Helen writes that she wishes she could list the names of all of those who have “ministered to [her] happiness” over the years. Some are famous and some are obscure, but the influence of all her friends and kindred spirits lives “immortal” in her heart and her mind. Her friends have erased the “perplexities, irritations, and worries” of her life and instead filled her world with brightness, beauty, and harmony.
In her autobiography’s final pages, Helen has paid tribute to her great loves in life: books, nature, and community. Now, she spends some time giving thanks to her friends, and the ways in which they have enriched her life and strengthened her sense of self.
Over the years, Helen has often been asked if other people bore her. She does not quite understand the question, but admits that “stupid and curious questions” about her disabilities and those who condescend to her are hypocritical and exasperating.
Helen shuts down those who would try to imply that because she is so different from other people, she must be unable to connect with them or “bored” by them—she is only bored by people who talk down to her by asking these kinds of questions.
Helen gives thanks for the friends she has never seen or met—those around the world who have written her letters and reached out to communicate with her—just as deeply as she gives thanks for the friendships she has known throughout her life “with many men of genius.” She has known bishops, teachers, and doctors who have imbued her life with knowledge, grace, and important lessons about love, equality, and friendship.
Helen, in this passage, notes and gives thanks for how many different kinds of people have come into her life over the years and helped to make her life richer. Even the friends she has never met—those who have written to her to express their admiration and solidarity—have changed her for the better.
One of the most important friendships in Helen’s life has been that which she has shared with Dr. Alexander Graham Bell, the man who led her to Miss Sullivan and whose love for children and labors on their behalf—especially the deaf and the blind—have made him a revered figure not just to Helen but to many children all over.
Helen is grateful to Dr. Alexander Graham Bell for taking such an interest in her and helping to amplify her voice, attend to her needs, and share the world with her in whatever way he can. He is a truly benevolent individual, and Helen knows that he has helped many other just like her, too.
Helen has enjoyed the company of many literary-minded people and famous writers, including Mark Twain. Though Helen writes that there is not space to mention all of her brilliant literary friends, even if there were, there are secret and sacred aspects of friendship which are better off not being “set forth in cold print.”
Helen’s deep love of books makes her literary friendships all the more special, and though she is reticent about some of them, it’s clear that they hold a very deep meaning to her and are even too sacred to talk about on the page.
Helen concludes that it is her many friends who have “made the story of [her] life.” The kind, generous, intelligent acquaintances and friendships she has made over the years have “turned [her] limitations into beautiful privileges,” and have let her walk “serene and happy” through the world around her, even in spite of the “shadow” which was cast upon her in her youth as the result of her disabilities.