When an old woman died in the geriatric ward of a nursing home in Moosomin, Saskatchewan,Canada..it was believed that she had nothing left of any value. Later, when the nurses were going through her meager possessions, they found this poem.
What are you thinking .. .. .. when you're looking at me?
A crabby old lady .. .. .. 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 sock or shoe?
Who, resisting or not .. .. .. lets you do as you will,
With bathing and feeding .. .. .. a 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 girl 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 . .. .. 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 is beside me . .. . to see I don't mourn.
At Fifty, once more, . .. .. babies play 'round my knee,
Again, we know children .. .. . My husband and me.
Dark days are upon me .. .. .. my husband's now dead.
I look at the future .. .. .. and 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!!
The old woman's sole bequest to posterity has since appeared in the Christmas edition of the News Magazine of the St. Louis Association for Mental Health. A slide presentation has also been made based on this simple, but eloquent, poem.
Remember this poem when you next meet an older person who you might brush aside without looking at the young soul within. We will all, one day, be there, too!