Monday, March 10, 2008

An Old Lady

When an old lady died in the geriatric ward of a small hospital near
Dundee, Scotland, it was felt that she had nothing left of any value.
Bellevue Hospital New York a Critical Case
Bellevue Hospital a Critical Case

Later, when the nurses were going through her meager possessions,
they found this 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!"
Hospital Patient Receives a Visitor While a Nurse Stands By
Hospital Patient Receives a Visitor While a Nurse Stands By

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 do at your bidding, as I eat at your will;

I'm a small child of eight...with a father and mother,
An Eight-Year-Old Female is Asleep on Her Bed by Joel Sartore
An Eight-Year-Old Female is Asleep on Her Bed

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,
Nursing Mother (Stephanie Gruenwald) 1917 by Egon Schiele
Nursing Mother (Stephanie Gruenwald) 1917

Who need me to guide and secure happy home.

A woman of thirty, my young now grown 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,
Me Too? by Frederick Morgan
Me Too?

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 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... all too few, gone 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!!

Victorian Lady, Purple Dress by John O'brien
Victorian Lady, Purple Dress

Remember this poem when you next meet an old person
who you might brush aside without looking at the young soul within.....

all posters

Sincerely, Mimi


Sharon said...

This was so touching!!! I raised my daughter to respect and listen to older folks. I told her that they usually have much wisdom to share and they can help you avoid the mistakes they made if you'll only take the time to listen.
She is 21 and still loves older people. She loves being around them and hearing their stories. :)
This is such a wonderful post!!!! If you don't mind, I'd like to link to it so others can read it that might not know of your blog.

Barbara said...

This poem is so touching. I see so many young people being disrespectful to the older people.

Mary said...


The words of this poem are powerful and true. I worked as a nurse in a nursing home and oh, the stories the residents had to tell of days gone by. I have lived a life I would never have known by listening to their stories while they were ignored by others because they were old.

Thanks for your comments on my snow post. Yes, there is a lot but when I was young we had many snowfalls like this. It is certainly good for God's Earth.

And thank you too for your continued prayer for Michelle. I will give another update as soon as we find out the lab results.


Daughter of the King said...

This is so tender and so beautiful
and such a reminder. I do think that our society does not put much value on the elder population. In my church they do and I love it.
this was so so good.

Beka said...

Yes, this is so beautiful and thought-provoking... something our society needs to pay attention to!!

Sarah said...

It brought a tear to my eye Mimi. Thank you.

SweetAnnee said...

Lovely..I don't know why
we are so intolerant of the aging.
Perhaps it's our fear of being old.
Lovely poem.

joan said...

Love this poem! So many older folks I know just want soemone to talk to. Good post.

Feathering My Nest said...

Thank you for sharing this. My parents taught me always to respect older people and to see them as the dear souls that they were. I'm so glad you shared this. It is a reminder to truly remember that the elderly person doesn't think of themselves as old, but as that same person who was once 16, or 25, or 30. I'm almost 48. I'm so glad to be where I am, but at times I still feel like that little 9 year old girl looking into the mirror in the bathroom at school. Someday we will be with Jesus and we will have our new bodies, and all of this life will be forgotten. It's good to have compassion for all elderly folks, and especially tenderness towards them.


Denise said...

How wonderful... I care for my Father of 90 and Mother of 88.. and somedays it is just hard to deal with everything even though I love them with all my heart... I do have to remind myself that I too one day with the grace of God be in a place that I too will need some help.... thanks for the beautiful reminder....

Sharon said...

Oh, that is so lovely! What a neat message! What a neat attitude she had. You do have to stop and remember that the elderly people around us all were young once and had full and active lives.

Hugs, Sharon

Lisa said...

What a beautiful Post. I am so glad I visited here today. The elderly have so much wisdom to share.Thank you for this touching post. Lisa

Mary Isabella said...

This is an awesome poem and reminder to always respect our elders. With out their guideance where would we all be.....Mary

nannykim said...

Hmm, I received that same poem in an email yesterday and they were saying it was written by an old man--it had man instead of woman---perhaps he just carried a copy--or perhaps someone frabricated the story in the email?

Patty said...

When my husband was in management at a local nursing home, they had this posted near the nurses station. A wonderful reminder to look beyond the appearance.

Charli and me said...

What a wonderful and touching poem.

Susan said...

Wow, this was so BEAUTIFUL! Thanks so much for sharing this...

I enjoy dropping by your awesome blog...


Cathy said...

That is very sweet, Mimi. I've read it before in an email.

Dawn said...

So beautiful. It is amazing how as we grow older, we still feel like that young person we used to be! Except for the dumb things that are happening to our bodies!

Joyce's Ramblings said...

I loved your post. There is a reason to talk to an old person not only for their wisdom but sometimes just so they can hear another voice that day.

jennifer said...

Fabulous poem Mimi. Makes one think....Jennifer

Jodi said...

What a poignant poem! I know through all those years at the nursing home you always *saw* the young souls of your little ladies (and men). That's why they loved you so dearly. Love you ((Mom))!

Anonymous said...

What a sweet and touching story. I miss my grandmothers and my great aunts. They went home to Jesus some years ago. I miss the stories, their love and the laughter!
Thank you for this warm rememberance.
M <><