Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Crabby Old Man.....

When an old man died in the geriatric ward of a nursing home in North Platte,
Nebraska, 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 Missouri.

The old man's sole bequest to posterity has since appeared in the Christmas edition
of the News Magazine of the St. Louis Association for Mental Health. A slide
presentation has also been made based on his simple, but eloquent, poem.

And this little old man, with nothing left to give to the world, is now the author of
this 'anonymous' poem winging across the Internet.

Crabby Old Man

What do you see nurses? . . . .. . What do you see?
What are you thinking . . . . . when you're looking at me?
A crabby 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's 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 . . . . . 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.
Tis 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 guy 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 crabby old man . . . Look closer .. . . see ME!!


Sue said...

Marilyn, thank you so much for sharing this. I read this with tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat.

I recently returned from the west coast after visiting my 87 yr old dad, who over the last year has become very frail. Yesterday my sister and I were witness to his move to a new (and probably his last)
home - a nursing home.

Yes, growing old is cruel. To see a very proud and easy going
man having to wear diapers and oftimes responding to something in a grumpy manner is hard for me, and I know it is doubly hard for my Dad. His mind is still pretty sharp and he told me when I was visiting that "this getting old is the pits"



Robin's Egg Bleu said...

Wow. My parents died young, dad at 38 and mom at 55, so I never encountered the burden of watching them age and become helpless.

I did however, work in a nursing home for a time, and it was the most difficult job I ever had. I couldn't get the residents to converse with me, or answer questions about their lives. So resistant to that. But I did take the time to look through their photo albums and try to imagine them in the prime of their lives.

What an amazing poem, and I'm still crying.

The Wool Shop said...

that makes me feel humble. we are all on the same path. Niall

Pat McIntosh said...

Thank you Marilyn for sharing. This made me think of my Dad, trapped in a body that couldn't keep up with his mind, and of what thoughts were behind his tired eyes.

AmyWatlTom said...

Wow. That is horendously sad. Gosh. Thanks for putting it in your blog, I realy randomly came across your blog and there we are, I found this poem too. I have emailed it around too xx

Carol Phelps said...

Many thanks for putting this on your blog. It makes you really appreciate older folks.

Anonymous said...

Marilyn, how wonderful for you to have posted this poem. I am from NP, NE and I am puzzled as to how this poem is attributed to someone anonymous when the nurses who happened upon it know who's room they were cleaning out and going through. Can you help me understand this? The sadest part of all of this to me is for the man who wrote it be considered anonymous...so to speak. I believe his name should be with the poem so he can be remembered as the author of such a well written and thought out piece of work.

visionquest2020 AT msn DOT com

Laoxinat said...

Thanks so much for this, Marilyn. I work as a caregiver-trainer and this is a message I try hard to express to my students - that each person, cognizant or not has a story, a life and great value. I will be passing this on!

Wairimu said...

The Truth:
The story about the old man (in some versions described as 100 years old) is a fabrication.

The poem, titled Too Soon Old, was written by Dave Griffith of Fort Worth, Texas. Griffith told TruthOrFiction.com that he wrote the poem more than 20 years ago and that he meant for it to be simple, and too the point, from youth through old age in his own personal life, high school football, Marines, marriage, the ravages of his own disabilities.

Someone took the poem from his site, created a false story about it, and started it circulating on the Internet.

Wairimu said...

thanks dear, i really enjoyed your blog, i have enjoyed seeing Kenya through different eyes.

i too was touched by the poem till i googled to see who the author was, n found out the truth.

Joe said...

Thank you so much for sharing this poem, it really put me in this man's place. I'm a nurse and though I actively try not to sometimes I forget what it must be like to be the patient. Very humbling, thank you again.