Helen Keller on the Sense of Smell

27 06 2010

I came across this quote that I love, especially considering it is from Helen Keller, who most might say, has the authority to have an opinion on our senses — especially one we so often take for granted — smell.

“Smell is a potent wizard that transports you across thousands of miles and all the years you have lived.”

Have you ever gotten a whiff of freshly baking bread that instantly reminded you of summers at Mamaw’s house, or a cologne that instantly transported you back to your high school days, peppermint that reminded you of the kindly old gentleman at church who always had a bagful for any child who asked?

While most of us are familiar with Helen Keller through her inspirational story, and the dramatic film “The Miracle Worker,” some may not know that she was born in Alabama, on this day, June 27th, in 1880. She came from an old Alabamian family. She was not born blind and deaf, but contracted an illness at only 19 months that left her without these valuable senses. She was friends with Mark Twain, who was, in fact, the origin of the phrase describing Keller’s famous tutor, Anne Sullivan as “miracle worker.”

Alabama honored Keller in 2003 on their state quarter and has a hospital, in Sheffield dedicated to her.

Helen Keller, holding a magnolia bloom

They say that when you lose a sense, the others become stronger to make up for it. How grateful we are that we can only speculate on how losing two of the most crucial senses would make Helen Keller appreciate all the more the remaining assets of touch and smell. I can only imagine the smells she would have encountered growing up as a child in the great state of Alabama — the flowers, the foods. Take a moment to reflect on this famous “Southerner” on the anniversary of her birth today. And be thankful for the blessings we’ve received.

What scents bring back memories for you?



One response

27 06 2010

I can recall living in Virginia and smelling the hay in the fields across from our house in the morning. The morning dew mixed with the hay still lingers in my mind.

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