Face of the day

Woman in nursing home

Woman in nursing home

When an old lady died in the geriatric ward of a small hospital near Dundee, Scotland nurses found a poem amongst her few possessions but nothing of any material value.

The poem so impressed the staff that copies were made and distributed to every nurse in the hospital. One nurse took her copy to Ireland and eventually a copy appeared in the Christmas edition of the News Magazine of the North. It has done the rounds of the internet and now you too can share in this little treasure penned by a little old Scottish lady.


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””
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….
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 around 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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  • Rua

    That was beautiful and moving…

  • intelligentes candida diva

    A lesson in that poem for all.

    There are many elderly in the health system who are forgotten as individuals with personalities and with the public health system always trying to save a buck it is the vulnerable often forgotten.

    Hand on heart I always advocate that patients I have had experience with to be treated as the person and their name not their number.

    Oh and they really do love an audience whether that be to know they are acknowledged as a person for one moment or lonely craving company. My experience with elderly has been humbling.

    Next time take a minute to talk with an elderly person it might be surprising how much you enjoy it.

    • Wendy

      I love my oldies…they are usually the best part of my day

  • Radvad

    Yesterday’s photo of the day and now this. Delightful.

    • KGB

      Yes. Yesterday’s photo of the 2 bent old woman was beautiful. It represented many things beside friendship.

    • 1951

      When I saw yesterday’s photo I thought I had better get back to yoga class fast.

  • Eiselmann

    People come and go in our life’s and often all they see is a snapshot., however we’re all so much deeper than that, different paths of course but each time those paths touch another and we encounter each other we add to the depth of a life…wonderful poem.

  • Soleman

    Sorry to be a grinch and spoil the warm fuzzies this morning, bit if you Google “Cranky Old Man Poem” you will find the same thing except from the male perspective. This version of the poem was allegedly penned by an English nurse and is the original

    • intelligentes candida diva

      I dont think you are a grinch, I am open to other information.
      I have seen various forms of this poem the one aspect that remains the same is the message

  • la la land

    I dont care who wrote this – it brought a tear to the eye – its a lovely poem

  • Last year mum gave me some items gifted to her from a deceased cousin, and I found this little gem amongst them. When I showed it to mum she thought it was hilarious and loved it. Apparently the ex husband left her for a younger woman.

    “John dear John if only you knew
    What your aging and deserted wife can do
    Sailing the seas on ships small and tall
    Trekking and riding with never a fall
    Happy and carefree, full living of life
    As never I did when I was your wife
    Those years never wasted, but never fulfilled
    A sowing of seeds on soil untilled
    Now freedom is mine and new vistas looming
    Truly late flowering and truly late blooming
    Each day a challenge to time running out
    And full understanding of what life’s about.

    (Written whilst sailing on Cutty Sark early 1980s)”.

    • intelligentes candida diva

      A mantra for many who have had a broken marriage but regained their identify to go on and fulfill dreams

  • David Kerr

    Well, got about half way through to see wife’s tears streaming as I read it out. Just lovely, thankyou.