Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Miracle Worker

Patty Duke and Anne Bancroft in The Miracle Worker

The other day, I happened to catch a showing of The Miracle Worker, the wonderful 1962 film starring Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke.  The movie portrays the narrow span of time in which Anne Sullivan, a novice teacher newly fetched from Boston’s Perkins School for the Blind, tackles the formidable task of convincing the wildly out of control seven year old Helen Keller to “tolerate” her and learn how to function in a soundless, sightless world.

Two weeks.  After an initial battle over proper table manners, Helen’s angry father gave Anne two weeks to prove she could make a difference.  Removing Helen from the sphere of her overcompensating, guilt-ridden family, Anne first teaches Helen to rely on her and trust her for all her needs, and this opens the door to greater learning.   When Helen’s parents insist she be returned to the main house after two weeks, in spite of the obvious progress, Helen immediately tests her new bounds, reverting to poor table manners.  When Anne intercedes to prevent this regression, Helen’s father objects that the teacher is treating her like a sighted child – and Anne emphatically agreed.  In order for Helen to learn and ultimately succeed, she must think like a sighted child, and her own expectations had to be high, not self indulgent.

It struck me then how well this story correlates to so many of our Rescued Cairns, and I immediately thought of CP Foster Dad Ron K. and the wonderful video of his Foster Jacket, romping playfully in the snow.  Jacket had come to him as a terrified five-year-old breeder dog, afraid of all people, treats, and the television.  Ron taught her to trust him, with abundant love, patience, and leadership, communicating exactly what he wanted her to do, giving her the strength to embrace life with confidence and joy.  It took more than two weeks, but Ron prepared Jacket well to move on to her Forever Home, where she continued to blossom into a happy, healthy Cairn girl who wiggles with joy when her humans come home.

In memory of Foster Dad Ron K., and in tribute to the many Cairns who have benefited from his strong  yet tender leadership, please enjoy Jacket, romping in the snow…

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