Helen Keller was a civil rights activist and a lecturer. Unfortunately, she was completely blind and deaf. She was nominated for the Nobel Prize several times. However, there were a lot of versions of stories about Helen Keller and her teacher, Annie Sullivan Macy, roaming around the internet. In this article, I am going to tell you such a story that came into the picture recently, in 2021. But this story also includes some unacceptable and unverified information about both of them, along with a true incident. So, it is better to read this story as a heart-touching and motivational story rather than consider it a source of verified historical information.
This story starts with a neurosurgeon called Dr. Frank Mayfield visiting the Tewksbury Institute. Then he accidentally saw an old floor maid who was working and casually asked her how long she had been working there. She replied that she had been working there since this hospital opened. With that answer, Dr. Mayfield wanted to know any informal information regarding the history of the hospital from her. Once he asked about it, the answer she gave sounded curious and strange.
The old floor maid led Dr. Mayfield down to the base floor of the building, which is the oldest part, and showed him something. Dr. Mayfield was shocked to see it. It was a little old cage. It looked similar to a prison cell. The old maid introduced it as the cage where Annie Sullivan was kept. But why was she kept in a cage? Dr. Mayfield had the same question at that moment.
According to the elderly maid, Annie used to have abnormal behaviours. She was not friendly at all. She used to scratch, bite, or throw objects at the people who came to interact with her. That’s why doctors of the Tewksbury Institute decided to keep her in a cage that looked like a prison cell.
During the period when Annie Sullivan was kept in that cage, this elderly maid was a young maid working there. She revealed a past story that contained significant information about Annie Sullivan’s history.
This young maid used to be curious and compassionate about the young lady who was kept in the cell. She used to wonder what if Annie was her. The fear and pain those thoughts brought to her prompted her to help Annie despite Annie’s horrible behaviours.
One day, this young maid went to the basement of Tewksbury Institute to meet Annie. She brought some brownies she baked for Annie last night. Suppressing the fear, she called Annie and told her that she had brought some brownies that had been baked just for her. Annie’s reaction was not what the young maid expected.
Annie didn’t shout. She didn’t throw brownies at her. It was miraculous. This young maid’s kindness turned Annie into a different person than she used to be. Soon, the doctors of Tewksbury Institute became aware of this new friendship between Annie and the young maid. Then they took the support of this maid for interacting with Annie. This kind maid eased the treatment process. Doctors identified Annie as partially blind. By the passing of a year, she was granted the help of the Perkins Institute for the Blind. Thanks to the maid’s kindness, Annie got better day by day. They guided her with her studies. That way, the girl who used to be in a cage became a teacher.
After becoming a teacher, she visited Tewksbury Institute. She wanted to join them and help them as a way of showing gratitude. By that time, the director of Tewksbury Institute had received a request letter from a man who had a daughter who was completely blind and deaf. She was as uncontrollable as Annie used to be. The director asked Annie’s help in guiding that girl. Annie happily accepted that request and went to that girl’s house. Till then, Annie was the teacher, guide and also friend of that girl. Yes, you are correct. That girl is none other than Helen Keller.
Annie Sullivan is the great woman behind the success of Helen Keller. Annie turned Helen from a furious and uncontrollable girl to a brave woman who speaks for civil rights. That’s why Helen Keller said that Annie Sullivan was the greatest influence of her life when she won the Nobel Prize. Gratefully, Annie granted all credit to that young maid who brought her out of the awful life she used to have. She stated that the young maid was the real strength behind both Helen and her.
Here we come to the end of that great motivational story. You may definitely feel inspired and compassionated right now. That’s totally normal because that’s how you should feel at the end of a great story. However, as I mentioned earlier, it is better to refer to this just as a “story”, because this story includes a few unacceptable and unverified facts about history.
Helen Keller was indeed nominated for the Nobel Prize not just once but several times. But she never won one. This story includes such a part may be to enhance the overall impression of it. Perhaps a lot of changes have happened during the evolution of the story because the person who revealed it, is a nurse who heard it from Dr. Mayfield, who heard it from an unnamed elderly floor maid. Nevertheless, the great influence this story had on our lives is what actually matters most in the end.
Source: (Evon, 2021)