Look Closer

I received the text below from a good friend of mine, Fr. H. A quick search of the internet shows that it’s not a new email by any means, just one of the rare ones that hadn’t found its way into one of my inboxes yet. Something about this one struck me today and reminded me somewhat of conversations I’d had with my grandmother of her youth. Conversations that worked there way into the eulogy I delivered at her funeral just a few short years later.

There is a wonderful message and reminder within and I won’t lecture or belabor that point here so that you all may read for yourself and hopefully take a few minutes or more to meditate on what she was trying to say.


When an old lady died in the geriatric ward of a small hospital near Dundee, Scotland, it was believed that she had nothing left of any value. Later, when the nurses were going through her meager possessions, they found this poem. It’s 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.

The old lady’s sole bequest to posterity has since 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 old Scottish lady, with nothing left to give to the world, is now the author of this “anonymous” poem winging across the internet entitled “Crabby Old Woman”.

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, nurses,
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 grown fast,
Bound to each other,
With ties that should last.

At forty my young sons
have grown and gone.
But my man’s beside me
To see I don’t mourn.

At fifty, once more
Babies play around 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 people,
Open and see.
Not a crabby old woman;
Look closer… see ME !!!

Remember this poem when you next meet an old person who you might brush aside without looking at the young soul within…..we will all, one day, be there, too!


One thought on “Look Closer

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