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SHANIA TWAIN - REAL-LIFE ANGEL TO A BLIND GRANNY (The National Enquirer)

The touching friendship that healed singer's broken heart HAUNTED by friend after her parents were killed in an accident, Shania Twain turned to a blind and nearly deaf elderly woman to ease her heartache -- beginning a touching relationship that continues today.
"Shania was an angel to me and gave me the happiest moments of my life," 88-year-old Aileen Laamanen told The ENQUIRER."And I think I taught her to smile again."
Their odd-couple friendship began in 1990 when Shania -- still waiting for her big break -- signed up as a volunteer for the Canadian National Institute for the Blind in her hometown of Timmins, Ontario. For more than a year, she dropped in regularly on Aileen, a widowed grandmother, at her home in nearby South Porcupine. She guided her on walks, read to her and took her out for lunch and shopping expeditions.
"Her parents had been killed in a terrible car crash in 1987, and the tragedy still haunted her," said Aileen. "She shared her feelings with me after I told her I'd lost a brother in an accident back in 1924. I just listened to her pain and tried to comfort her.  "I told her, 'Time will heal your wounds. The future will bring better things, don't you worry.' "
"Shania also told me about her fears for her sister, who has diabetes. Because I have diabetes myself, she said she felt comfortable talking to be about it."   "I told her, 'Your sister can still live a strong, relatively normal life.' My words seemed to help her."
Shania shared her dreams of becoming a singing star. "She told me she was preparing by rehearsing in the forest and singing in local taverns," said Aileen.   "I told her, 'If you want to be really happy, do what you really like to do.' I like to think she took my advice."
Their regular meetings ended when Shania took off for Nashville to begin a glittering career that hit a new high last September when she wont he Country Music Association's Entertainer of the Year award.  But their relationship goes on. "She still sends me cards and flowers," said Aileen. "And she still signs the cards by her real name -- Eilleen.
"I couldn't tell you what she looks like -- I can't see well enough. but whenever I think of her, I picture her smiling." 

-- CARL WARREN

 

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