Touching poem by an older man.

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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 meagre 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 appearing in mags 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 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.
It's 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 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!!

19 Comments

That is very sweet. Thank you for sharing your find , JessieBelle.
This poem reminds me that how we see old people when we're younger is how we'll feel about ourselves when we get there. I think this is why growing older is so hard on people in the US, where age is considered an enemy.
Jessie~This is beautiful!! I am going to copy it and paste on facebook, thank you so much!!
The first time I read that poem I cried, it still touches me. I had this up on my FB wall before but I think it's time to put it up again. It's difficult for my children to see the young person inside of me now and I have to remind them by playing with them, I hope they won't forget when I am really old.

You know, I am not scared at all of dying, I know where I'm going. I am frightened to death of growing old. (yes, pun intended, LOL!) I didn't use to be. I was cool with it, I even embraced it, I pretty much sailed through perimenopause on various supplements. I was excited about the next half of my life, I knew I would be backpacking until my eighties at least! But when I went post menopausal things went all to hell. My hips began aching again, my shoulders, my neck, my knees, even my hands were stiff and sore. My vision, OMG! I had been wearing bifocals since I was 39, but they were getting blurrier and blurrier. The doctor said, try those reading glasses in the store; not even the strongest one worked. My skin began to age faster, I had a couple real wrinkles under my eyes and a ton of lines, I had an old lady neck, more of my hair fell out, I had age spots on my hands, my beautiful body began sagging all over the place and I would wake up in the morning, stumble into the bathroom blearily, then when I finally stood before the mirror over the sink I was in shock, WHO THE HELL WAS THAT OLD LADY?!! Dang she was ugly! Oh and it gets worse, I make funny noises when I get up from the floor after I stretch. I find myself making a lot of old person noises, I can't describe them but I bet you know what I'm talking about.

It's not fair, I look inside myself and I am still a young girl. I still want to go out dancing, I still want to flirt with the boys. I want to strap on my backpack and run up hills with the Boy Scouts like I used to. I see rock and I want to climb! I want to chase my babies around. Or not. I want to chase someone else's babies around so I can hand them back when I'm tired, ROFL!

I think the reward for living a good life being a beautiful person should be a beautiful face and a strong healthy body and mind. I am soooo going to take this up with God when I get upstairs!!! I need to start a list, I have so many things I have to pick a bone about with the good Lord. I will ask my daughter to tuck it into my pocket after I die so I don't forget any. I'm also telling God that bearing children should make our bodies more beautiful instead of fat and saggy, and that breastfeeding should make our breasts perky and full when we are finished, and that children should never be allowed to have more energy than we do. :D
Thanks JessieBelle for sharing such a thought provoking poem. It's going on the fridge today.
I can face the fact that I'm getting old, everything wears out, why not me? We all have to realize that we have an expiration date. The only thing that's hard to picture is me with dementia. I still feel young inside. I just don't want to actually revert back to being like a child in my mind. Oh well, today I don't have it so I will write that on my gratitude list, just like I do everyday.
The line that touched me most is "It's jest to make old age look like a fool." It really doesn't, but things are set up to make people feel that way. I wish I could change the way the world feels, but know I can't. I can change the things I do, though.

On our way to church -- It is a good day for my mother when she wants to go.
Thanks for sharing this, Jessie. It is a touching poem.

Just to give credit where it is due, it was apparently not written in the manner described in the story that has been circulated on websites and via emails for years now. Instead it was written by by Dave Griffith, a Disabled Marine of Fort Worth, Texas. He titled it Too Soon Old, and it is on his website, along with 500 other poems he has written. I found this information on a website called the Utah Veteran.
Thanks, Jeanne. A friend of mine posted it on Facebook and it made me think. I can get so frustrated at times that I forget to stop and look at the person. I'll have to read about Dave Griffith to see how it fits his life. I have to admit I like the story of the old man in Australia with the secret poem.
Looking more, I found that Dave Griffith borrowed the poem himself and changed the gender. I found a slightly older version (I guess) of the poem without the dots and being written by an old woman. It looks like the original author is the famous Anonymous.
That is beautiful! Still crying.........

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