Touching poem by an older man.


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 . . . 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!!

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I think Moonchild's post was thoughtful, introspective, but also sad as so much of the focus was on what could no longer be done and how the body deteriorates as it ages.

I'd rather see the situation as a glass half full....I might be 71 but I can still shovel snow and plant gardens, even if it takes me longer. I can remember making contributions to business and retail in some of my jobs. I also know that taking care of my family when they were ill is a major contribution to my life's work.

However, had I had a profession of slinking down a runway in outrageously priced designer clothes, to be worn only b/c I'd literally starved myself to stay underweight, I don't think I would have looked back and found my life to have been as worthwhile as it has in the business area.

I've always thought that some native cultures have a better approach to aging than our so-called post-industrialist societies, especially when women are still seen as beauty or sex objects rather than people. And men are increasingly being viewed in the same manner.

Native cultures revere and respect olders, in part for their wisdom. That's something that America has seemed to lack for decades if not centuries.

Think of some of the older people who've contributed so much to life...would someone be appropriate or astute fin observing that Henry Kissinger has wrinkles? Or Golda Meir or Indira Gandhi don't have firm bodies? Or Mohatma Gandhi was a wizened old man? Or that Geronimo also had facial wrinkles?

Is how we look when we age the sum total of our existence?

I'd rather look back and think of what I accomplished, who I helped, how life has hopefully made me a better person than worrying about whether I'm sagging and wrinkling.

No offense to Moonchild - I know that visual appearance is something we all deal with, and sometimes have to overcome.

Eddie, I like moonchild's response to the poem on the first page. It was a keeper that most of us can relate to as we get older. I re-read the poem and responses this morning. It was a good way to start the day.

Made me reexamine my own life. The similarities are too many. Thanks Jessie.

I Love this Poem no matter who the Author is. I have been a CNA for 24 years and I've to often since the disappointment and fears of the elderly who die with only the staff to care. It is a very sad world and I have promised I would never see any family member placed in a rest home as long as I am able to care for them!!!! If you have family in a facility PLEASE don't forget they are there they have LOVED you your entire life!!!

Invisible? No I am in plain sight. I try and pull out a shopping cart and someone does it for me. i pull into a disabled parking spot and the man collecting th carts offers to go and get me an electric cart. I walk into the dollar store and look at the cart rack and an old man offers me his before he departs. "Here have this one it's all warmed up" I reach towards a high shelf and a gentleman rushes over and tells me not to climb on the shelf he will get it for me. The girl at checkout this afternoon asked if she was making the bags too heavy. In another store they carried my purchases out to the car. My husband finally opens the car door for me and actually unloads the shopping without grumbling. No getting old is not all bad! I just wish I didn't need all that help.

I understand this poem especially now that I've grown older and invisible to people around me. It is the way life works.

I'm going to print this out and carry it with me, reading it before I take my father anyplace, when we're in the ER, when I'm so tired my feet ache, and when I come home exhausted and just want to collapse.

This is a touching old poem with many myths about it's origins. I remember my grandmother reading it to her seniors group back in the 80's. Wikipedia gives credit to Phyllis McCormack, who penned the lines in 1966 while working as a nurse.

Seen this picture and poem on newsfeed. would like to know who the gentleman was in picture and where it was taken at and when. Thank you Sure is a gret asemblance to someone very dear to me.

That is beautiful! Still crying.........

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