12 January 2008

Crabbit Old Woman

A few days ago I came across a blog post (I think it was a blog post; I can't actually remember) about the poem entitled Crabbit Old Woman which was apparently read on 'Women's Hour' not too long ago.

This poem also resonates with me and it expresses my feelings about why the church can't simply ignore older people or consider them to be of finite worth. I hope that as Christians we will always try to find the 'me' in everyone (see last line of the poem).

What do you see, what do you see?
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 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 loosing a stocking or shoe.
Who, unresisting or not; lets you do as you will
With bathing and feeding the long day is fill.
Is that what you're thinking, Is that what you see?
Then open your eyes, nurse, you're looking at me.
I'll tell you who I am as I sit here so still!
As I rise at your bidding, as I eat at your will.
I'm a small child of 10 with a father and mother,
Brothers and sisters, who loved one another-
A young girl of 16 with wings on her feet,
Dreaming that soon now a lover she'll meet,
A bride soon at 20- my heart gives a leap,
Remembering the vows that I promised to keep.
At 25 now I have young of my own
Who need me to build a secure happy home;
A woman of 30, my young now grow fast,
Bound to each other with ties that should last;
At 40, my young sons have grown and are gone,
But my man's beside me to see I don't mourn;
At 50 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 an old woman now and nature is cruel-
Tis her jest to make old age look like a fool.
The body is crumbled, 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 joy, 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, nurse, open and see,
Not a crabbit old woman, look closer- See Me.


Sally said...

Thank you for posting this Pam- it speaks volumes to me...

Rev Tony B said...

I long ago realised that old folk not only used to be young folk, but are the young folk who survived world wars and glogal depression, and together achieved the world which we inherited. One day I was talking to the husband of a lady I was to bury, and he told me he'd been a mathematician, and when war broke out he'd volunteered and been sent to a place "you weren't have heard of it" - Bletchley Park. I said "Enigma?" and his face lit up. He was thrilled that someone knew what he'd done (this was before the movie, and very few people had heard of the code-breakers) and I was thrilled to be talking to one of the folk who really did win the war.

Most old folk have been there, done that, and got a drawer full of T-shirts. And great stories to tell!

Rev Tony B said...

PS - I can spell global. And I wasn't trying to type ventriloqually (is that a word?). Pity Blogger doesn't let you correct your typos...
(wanders off muttering ...)

Paul Martin said...

When living on the Isle of Man, one of my roles was an involvement with a ward for people with dementia problems at the nearby cottage hospital. I'll never forget how for one man who was way down the line so to speak, the nurses arranged a display of a significant event in his life alongside his birthday party to which his family and a few others such as me were invited. It turned out that this now very confused man had been instrumental in saving the lives of over 30 people on boat which went down of the island back in the 1940s. So many of our older folk have great stories behind them. They sure merit our respect.

PamBG said...

Thanks for that story, Paul.

Tony, your post reminded me that my father's cousin (who would have been born about 1920) was one of the first people working with computers in the Pentagon during WWII.

He was 'running numbers'(there was no legal betting in the States back then) in Pittsburgh; a bit of an Italian-American 'hood'. I'm not sure how he ended up in the Pentagon, but it was due to his innate talent with numbers.

I remember him telling us that the first computers he used had vacuum transistors.

eclexia said...

I deeply appreciate posts such as this one, which show honor, respect and value to the elderly and their stories.

Anonymous said...

Hello i have had to read this for drama, I find this a poem which i can relate to because it really corroberates with the story of my grand father, he was a at a stage were he did not even remember his own sons name. At my grandmothers birthday party though, he only remembered my granmas name and mine. The next day he died, it was very sad to think how he had remembered me, and when i said goodbye to him he was being fed and put to bed by a nurse, i looked in his eyes and knew everything he had done, and how he hated being treated like a child. It really upsets me to know that when he closed his eyes as I was there, it was the last time he would close his eyes.

PamBG said...

Anonymous, thank you very much for sharing your story and I'm glad to hear that you got so much out of the poem.