Good morning blind wisdom seekers
And in advance for Friday – Happy Birthday Helen Keller!
Ron and I will be hosting the Oarsome morning show on Otago Access Radio this Friday at 9 am. We will be dedicating the show to Helen Keller so make sure you tune in to here some Helen music, listen to some Helen words and of course to hear the Helen story! You’ll find us at 105.4 fm, 1575 am or streamed live at www.oar.org.nz
Part of the motivation to establish this blog was to showcase the positive stories of blindness, and who better to do this then Helen herself.
Helen Keller was born on 27 June in 1880; with perfect sight and perfect hearing. Born in Tuscumbia, Alabama, in the United States of America, Helen, as an infant, contracted Scarlet fever, leaving her Deafblind.
Helen was an unruly child, exasperating her parents. They had limited options of what to do with Helen, as disability support services were unheard of in those days.
When Helen was approaching her 7th birthday, she got her best birthday present ever; her very own teacher. Miss Sullivan, partially blind herself, had come to the Keller house from the Perkins School for the Blind at the request of Dr Alexander Graham Bell. The two would go on to develop a relationship that would become one of the most significant relationships of the 20th century.
As Helen had no language, Miss Sullivan began to teach her. She began by finger spelling the letters of words into Helen’s hand, starting with the word doll, at the same time as Helen was holding a doll in the other hand. Helen began to cotton on that what Miss Sullivan was writing into her hand meant something but she didn’t know what.
It wasn’t until that most famous day when Miss Sullivan took Helen out to the garden tap and ran water over Helen’s hand, at the same time as writing w,a,t,e,r into Helen’s other hand that the light went on. Helen learned at that moment that the flow of gushing water was the word that Miss Sullivan was spelling into her other hand i.e. water. According to the story, Helen picked up dirt from the ground and demanded to know its word. By the end of that day Helen was reported to have learned 30 words. Helen went on to learn all the letters of the alphabet and then braille.
With the floodgates of learning now open, Helen and Teacher were inseparable.
At the age of 10 Helen expressed interest in learning to speak and was often heard saying “Some day I will go to college.” Helen stuck to her word, being the first Deafblind person in the world to graduate in 1904 with a Bachelor of Arts from Radcliffe College.
But Helen’s learning never stopped. Annie Sullivan was by her side until her death in 1936, finger spelling book after book into Helen’s hand.
Helen received many honorary doctoral degrees in her life time and travelled to 39 countries around the world, spreading her message of hope and inspiration. “You have heard how through a little word dropped from the fingers of another, a ray of light from another soul touched the darkness of my mind and I found myself, found the world. It is because my teacher learned about me and broke through the silent imprisonment which held me, that I am able to work for others.”
Helen died in 1968, at the age of 88. Helen Keller left behind a legacy of words and stories that are still relevant today.
“So much has been given to me I have not time to ponder over that which has been denied.”
Have a happy 27 June and feel free to circulate this material on Helen’s birthday this Friday! The more we celebrate our blind champions the greater the chance the rest of us blindies get to be champions!
And now for something a little bit more down to earth ,
my blindfulness diary for this week! Ha ha ha!
1 the feel of my glorious hot bed that I jumped into last night! The electric blanket was exquisite!
2 the feel of crispy sheets! Monday night is always crispy sheet night! (that’s clean sheets on the bed)
3 the taste of the scrumptious cheese roll I had yesterday for lunch at Coffee Culture, the new café here in the old Roslyn Fire Station! At another Dunedin café, Ironic, they call cheese rolls “Southland Sushi” – that’s a sling off at Southland’s lack of diversity !!
4 the sound of the lovely pharmacy lady describing all the medications the doctor had prescribed for all the different travel ailments! It kind of makes me want to get them so that I can use the medication! Funny!
5 the feel of my braille envelopes I have made!
6 the sound of the lovely Asian lady Gladys who was so helpful on the phone when I rang Kmart looking for winter pyjamas for Ron! She asked “how old is he?” and when I said he was “young at heart” she said “we have old colours and young ones” – how fascinating! She said her husband would die if she took him home the young coloured pyjamas! I said my husband would die if I took him home the old coloured ones! Ha ha ha!
7 the taste of watermelon I have just munched on! Reminds me of China where they serve it after every meal!
8 the smell of chicken legs cooking in the oven for tea last night!
9 the feel of Ron’s stomach as he pulled it in when I zipped up a jacket he tried on yesterday in Kmart! Funny!
10 the smell of winter!
I may not see but I can smell
And taste and touch and listen
And when I do this every day
I find my optimism!