My photo
I ran away from teaching to the country to grow veggies. There are also some chooks and a pair of troublesome goats who were so much trouble they had to go! My simple green life isn't always as simple or as green as I'd like...but I keep trying!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

For Edna

An Old Lady's 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 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, nurses, open and see,
...Not a crabby old woman; look closer ...see ME!!


  1. Love it. Lets hope this is what we remember when we interact with those older than us.

  2. I love this poem....and each time I read it I am taken back to the nursing home where I worked as a teenager, to the nursing homes where I watched my grandparents the place I saw my Mother in Law end her time...I wish that society saw more importance in the end of peoples give them the time, and the respect that they deserve...I did work experience when I was 14 in a nursing home, the first day I was expected to shower a man, he had no legs....I did it...( wouldnt happen these days!!) and thought well, hey, I can do this...I can help this man, and I can do it with care...and his vulnerability and the idea of his independence being totally stripped away from him has stayed with me until this very day..society tells us that the aged and ageing are not worth much...well, I beg to differ.

    1. I was prompted to put up the poem because Edna is in hospital. In fact the hostel where she normally resides is fantastic. She is very happy there and we cannot fault the care she is given. However, in a new situation, like this hospital, their view is limited to the here and now. They only see the patient (not the person)...who is sick, confused, and not her normal self...and they assume that this is the norm. *sigh*

    2. Its so common now days...I guess the nurses are busy and pressured and many probably could be a bit more generous with a few more minutes of 'seeing', you are right...I hope your mum gets better and back into her own surroundings and routines soon...x

  3. I bet Edna feels honoured, just beautiful. I wonder if my parents generation will improve things in nursing homes, they're aren't going to be nearly as polite and patient. They're going to have a riot on their hands.

    1. I like to think she would be honoured, Kirsty, but unfortunately she doesn't even know what day it is. She still deserves respect though!

  4. 9 years ago I had a lot of health issues that had me in hospital alot of a 8month period...and the thing that has stayed with me till this day is the beautiful 84 yr old lady in the bed across from me..she was sharp as a tack no doubts about that at all..the nursing staff treated her disgusting,they didn't listen to her when she tried to ask quiestions.. we struck up a convo and I found out she was scared cause in her 84 yrs she had never been in hospital other than than to have her 8 children and a few of them where born at home...she was scared of the surgery she was about to have ,it wasn't till her children came that the staff where all sweet and nice... I said to hubby that makes me scared to get old.

    1. The trick is to have a brood of bossy children. Mum has four daughters, several engaged adult grand children, some more adult great-grand children....all visiting and asking questions! LOL. If she lasts till October, she will be a great-great grandma (and i will be a great-great aunt!)

  5. A very evocative poem, Hazel. Who wrote it? Should be included in the Contract of Employment for all Care Home staff!

    1. Mark, I don't know who wrote it. It is something I saw years ago and I just Googled...Old lady poem, and up it popped.

  6. What do we see, you ask, what do we see?
    Yes, we are thinking when looking at thee!
    We may seem to be hard when we hurry and fuss,
    But there’s many of you, and too few of us.
    We would like far more time to sit by you and talk,
    To bath you and feed you and help you to walk.
    To hear of your lives and the things you have done;
    Your childhood, your husband, your daughter, your son.
    But time is against us, there’s too much to do -
    Patients too many, and nurses too few.
    We grieve when we see you so sad and alone,
    With nobody near you, no friends of your own.
    We feel all your pain, and know of your fear
    That nobody cares now your end is so near.
    But nurses are people with feelings as well,
    And when we’re together you’ll often hear tell
    Of the dearest old Gran in the very end bed,

    And the lovely old Dad, and the things that he said,
    We speak with compassion and love, and feel sad
    When we think of your lives
    and the joy that you’ve had,
    When the time has arrived for you to depart,
    You leave us behind with an ache in our heart.
    When you sleep the long sleep, no more worry or care,
    There are other old people, and we must be there.
    So please understand if we hurry and fuss -
    There are many of you,
    And so few of us.

    1. Yes, Helen, there is always two (at least) sides to a story. I am not criticizing the care mum is receiving, it is much more subtle than that. It is a look, a word, a lift of the shoulders, a dismissal, and the lack of willingness to hear what relatives have to say. She is in a private hospital now - it was much worse in the public hospital where the staff:patient ratios and changes in staff made continuity of treatment impossible. And we aren't a difficult family. Although I said there are zillions of us visiting, we limit ourselves to one (1) only person whose job it is to interact with the doctors and nurses. We use an email tree to send information to each other and to pose possible questions. Mum's memory is shot, but they still take her word for things because they don't seem to listen, or to even do an effective hand-over at staff change.

  7. Oh hazel, you made me cry today . My grandma went into aged care yesterday and the poem said everything I wanted to say for her. Thankyou.

  8. Hazel, This really struck a chord for me. Years ago, when my sister (then in her thirties) had a series of strokes that left her partially paralyzed and unable to speak, my mother could see that the hospital staff were treating her like a non-entity. So my mother brought my sister's wedding picture to the hospital, propped it up on the counter at the nurse's station and said, "*This* is Mary!" -Jean


Thanks for visiting. I love messages so write as much or as little as your want.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...