ACrabbit Old Woman? Or... Look Closer!
What do you see, nurse, what do you see? What are you thinking when you are looking at me? A crabbit 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, you are not looking at me!
I'll tell you who I am, as I sit here so still, as I rise at your bidding, as I eat at your will. I'm a small child of 10, with a father and mother, brothers and sisters, who love one another. A young girl of 16, with wings on her feet hoping that soon now, a lover she'll meet. A bride now at 20 - my heart gives a leap, remembering the vows I promised to keep. At 25 now, I have young of my own, who need me to build a secure, happy home. A woman of 30, my young growing fast, bound to each other with ties that should last. At 40 my sons, now grown, will be gone. But my man stays beside me so I mourn. At 50 once more babies play at my knee... again we know children, my husband and me.
Dark days are upon me, my husband is gone. My young are all busy raising young of their own. I'm an old woman now, and nature is cruel. 'Tis her jest to make old age look like a fool. The body it crumbles. Grace and vigour depart. There is now a stone, where I once had a heart.
But inside this old carcase 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 all over again. And I think of the days, all too few, gone too fast. I accept the stark fact that nothing will last.
So open your eyes, nurse, open and see Not a crabbit old woman.... Look closer --- SEE ME
What do we, 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 more time to sit by you and talk, To bath you, and feed you and help you to walk, To hear of your life, and the things that you've done Your childhood, your husband, your daughter, your son. But time is against us, there's so 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 glad 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 people, - and we must be there. So please understand if we hurry and fuss... There are many of you, and too few of us.