It was Mark Twain who first called Anne Sullivan Macy (1866-1936) the "Miracle Worker" for the education of her famous deaf and blind student Helen Keller. With love and encouragement, Sullivan transformed a reluctant pupil into an inspiration.
Born on this day to poor immigrant Irish parents in Feeding Hills, Massachusetts, Sullivan journeyed from Boston to the Keller home in rural Alabama in 1887, at the recommendation of Alexander Graham Bell.
Sullivan suffered from partial blindness and understood the helplessness of her temperamental six-year-old pupil. Within a month, as dramatically captured in the film The Miracle Worker (1962) with Patty Duke (Keller) and Anne Bancroft (Sullivan), Sullivan, with water flowing from the outside pump, signed the letters "w-a-t-e-r" into her pupil's hand and Keller understood. The fountain of knowledge overflowed.
"My heart is singing for joy this morning!" Sullivan wrote, "A miracle has happened! The light of understanding has shone upon my little pupil's mind, and behold, all things are changed!"
By the next dawn, Sullivan had taught Keller 30 words, spelling them out by touch. In the following years, Keller quickly mastered Braille, attended high school, and graduated cum laude from Radcliffe College. In 1960, Keller dedicated a fountain at Radcliffe in memory of Sullivan and said one word: water.
"Keep on beginning and failing. Each time you fail, start all over again," Sullivan taught. "You will grow stronger until you have accomplished a purpose - not the one you began with perhaps, but one you'll be glad to remember."
For the rest of her life, Anne Sullivan remained Keller's companion and beloved "Teacher."
Celebrate the sweetness of love.