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Companionship of Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan

On the advice of Dr. Alexander Graham Bell, the parents of Helen Keller sent for a teacher from the Perkins Institution for the Blind in Boston, Massachusetts. Anne Sullivan, a 19-year-old orphan, was chosen for the task of instructing 6-year-old Helen. It was the beginning of a close and lifelong friendship between them. By means of a manual alphabet, Anne "spelled" into Helen's hand such words as doll or puppy. Two years later Helen was reading and writing Braille fluently. At 10 Helen learned different sounds by placing her fingers on her teacher's larynx and "hearing" the vibrations. Later Helen went to Radcliffe College, where Anne spelled the lectures into Helen's hand. After graduating with honors, Helen decided to devote her life to helping the blind and deaf. As part of that endeavor, she wrote many books and articles and traveled around the world making speeches. Since Helen's speeches were not intelligible to some, Anne often translated them for her.

Their nearly 50 years of companionship ended when Anne died in 1936. Helen wrote these endearing words about her lifelong friend:

My teacher is so near to me that I scarcely think of myself apart from her. I feel that her being is inseparable from my own, and that the footsteps of my life are in hers. All the best of me belongs to her—there is not a talent or an inspiration or a joy in me that has not been awakened by her loving touch.

In many ways, what Anne Sullivan was to Helen Keller, the Holy Spirit is to the believer.

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