Monday, 29 January 2007

What do you see as a Volunteer ?

This is a very beautiful poem used in a public awareness campaign for the elderly in UK. It was written by an elderly woman before she died in a geriatric ward of a Scottish hospital. A nurse found the poem while going through the woman’s possession after her death.

"What do you see?
Are you thinking when you’re looking 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 losing a stocking or shoe,
Who quite unresisting, lets you do as you will.
When bathing and feeding, the long day to fill,
Is that what you’re thinking, is that what you see?
Then open your eyes, you’re not looking at me;
I’ll tell you who I am as I sit here so still,
As I move 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 a true 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 woman at thirty, my young now grow fast,
Bound to each other with ties that should last,
At forty, my young sons will soon all be gone,
But my man stays besides 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 busy with young of their own,
And I think of all 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 it crumbles, grace and vigour 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,
I’m loving and living life over again;
I think of the years all too free, gone too fast,
And accept the stark fact that nothing can last;
So open your eyes, open and see,
Not a crabbit old woman, look closer – see me."

Now I know why when I tried talking to an old lady in an Old Folks Home and she was just not responding most of the times. Her eyes half opened and always staring at her chests. She was in poor health and her children paid a RM300.00 monthly fee to put her up in one corner of the home.

At one point, she even gestured with her hand to tell me to leave her alone after feeding her with water.

Two weeks later, the Person In-charged of the Old Folks Home informed me that she had passed away silently in the middle of one night!

From the Poem above, we can put two and two together and come to a conclusion that how much these lovely Old Ladies were looking forward to be able to stay home and spent the rest of their lives with their loved ones. They know that they will die one day, but not a lonely death …

There are avenues young people can explore before deciding to send their old folks to homes. There are Organisations that provide services which can help a great deal when come to dealing with sick people, such as:

- Malaysia Humanitarian Foundation
- Hospis Malaysia
- Malaysia Oncology Society
- Tzu Chi Malaysia
and a host of others…

These helpful organisations are complete with professionals such as doctors, palliative care nurses, clinical psychologists, medical equipment, medications and volunteers that come in to visit the patients so that to help lessen the burden of caring for the sick, they can even provide emotional support to the family members in time of needs.

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