09 May 2014

CRANKY OLD MAN

The following was first published at the website PositiveMed.com in August 2012 ~


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 meager 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 appeared in magazines 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 a 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,
Its jest to make old age look like a fool.
The body, it crumbles, grace and vigor 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.

1 comment:

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