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keith
17-06-2009, 09:41 PM
I don't usually post these things that tend to overwhelm my email box every morning, but I hadn't seen this one before and it made me stop and think.


When an old lady died in the geriatric ward of a small hospital near Dundee Scotland it was believed that she had nothing left of any value. Later, when 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:

Crabby Old Woman

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 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 guide ................ And a 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,
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, people,...............................Open and see,
Not a crabby old woman;..........Look closer......see,.....ME!!

Remember this poem when you next meet an older person who you might brush aside without looking at the young soul within .... we may all, one day, be there, too!

Mari
17-06-2009, 10:02 PM
Im a crying so har dI can barely write...

That poem could have very well been written by my grandma who has Alzheimers...... :(

foreverducky
17-06-2009, 10:35 PM
I also have big tears.

I have a special part in my heart for our elderly. I have and hope to work with them again. They should be regarded as priceless, but unfortunately, many times they are not. They are pushed aside and forgotten so many times!!!

Shellyamc
18-06-2009, 02:06 AM
I don't have words. This is my Nana..I see her in there every now and then..trapped.

I will keep this for the hard days..

Tink
18-06-2009, 03:01 AM
I've seen this poem. It is incredibly beautiful in it's stark sharing of the realities of growing old, and the treatment many of our elders receive from people who are supposed to be "caring for them," or worse, "loving them."

Each old woman with her lined face and hands, that are sometimes stiff, each one will smile, will pat your hand, your shoulder, maybe your hair. They will talk with you if you let them, all you really need to do is listen. What glorious and wonderful stories you'll hear. Those are the recountings of history that we should be recording. Those memories are the legacies and and the gifts that our elders die without having had their gifts respected, appreciated or understood.

Old age isn't sexy, it isn't considered pretty, it scares all too many of us so we push it away. Truly, in that old, lined face full of character; look closely. You shall see yourself.

sunsetlakes
18-06-2009, 06:33 AM
What a beautiful poem, it bought tears to my eyes and a lump to my throat. If only more people remembered that each line and wrinkle on a persons face should be seen as a medal of their journey through life.

Isafari
18-06-2009, 07:30 AM
I've sat here for a while, wanting to respond but not quite knowing how to express what I want to say. It brought back some painful memories of when Mam was in hospital before she died. She lost all of her dignity and I could see in her eyes how much that hurt.

Lovely, deep poem Keith.

Tink
18-06-2009, 10:50 AM
Issy. :hug2: You gave your Mam unconditional love, and complete respect. I know that it is hard for you to believe that she understood any of that toward the end, but she did. I promise you. She couldn't show it, but your love and care for her made a complete difference in her life and gave her the highest quality of life possible. :hug2: I will die wanting you to realize how wonderful you were to her. :hug2:

Britchick
18-06-2009, 11:44 AM
i love working with older people. We all i think need to respect and care for them a lot more than we.

uscwest
18-06-2009, 11:58 AM
Oh my goodness, what a beautiful and well written poem. It does indeed bring tears to one's eyes.

MystikPiglit
18-06-2009, 12:05 PM
:cry2:


Old people always came and sit next to me on the bus to talk. It's good to share time.

luvthemouse
21-06-2009, 12:18 AM
I've read this many times and it never fails to bring tears to my eyes. The majority of my patients are geriatric, and I truly enjoy talking with all of them..

Tink
21-06-2009, 01:10 PM
MystikPiglit, when we were on holiday in Hawaii, we took the public bus (Hawaii has the best public bus system in the US) on Oahu to the Pearl Harbor Exhibit.

On the way back, a very elderly woman of Asian descent (I'm guessing Japanese, given her clothing) told me her life story. It was very hard to maintain composure, but my favorite memory of that holiday.

Perhaps because I've always loved oral history over written, I view our elders retellings of their lives as our greatest treasure. I wish their experiences were valued more than our collective society currently does. :sigh:

MystikPiglit
21-06-2009, 03:13 PM
I view our elders retellings of their lives as our greatest treasure. I wish their experiences were valued more than our collective society currently does. :sigh:

I totally agree with you.:hug2:

Deb
22-06-2009, 10:01 AM
My family were never an affectionate, close family. My Mam moved in with my Nanna to take care of your when she got Alzheimers, but I never saw her hug her. When Nanna got to bad she was moved to a care home for a while. At this point she could really do nothing for herself, or speak, and it used to really upset me particularly to see the staff who were supposed to be feeding her leave a plate of food in front of her, and take it away because she hadn't touched it, despite knowing she couldn't hold a knife or fork, or didn't know what food was anymore. But I digress.

There was a particular time we went to visit her when we knew she was getting very bad, and my Mam and Sister sat on chairs around the room whilst Nanna was in a wheelchair in the centre. I went to hold her hand, and then I just started stroking her head, running my fingers through her hair, and touching the skin on her face. Immediately she smiled - the first one since we could remember, a great big serene smile and laid her deliberately head against me as I did it. It amazed me that my family could see her response yet didn't feel comfortable touching her themselves. It's not that they're cold people you understand, it just wasn't the done thing in our family. I realised that it must have been such a long time since someone touched her in a tender loving way, rather than just to be functional, and goodness, don't we all need that?

Whe she was very ill and taken into hospital the next week we went to see her. She was asleep and had her eyes closed, and I was holding her hand. Suddenly her eyes opened, she looked me straight in the eyes, and with perfect lucidity (it seemed to me) said "Deborah". She hadn't been able to remember anyone's name for years, and I do feel that the simple connection the week before had helped.

I too have read that poem before and it always reminds me of that, and the fact that inside an older person there is always the person they have been since they were born.

Tink
22-06-2009, 11:52 AM
She did know you. That isn't a statement of belief, it is a statement of fact and reality.

The brain in Alz. as it grows smaller and gaping "holes" are created does lose it's functions in fairly predictable ways. You can see the progression of the disease, and you can learn interventions that are affective given the remaining working portions of the brain.

You did exactly the correct thing to form a connection with her, given what remained of her working brain and it was effective.

Caregivers who leave food in front of a person with this illness and walk away need to be fired on the spot (and yes, I have done so and will continue to do so when I see it). There is no excuse for that. It is clinical neglect and can be deemed clinical abuse in some cases.

Every single one of us is responsible for the way our elders are treated in society, hospitals, care facilities and private homes. Everyone. Not just the person doing the most difficult job in the world; providing that care.

I'm going to try very hard not to be too strident here, but as you all know very well, it is my passion.