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"Crabbit Old Woman"

What do you see nurses, what do you see?
What are you thinking when you are looking at me?

A crabbit old woman, not very wise
Uncertain of habit, with far away 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 unresisting or not, lets you do as you will,
With bathing or feding, a long day to fill.

Is that what you are thinking, it 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 use at your bidding
As I eat at your will....

I'm a small child of ten with a father and a 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 a twenty, my heart gives a leap
Remembering the vows that I promise to keep
At twenty five now I have young of my own
Who need me to build a secure and happy home,

A woman of thirty,my young now grow 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 knees
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 an old woman now and nature is cruel
Tis her 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 fact that nothing can last

So open your eyes nurse, open and see!
Not a crabbit old woman, look closer....see me!


This poem appeared when an old lady died in the geriatric ward of Ashludie Hospital She left nothing of value, but a nurse going through her personal possessions found this poem.

Goodall Hospital where I worked, shared this poem with nurses at a mandatory inservice, there wasn't a dry eye in the room, and I think it made all of us better nurses! - Handpainted and Customized Canes