Thoughts on Old Age



This poem appeared when an old lady died in the geriatric ward of a hospital near Dundee, Scotland.  She was believed to have left nothing of value.  Going through her belongings after her death, the nurses came across the poem below, it it so impressed them that they copied and distributed it to every member of the hospital staff. 


Once thought to have nothing of value, this old lady's poem has appeared in several news magazines and other publications, and a slide presentation has been made based on the poem.


A Poem


What do you see, nurses, what do you see,

what are you thinking when you're looking at me?

A crabby old woman, not very wise,

uncertain of habit, with faraway eyes.


Who dribbles her food and makes no reply

when you say in a loud voice, "I do wish you'd try?"

Who seems not to notice the things that you do,

and forever is losing a stocking or shoe.


Who, resisting or not, lets you do as you will

with bathing and feeding, the long day to fill.

Is that what you're thinking?  Is that what you see?

Then open your eyes, nurse; you're not looking at me.


I'll tell you who I am as I sit here so still,

as I move at your bidding, as I eat at your will.

I'm a small child of ten with a father and mother,

brothers and sisters, who love one another.


A young girl of sixteen, with wings on her feet,

dreaming that soon now a lover she'll meet.

A bride soon at twenty--my heart gives a leap,

remembering the vows that I promised to keep.


At twenty-five now, I have young of my own

who need to be guided and a secure happy home.

A woman of thirty, my young now growing fast,

bound to each other with ties that should last.


At forty my young sons have grown and are gone,

but my man's beside me to see I don't mourn.

At fifty once more babies play 'round my knee,

again we know children, my loved one and me.


Dark days are upon me, my husband is dead;

I look at the future, I shudder with dread.

For my young are all rearing young of their own,

and I think of the years and the love that I've known.


I'm now an old woman and nature is cruel;

'tis a jest to make old age look like a fool.

The body, it crumbles, grace and vigor depart,

there is now a stone where I once had a heart.


But inside this old carcass a young girl still dwells,

and now and again my battered heart swells.

I remember the joys, I remember the pain,

and I'm loving and living life over again.


I think of the years; they were gone all too fast,

and accept the stark fact that nothing can last.

So open your eyes, nurses, open and see,

not a crabby old woman; look closer -- see ME!



Remember this poem when you meet an elderly person, for once they were young like you and someday, God willing, you will be walking where they are . . . Life does that and it just keeps going round . . .



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