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An Old Lady's Poem
In Memory of Dorothy Prince Griffin
1914 - 1992
Updated June 10, 2004


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 son has grown and is gone, 
but my man's beside me to see I don't mourn. 
At fifty-five once more, babies play round my knee, 
again we know children, my son and me. 
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, people, open and see, 
not a crabby old woman; look  closer ..see ME!! 

When an elderly woman died in the geriatric ward of a small hospital near Dundee, Scotland, it was felt
that she had nothing left of any value.  Later, when the nurses were going through her meager possessions, they found  this poem.  Its quality and content so impressed the staff that copies were made and distributed to every nurse in the hospital.  One nurse took her copy to Ireland and it appeared in the
Christmas edition of the News Magazine of the North Ireland Association  for Mental Health.

A slide presentation has also been made based on her simple, but eloquent, poem.  And this little Scottish
lady, with nothing left to give to the  world, is now the author of this "anonymous" poem winging across the Internet.