A beautiful tribute to someone with early-onset dementia.
What Do You See?
The poem which appears below was written by an aged and wise lady, a patient in the geriatric ward of a hospital in Bath, England. It was found among her possessions by a nurse after she died.
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 departs.
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 in 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 you eyes, nurses, open and see
Not a crabbit old woman, look closer -- see ME.
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
Dreaming that soon now a lover she'll meet;
A bride now at 20 -- my heart gives a leap,
Remembering the vows that 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 now grow fast,
Bound to each other with ties that should last;
At 40 my young sons have grown and are gone,
But my man's beside me to see I don't mourn;
At 50, 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.
What do you see, nurses, what do you see?
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 unresisting or not, lets you do as you will
With bathing and feeding, the long day to fill,
Is that what you are 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 there so still,
As I use at your bidding, as I eat at your will:
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