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A Person I Would Like to Be: Helen Keller


My daughter Andrea was born with brown eyes and soft brown hair and from the first moment I saw her “beautiful” was the only word that came to mind to describe the light of my life. The way she curled her small hand around my finger when she was a baby, the way her innocent smile carried away my worries and stress when she was a young girl and finally, the very feeling of hugging her and talking to her when she was all grown up are some of the happiest and most cherished moments of my life.

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Yet, despite all the potential she had at the start, fate or possibly random chance saw to it that she would be born with brain damage due to an untimely C-section. Despite her resulting cerebral palsy and seizure disorder never once have I regretted having her, when I look at her I don’t see the problems random chance has given her rather I see my beautiful daughter with her bright eyes and wonderful smile.

While Andrea may not be able to speak due to her condition, from time to time I see the light of recognition in her eyes and even a form of frustration as if she knows what I’m saying, understands what people around her are doing but is trapped by the confines of her body. As much as it pains me to admit, I do understand the diagnosis of the doctors and experts that have examined her that the brain damage she suffered early on has affected her cognitive, physical and emotional development yet I cannot forget that bright spark in her eyes, the smiles she gives and the way in which she opens her eyes when her name is called.

The Experts and My Opinion

As a mother, I cannot help but wonder if what the experts say is all there is. Medical experts throughout the world have been proven wrong in the past ranging from the origin of the bubonic plague, the possibility of organ transplants, the origin of sickness and disease as well as a plethora of other instances that so far convince me that not everything they say can be considered solid fact.

I cannot say that I am not wholly blinded by hope and love for my daughter, my love for her has been the driving force behind my career and in fact I currently work as a unit manager at the nursing facility where she is at the present. Even if it is for just a day, an hour or even a minute I would love to know if she knows what is going on around her and what she feels and thinks, especially if she is aware how much I love her and what she thinks of me. It is my belief that despite Andrea being born with brain damage somewhere in there is my little girl knowing what’s going on around her and struggling to express herself.

The Life of Helen Keller

My belief in Andrea’s capacity to think and know what’s going on around her is based on my own exploration of classic American literature. Completely by accident I stumbled upon the works of Helen Keller and when I found out that Keller was deaf and blind when she wrote (with the help Anne Sullivan) some of the her greatest works I realized that an individual’s capacity to achieve something is not limited by their disability rather it is achieved by the capacity of others to look beyond the disability and see the individual within. Throughout her life Keller never let her blindness and deafness prevent her from achieving great things and as such it is her life that gives me hope for Andrea.

Understanding Andrea

If I were to become Andrea for even a short while I would be able to tell if she really can understand what other people are saying to her, if she possesses the cognitive skills to know what is to love and be loved, to care for others and to understand just how much I cherish her. By becoming her I might be able to know that when I tell her everything is alright, that she’s perfectly fine the way she is and that she shouldn’t be sad or depressed over her condition, that she would truly be able to understand me and feel at peace. Sometimes I stay awake at night wondering if Andrea knows that she isn’t like other people, that she cannot walk and talk as others do, that my little girl is trapped within her body with no way out and that day by day she gets more and more depressed as she attempts to express herself but is unable to do so.

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I know my daughter can see, hear and understand; she responds when her name is called, she has this look in her eyes whenever I talk to her and everyday when I hold her I can almost feel my daughter trying to express herself. Right now Andrea is 24 years old, and my greatest fear is that once I die no one will be there to hold her, talk to her and love her as I can. While it is true that I can make preparations to ensure that she will be well cared for in the future the fact remains that it is unlikely she will ever experience the things girls her age take for granted. She will never experience the magic of true love; she will never find that one special person who will love her till the day he dies, her life from now till the day she dies will consist of routines so monotonous that it breaks my heart to realize that she may have to live her life alone.


If I could become her for just one day maybe I could discover that my daughter has the capacity to communicate, can understand people and is just being held back by her own disability. If this is the case then maybe something could be done instead of merely assuming that nothing is possible. The only thing I truly have is hope, hope that one day something can be done, hope that my daughter can live a good life and hope that maybe one day a miracle can happen and I can be my daughter, be in her shoes and realize my little girl has loved me for all this time.

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