by the constant drizzle outside the window. The kids and I finished up our lessons, ate a bite, snuggled up and settled down in the family room for an afternoon of reading. I chose Helen Keller. Completely captivated by her story, they refused my stopping until we turned the last page.
As a result, I am prompted to give thanks for many things. The use of all five of my senses, first of all. Try as we might, we found ourselves unable to empathize with Helen Keller. We closed our eyes, but we could still perceive light. We put our fingers in our ears, but we could still hear our hearts beating. We put our hands over lips to discern words, but it was so obvious to each what the other said. Besides, our fingers don’t know how to read lips. The world we live in is neither dark nor silent, and we cannot even pretend it well.
I am thankful for books and libraries. Helen’s passion to learn is inspiring. Once she understood Miss Sullivan’s method of teaching, once she had her first taste of acquiring knowledge, Helen didn’t want to stop learning. The only problem was that there were so few resources in braille or raised letters. We are not limited in that way, however.
After I closed the book, my children wanted to know more. We exhausted what I had on-hand: the biography, our history books, and the World Book Encyclopedia; so, I turned to the computer. With a few clicks I had more information about Helen Keller than I could shake a stick at. I even found footage from the 1930’s of Keller and Sullivan demonstrating how Helen learned to speak. I am thankful for the internet — it is a wonder.
I am also thankful today for teachers who give so much of themselves for their students. Helen Keller lived an amazingly active and productive life. As an adult, she did so much good for people with disabilities. She would not have been able to do so, however, without Annie Sullivan. No obstacle was too great that Miss Sullivan would not find a way for Helen to surmount it. She gave her life to see Helen succeed. Some teachers, like Miss Sullivan, become surrogate parents because the actual parents simply are not fully equipped or trained to deal with a disabled child’s constant needs. Those kinds of men and women are rare and very special. The tireless efforts of Annie Sullivan in the life of one Helen Keller have made the world a better place for deaf and blind people around the world over the past 70+ years.
I am thankful for cold and rainy days that lend themselves to warm blankies on the couch and reading aloud.