Journal of Gerontological Nursing

Editorial

Edna Stilwell, RN, MS

Abstract

Since our original .publication of the poem "Crabbit Old Woman" in the May, June 1976 issue of THE JOURNAL OF GERONTOLOGICAL NURSING, there has been an international response to our question regarding the source of the poem. We appreciate the following information which was forwarded to us from Mrs. Rosalie M.Th. Biemans, Indexing Section, National Library of Medicine, Bethesda, Maryland. The January 1973 issue of Nursing Mirror and Midwives Journal reported a letter from Miss Phyllis McÇormack, a nurse at Sunnyside Hospital, Montrose, Scotland, in which she says that she had written the poem in 1966 but had signed it "Anon," not realizing the impact it would have.

Although it may disappoint us to read that the poem was not written by an older person, the insight shown by the author has been recognized by older people in many parts of the world.

What do you see nurse, what do you see?

What are you thinking when you look at me?

A crabbit old woman, not very wise,

Uncertain of habit, with far away eyes,

Who dribbles her food, and makes not 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 your thinking, is that what you see?

Then open your eyes, you're not looking at me.

IH tell you who I am as I sit here so still,

As I move at your bidding, as I eat at your will.

I am a small child of ten with a father and a mother,

Brothers and sisters who love one another.

A young girl at sixteen with wings at her feet

Dreaming that soon now a lover shell meet.

A bride soon at twenty, my heart gives a leap,

Remembering the vows that I promised to keep.

At twenty-five now 1 have young of my own

Who need me to build a secure happy home.

A woman of thirty, my young now grow fast,

Bound to each other with ties that should last.

At forty my young now soon will be gone,

But my man stays beside me to see I don't mourn.

At fifty once more babies play around njy 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 busy rearing young of their own

And I think of the years and the love I have known.

I'm an old lady now and nature is cruel,

'Tis her jest to make old age look like a fool.

The body it crumbles, grace and vigor depart,

And now there is a stone where I once had a heart.

But inside this old carcase a young girt still dwells,

And now and again my battered heart swells.

I remember the joys, I remember the pain,

And I am loving and living life over again.

I think of the years all too few, gone so fast,

And accept the stark fact that nothing can last.

So open your eyes, nurse, open and see,

Not a crabbit old woman, look closer, see Me.

We wish to welcome Sister Erika Bunke, MSN, RN; Irene M. Burnside, RN, MS; Jacqueline Heppler, RN, MS; Rowena Rogers, RN; and Janet Specht, RN, BSN as new members of our expanded Editorial Board. We have been most fortunate in attracting outstanding…

Since our original .publication of the poem "Crabbit Old Woman" in the May, June 1976 issue of THE JOURNAL OF GERONTOLOGICAL NURSING, there has been an international response to our question regarding the source of the poem. We appreciate the following information which was forwarded to us from Mrs. Rosalie M.Th. Biemans, Indexing Section, National Library of Medicine, Bethesda, Maryland. The January 1973 issue of Nursing Mirror and Midwives Journal reported a letter from Miss Phyllis McÇormack, a nurse at Sunnyside Hospital, Montrose, Scotland, in which she says that she had written the poem in 1966 but had signed it "Anon," not realizing the impact it would have.

Although it may disappoint us to read that the poem was not written by an older person, the insight shown by the author has been recognized by older people in many parts of the world.

What do you see nurse, what do you see?

What are you thinking when you look at me?

A crabbit old woman, not very wise,

Uncertain of habit, with far away eyes,

Who dribbles her food, and makes not 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 your thinking, is that what you see?

Then open your eyes, you're not looking at me.

IH tell you who I am as I sit here so still,

As I move at your bidding, as I eat at your will.

I am a small child of ten with a father and a mother,

Brothers and sisters who love one another.

A young girl at sixteen with wings at her feet

Dreaming that soon now a lover shell meet.

A bride soon at twenty, my heart gives a leap,

Remembering the vows that I promised to keep.

At twenty-five now 1 have young of my own

Who need me to build a secure happy home.

A woman of thirty, my young now grow fast,

Bound to each other with ties that should last.

At forty my young now soon will be gone,

But my man stays beside me to see I don't mourn.

At fifty once more babies play around njy 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 busy rearing young of their own

And I think of the years and the love I have known.

I'm an old lady now and nature is cruel,

'Tis her jest to make old age look like a fool.

The body it crumbles, grace and vigor depart,

And now there is a stone where I once had a heart.

But inside this old carcase a young girt still dwells,

And now and again my battered heart swells.

I remember the joys, I remember the pain,

And I am loving and living life over again.

I think of the years all too few, gone so fast,

And accept the stark fact that nothing can last.

So open your eyes, nurse, open and see,

Not a crabbit old woman, look closer, see Me.

We wish to welcome Sister Erika Bunke, MSN, RN; Irene M. Burnside, RN, MS; Jacqueline Heppler, RN, MS; Rowena Rogers, RN; and Janet Specht, RN, BSN as new members of our expanded Editorial Board. We have been most fortunate in attracting outstanding gerontological nurses to serve as members of our board. We look forward to their advice and contributions. (See the "Meet Your Leaders" section of this issue for biographical sketches of our new Editorial Board members.)

10.3928/0098-9134-19770701-03

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