I don’t like using the words handicapped or disabled when it comes to those who are either born with or develop physical limitations.
I prefer to use the word challenged.
I believe that people who are challenged are also specially gifted, because they are often compensated with a Herculean inner strength and willpower to override their challenges.
They are furthermore our greatest teachers, showing us that just because we might be physically challenged, doesn’t mean we can’t contribute greatly to the world through that challenge.
And one of the most amazing teachers and contributors I know was Helen Keller.
I remember first discovering about her when I was a young teen, while viewing the movie, The Miracle Worker.
Anne Bancroft as Annie Sullivan and Patty Duke as Helen Keller
“Helen Keller was born with the ability to see and hear. At 19 months old, she contracted an illness described by doctors as "an acute congestion of the stomach and the brain", which might have been scarlet fever or meningitis. The illness left her both deaf and blind.” – from Wikipedia
I sat and watched the film in total bewilderment, wondering what it would be like to not have my senses of sight and hearing, or the ability to speak. For me, I thought it would feel as though I was trapped inside my body; almost suffocating. Yet as the story progressed, I saw how Annie Sullivan slowly taught Helen how to communicate by using signs and letters on her hand through the sense of touch.
Later, Helen learned how to speak by imitating the vibrations and motions she felt in the throat, mouth, and nose of another teacher, Sarah Fuller, at the Horace Mann School for the Deaf.
And what astounded me about Helen Keller was that she went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree and became a world-famous speaker, political activist, and author. She wrote a total of 12 published books.
She led a very rich, full and happy life, in spite of her challenges. And from what I've read, she also had a great sense of humor; enjoying a good joke.
Here are some inspiring quotes from this remarkable lady…
Yes, Helen Keller may have been blind and deaf, but she had a keen inner vision and sense of hearing which she channeled through her heart; spending her entire life paving the way for others to have hope, and to learn. She embraced her challenge; making it a vocation.
Whenever I think I can't, I think of Helen. And know that I can.
Thank you, dear lady. And know that you will never be forgotten.