I'm sure most of you have read this before but I came across this while I was going through some papers.

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!!

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Thank you! Its a beautiful poem. I needed the reminder. I know we all get bogged down in the daily routine but it only takes a moment to truly see someone.

I couldn't even get past the first section; it was so emotional it filled my eyes with tears. But I copied and saved it for future reading, when I need to be reminded how to be compassionate, and when I myself reach the stage of feeling as the author did.

Thanks for sharing; sometimes we need this kind of powerful prose to remind us to be thankful, understanding, compassionate and considerate.

Oh, my. That is so touching. It actually made me cry. It's very much the way I think when I consider my LO, who now has severe dementia. And she's not even that old, yet, in the last stage of this horrible disease. We are blessed that she has excellent staff members who look after her. I do have faith that they do see her. I always remind them of her former life and what she was like, her work, her travels, her family, good times, etc. I make sure to do it in front of my LO. I'm not sure how much she can process, but, just in case, she can hear it.

Thank you for posting that poem.  It says so much. 

That is beautiful, thanks for posting.

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