This is my last posting for the topic I have been featuring this summer on Healthy Aging. I will come back to it again, as information surfaces, but I thought this poem, which was found in a bed locker of a woman who died in a nursing home, would be a fitting finale. (The source given at the bottom was: “Reprinted from Family Life Forum, the newsletter of the Presbyterian Church of Canada.”)

What do you see people, what do you see?
Are you seeing, when you look at me
A crabby old woman, not very wise
Uncertain of habit with far away eyes
Who dribbles her food and makes no reply
When you say in aloud 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, unresisting or not, let’s 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?
I’ll tell you who I am as I sit here so still
As I move 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 I have young of my own
Who need me to build a secure, happy home.
A woman of thirty, my young now grow fast.
Bound to each other with ties that should last.
At forty, my young sons now grown will be gone
But my man stays behind 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 to the future, I shudder with dread.
For my young are all busy rearing young of their own,
And I think of the years and the love that I’ve known.
I’m an old woman now and nature is cruel,
’tis her jest to make old age look like a fool,
The body 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 all over again.
And I think of the years all too few–gone too fast
And accept their stark fact that nothing will last,
So open your eyes, people, open and see,
Not a crabby old woman, look closer–see me!!!

4 thoughts on “OPEN YOUR EYES SEE ME (Poem)

  1. A lovely poem, Ellensue. However, there should be a warning attached: “Have tissues available prior to reading.”


  2. As much as things change, they stay the same. Everyone even children filter what you say because they know you’re an old lady, no longer in the know. If only the young had the power to look ahead,
    they would understand the dread of counting for nothing but an old body and a mind to put aside
    as they go on with their own life. Funny how I knew the pitfalls, and how I understood and catered to my parents and all, realized how many ignored them thinking they didn’t have the brains they were born with, or yelled at them as though they didn’t hear, enunciating each word as if they were still in Grammar School. I’ve tried to change the rules for my children and grandchildren, but still I walk a precarious line, hoping I don’t fall off, and behind my back they titter or attack. Truth is I find so much in common with the old and very young, I can still become spontaneous, they will forgive me for all the mistakes I make. Wonderful to read, and know how it feels at 76.

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