A Must Read

Follow my blog with BloglovinIf you are regular reader of my blog you already know my 89 year old father lives with us.  This so lovely and poignant poem really touched my heart.  I had to share it with you but get your box of  tissues ready as this is a tear jerker.

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 appearing 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 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 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!!
Remember this poem when you next meet an older person who you might brush aside without looking at the young soul within. We will all, one day, be there, too!
You may also like This sweet Letter I posted to an elderly parent.
Thanks for visiting!

22 thoughts on “A Must Read”

  1. Wow, you do need a tissue or two after reading this. Yes, we all do grow old. I have a grandfather who is now 93 and I am so glad that I am close to him and talk with him on a regular basis. Some people get tied up in their own lives and forget about the elderly! I actually love being around the elder, I learn so much from them. I guess I can also say that I am also blessed that I still have my grandfather and he is able to converse with me with a sharp mind.

    Thanks for sharing this, Sherry.

  2. Oh Sherry, I have seen this before but it still makes me cry. It so reminds me of my Father-in-law who passed away from Altzheimers several years ago. He was a FABULOUS man, was a pilot in the war, then a commercial pilot all his life. He also was THE LIFE OF THE PARTY. To see that wonderful spirit slip away was the hardest thing I have ever seen. I hope you don't mind, I would like to post this on Facebook. Is that OK? Thanks again and give that Father of yours an extra hug from me. I think HUMAN CONTACT is one of the things seniors miss the most.

  3. Sherry, I've read this and I cry every time. I took care of my aging parents, though not in a nursing home. I was an activity director at a nursing home and so this poem is especially dear to me. I pray for you as you care for you dad. I wouldn't take anything for the time I had with my parents the last 5 years but it was one of the most taxing times both emotionally and physically I had ever known before. Don't forget to care for yourself too.

  4. Oh I just can't read it then, I cry enough over the elderly people. I visit a 99 year old man twice a week for his children, who lives in Europe.
    My husband was in an Alzheimer unit for 3 years before he died and it was so sad to see all those people. I cried and prayed for them often.
    Maybe I will read it later


  5. How simply beautiful!!! As I enter the 'winter' season of my life and with a 78 year old husband already there – I ponder aging and how to do it gracefully….

  6. This poem made me think of my grandfather in law who passed at age 94. One day I I was passsing the nursing home and for once did not have a grandchild with me so I stopped to see him, I talked about all the family and how they were doing and everything else I could think of. He never said a word or acknowledged me until I was leaving. I kissed him on the head and said good bye, he caught my hand and said 'It sure is good to have your company"Now I know what he was thinking as he sat unmoving and staring. Thank you

  7. Sherry,
    I thought that was so poignant!
    My mom was in a facility for the last 8 years of her life. I always walked in there with a smile to all the patients thinking to myself that these were people who lived, loved, labored, reared children,etc. They all have stories! They deserve our respect and should be cared for with dignity. As you said we will be there someday. I only hope if I have to be in a facility that someone passes me by with a smile. Great read! Brought tears to my eyes. God bless your dear dad and all of you.

  8. Sometimes it is a challenge to it knowledge what we see rather than what we remember which makes it all the more important to show kindness.

  9. Happy New year Sherry! Thank you for sharing this wonderful poem. My mother is taking care of my own grandmother too and more often than not, we do forget the woman she once was, I will remember this poem everytime I meet any of our very senior family, friends or stranger.

  10. This poem is bittersweet to me because my MIL is in that state right now. She is bedridden from a stroke and wasting away to nothing. She has to be watched after 24/7. She has a horn to call someone to her side when she needs them and can't do anything for herself. She has been like that for years too! It's a long sad way to die. She lingers every day like that. She is now a widow (her husband passed a couple of months ago). She is sad. Life can be so unfair to good people sometimes. I look at her and think (please don't let me go like that) and (please, Lord, go ahead and take her). She has no quality of life. She takes lots of meds to keep her comfortable, and receives hospice care at home. She reminds me everyday not to take life for granted.

  11. Oh my gosh, I have not seen this poem before, it is the most heart wrenching poem that I have ever read. I tried to read it aloud to my husband through great sobs. I feel so much for those last years this man must have spent in care. My mothers companion of many years spent his last two months of life in care and I remember the nurse trying to put a plastic babies bib on him as he was trying to eat his dinner. He was so humiliated by it and it upset me to see him like this. His mind was as sharp as a tack but he was dying from cancer.

    Thank you for sharing this, I do hope that the spread of this poem will reach the right people that can make a difference to elderly people in care.

    I have just volunteered to work in a hospice shop one day a week, it now makes me think I may see if I can volunteer a little time at one of the elderly care homes to spend a little time with people talking to them. It is heartbreaking to know that there are people with absolutely no visitors and that there is little respect for their dignity.

    I am still crying, it is just the most touching story.

    Thank you for sharing, I want to put this on my personal Facebook page.


Leave a Comment