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. Later, as the nurses were going through her meagre possessions, they found this poem. Its quality and content so impressed the staff that copies were made and distributed to every nurse in the hospital. One nurse took her copy to Ireland. The old lady's sole bequest to posterity has since appeared in the Christmas edition of the News Magazine of the North Ireland Association for Mental Health.
A slide presentation has also been made based on her simple, but eloquent, poem. And this little old Scottish lady, with nothing left to give to the world, is now the author of this "anonymous" poem winging across the Internet
The Old Lady
What do you see, nurse, 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, and giving me pills"
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 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 me to provide them 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 husband's beside me to see I don't mourn.
At sixty 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 and 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 people look like a fool.
The body, it crumbles, grace and vigour depart
But deep down inside I still have a young heart.
Yes, 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 nurse, open them and see
Not a crabby old woman; look closer.....
Remember this poem when you next meet an old person who you might brush aside without looking at the young soul within...Lord willing we will one day be there also!