Saturday, August 11, 2007

What Do You See?

My sweet Grandmother, about whom I've posted before, is a vivacious 80-something year old woman with a heart for others. She volunteers in the two nursing homes in her town each week. Many of the people she visits are younger than her! Everytime we visit her, we accompany her on her "rounds" and always enjoy our time with the patients. The way their faces light up when she walks in the room speaks of the loving rapport she has with them, born of the hours she has spend looking into their eyes and getting to know them.

My son has become very interested in volunteering in a retirement facility in our town, running BINGO games once a week and helping some of them grocery shop at WalMart. I'm so glad he has a heart for these dear older people, and I believe it has stemmed from our visits to the nursing homes with my Grandmother. There is so much to be learned from them!

Recently my Grandmother came across this poem and gave it to the staff at each of the facilities in which she volunteers. I read it before our most recent visit, and it really changed how I saw these precious, precious people. It was written by an old woman in a geriatric ward in a hospital in Scotland. It was assumed she hadn't left anything "of value" when she died, but upon going through her things, this poem was found:

"An Old Lady's Poem"

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!!

Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.
James 1:27


Linda said...

Hi Cyndi,
How wonderful that your son has a heart for the elderly. I love being with older (older than me) folks. They really do have so much to give.
The poem is heartbreaking. It reminds me of that song Twyla Paris wrote years ago "Same Girl". I can never listen to it without tears.
Have a blessed weekend.

Amberly said...

Absolutely beautiful! Thanks so much for sharing.

Tricia said...

My mom is a home health aid for the elderly. She is so good at what she does.

She really sees beyond the messiness of people straight to their hearts.

I forwarded the poem to her, I know she will love it.

The Preacher's Wife said...

I could squawl...I had this conversation with Luke the other day..No matter how old we get, we still have the same young heart! How will either one of us stand it living apart from the other? I can't bare to think abour it!

I've got to go blow my nose...:)

Anonymous said...

It is great to read of your sons love for the elderly and enjoyment in helping them. The poem was also wonderful. :0)

Sonya said...

What a beautiful poem! I just love it! It reminds me of my great-grandmother, who spent her last years in a nursing home. She couldn't speak and barely knew we were around but I'd like to think that this poem was swirling around in her head!

Barbara H. said...

My sister is a CNA at a nursing home and sent me a copy of this -- truly touching. It's wonderful that your son has a love of the elderly and a desire to minister to them.

Barbara H. @ Stray Thoughts

Dianne said...

Thank you for sharing that beautiful poem. So true it is. How we choose to see really does make all the difference!