Saturday, April 26, 2014

Walking In Her Petticoat

It will be a year on May 20th since I said goodbye to Mrs. Kate Keller. I can still remember that day vividly. The chatter backstage, the “what-if’s” that were floating around the tiny dressing rooms. I had become very close to my friend, Kate, over the past 5 and a half months that I didn’t want to loose her. She became a part of me and who I was. But it didn’t change the fact that I would have to say goodbye no matter what the outcome. So I told my self to enjoy these last few hours with her and with the rest of my One Act family. We had all become so close with our characters; we were Helen and Annie, Captain Keller and Kate, Percy and Vinny and Aunt Ev and Jimmie. And we would all have to say goodbye.

When you think of “The Miracle Worker”, you think of Helen Keller and her deafness and blindness, and how her teacher, Annie, worked so hard to teach her to understand language. But when I think of “The Miracle Worker”, I not only think of Helen and Annie and their relationship and the miracle of language, but I think of the sacrifices that Helen’s mother made for her and the miracle of a mother’s love.

Now of course I am a little bias, but if you really think about it, Annie would not have even meet Helen if Kate didn’t stand up for her daughter and demand for help. No one would ever know the name “Helen Keller” if Kate hadn’t loved her daughter with such selflessness. She was willing to let her daughter basically be raised by another woman to give Helen her best chance. That is one of the most selfless sacrifices any parent can make.

I am not a mother; I have never had a child of my own. But, I have been surrounded by mothers of all ages and stages. New moms and veterans. I have seen a mother fall madly in love with her newborn baby. I have seen how much a crudely drawn stick figure family picture can mean and how proudly it is displayed on the refrigerator. And I have seen how hard it is to let a child go, whether it is to their first sleepover or first year of college. Love is a powerful force.

I believe I drew my love for my Helen from the love of friendship and mentorship. I have two little girls who I would do anything for and I love them to death. I remember when they babies and now they are almost in the fifth grade. I have loved watching them grow up and discover who they are. My protective and motherly love for Helen came from loving those girls. As I became closer with Kate, I never knew how much it could hurt to let a child go. I just thought of my girls and how I would have to leave them while going off to school.

Letting Helen go was the same thing, letting her go to learn from and love someone else, someone besides her mother must have been heartbreaking. Especially when she solely depended on Kate. Kate was her key to everything; food, clothes, love. But now there was a new “mother” in the picture, one who could teach Helen to live on her own rather than having to depend on someone else. That must have hurt the worst. Knowing that she cannot provide for her daughter and that someone else could. They could give Helen a better future than Kate could ever dream. But that was the sacrifice she made. She knew that Helen deserved better, and she knew that she was not able to provide a better future. Kate made a sacrifice that most parents cannot bare to even think of. She let Helen go.

During those short months, I learned a lot from my dear friend Kate. She showed me what selfless love looked like, she taught me to stand up for my loved ones, and she taught me that when life gets hard, it’s ok to ask for help. Kate had to endure 8 long years without help. Sure there were the servants, but no one knew how to deal with a child who could not see or hear or even communicate what she needed. No one loved Helen as much as her mother did, so no one saw how much she needed help in helping and raising her daughter. Kate is one of the strongest women I know and I am so thankful to have been able to get a glimpse of her life.

Kate Keller

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