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by Thujone Thujone (Member)

Thujone has 1 years experience .

1 Article; 8,615 Visitors; 317 Posts


It's easy to get caught up in all of the complexities that involve getting into, attending, and being a nurse, but there are things that we sometimes forget about. I think that out of those things, the simple reason as to why we started this path to begin with, is one of primary concern, or should be. I encourage you to read the following article. I apologize if someone else has already posted it, but I couldn't find any traces of such. Enjoy!

When an old man died in the geriatric ward of a nursing home in an Australian country town, it was believed that he had nothing left of any value.

Later, when the nurses were going through his meagre 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 Melbourne. The old man's sole bequest to posterity has since appeared in the Christmas editions of magazines around the country and appearing in mags for Mental Health. A slide presentation has also been made based on his simple, but eloquent, poem.

And this old man, with nothing left to give to the world, is now the author of this 'anonymous' poem winging across the Internet.

Cranky Old Man

What do you see nurses? . . .. . .What do you see?

What are you thinking .. . when you're looking at me?

A cranky old man, . . . . . .not very wise,

Uncertain of habit .. . . . . . . .. with faraway eyes?

Who dribbles his 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 sock 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 boy of Sixteen . . . .. with wings on his feet

Dreaming that soon now . . .. . . a lover he'll meet.

A groom 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 man 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 woman is 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 wife is now 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 man . . . . . . .. and nature is cruel.

It's jest to make old age . . . . . . . look like a fool.

The body, it crumbles .. .. . grace and vigour, depart.

There is now a stone . . . where I once had a heart.

But inside this old carcass . A young man 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 cranky old man .

Look closer . . . . see .. .. . .. .... . ME!!

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

Edited by Joe V

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TheCommuter has 10 years experience as a BSN, RN and works as a Case Management RN.

1 Follower; 228 Articles; 315,914 Visitors; 27,607 Posts

Thank you for sharing this!

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Esme12 is a ASN, BSN, RN and works as a Emergency / Trauma Nurse.

4 Followers; 3 Articles; 146,001 Visitors; 20,896 Posts

This circulates every now and then.....but for good reason. We all need to remember what is behind those tired eyes and worn hands.

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demylenated has 18 years experience and works as a Lead Nurse and Educator.

7,240 Visitors; 261 Posts

a nurse's reply:

what do we see, you ask, what do we see

yes we are thinking when we look at thee

we may seem to be hard when we hurry and fuss

but there’s many of you and too few of us

we would like far more time to sit with you and talk

to bathe you and feed you and help you to walk


to hear of your lives and the things you have done

your childhood, your husband your daughter or son

but time is against us, there too much to do

patients too many and nurses too few

we grieve when we see you so sad and alone

with nobody near you no friends of your own


we feel all your pain and know of your fear

that nobody cares no your end is so near

but nurses are people with feelings as well

and when we’re together you’ll often hear tell


of the dearest old gran in the very end bed

and the lovely old dad and the things that he said

we speak with compassion and love, and feel sad

when we think of your lives and the joy that you’ve had

when the time has arrived for you to depart

you leave us behind with an ache in our heart


when you sleep the long sleep, no more worry or care

there are other old people and we must be there

so please understand if we hurry and fuss

there are many of you and too few of us.

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2 Articles; 13,884 Visitors; 11,114 Posts

many nurses are familiar with "the crabbit old woman" poem, often (and erroneously) attributed to a resident in a nh in scotland or elsewhere. it was not found in a resident's belongings, repeated publishings do not generate funds for the benefit of an english nursing organization, and there is now a version that someone wrote purporting to be by an old man in a nursing home in, variously, nebraska, washington, and now, apparently, australia. the original poem is called "look closer" and it's by phyllis mccormack. i read it first in (i think) ajn in the 70s and had it up over my desk for years. i hope it gets as much exposure as the original.

a crabbit old woman

what do you see, nurse, what do you see?

what are you thinking, 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, resisting or not, lets you do as you will,

with bathing and feeding the long days 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 and 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 a secure happy home,

a woman of thirty, my young have grown fast,

bound to each other with ties that should last.

at forty my children are married and 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 to 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 i have known,

i'm an old woman now, and nature is cruel,

tis its jest to make old age look like a fool,

the body it crumbles, grace and vigor depart,

there now is a stone where i once had a heart,

but inside this 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 crabbit old woman.. look closer, see me.

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775 Visitors; 2 Posts

thanks for posting this :)

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7,472 Visitors; 102 Posts

It's nice to see both ends of the spectrum. All of these poems are very heartwarming.

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