What do you see nurse, what do you see?
Are you thinking when you look at me,
A crabby 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 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 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, I sit here so still,
As I do all 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 build a secure happy home,
A young woman of thirty my young now grow fast,
Bound to each other with ties that should last.
At forty my young ones now grown will be gone,
But my man stays 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 children are all busy 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 her jest to make her old age look like an old fool,
The body it crumbles, grace and vigour depart,
There now is 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 nurses, open and see,
Not a crabby old woman, look closer, see me.
What do we see you ask, what do we see?
Yes we are thinking when looking at thee,
We may seem to be hard when we hurry and fuss,
But there’re many of you and too few of us.
We would like far more time to sit by you and talk,
To bath you and feed you and help you to walk,
To hear of your lives and the things you have done,
Your children, your husband, your daughter, your son.
But time is against us there’s too much to do,
Patients too many and nurses too few,
We grief 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 now,
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 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 joys 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 car,
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.