Cranky old man
Who’s got time to read every email they receive, especially when so many are junk? Emails of saccharine verse that urge you to resend to 50 of your closest friends or else risk a lifetime of misfortune, or those depicting cutesy photos of cats or goats in tutus and sunglasses? Usually I just delete them.
But sometimes I don’t, and if I’m lucky, I discover a real gem in my inbox. Take last week’s finding, an anonymously authored poem that’s apparently been winging across the Internet – and wringing readers’ hearts – for quite some time now.
The poem is called Cranky Old Man and was allegedly written by an old man who spent his last days in the geriatric ward of a nursing home. Nurses are said to have unearthed his creation when they were going through his meagre possessions after he died.
Of course, none of this may be true. Perhaps the poem was really written by a precocious and still very much alive youngster whose prank just happened to go viral. Whatever the case, there’s no disputing the simple eloquence and power of what you’re about to read. Or that the following words will cause you to regard very differently the next elderly person you happen to meet.
Enjoy (and make sure you have a tissue handy)!
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!!