From Facebook: When an old man died in the geriatric ward of a nursing home in an Australian country town, it was believed he had nothing left of any value. Later, the nurses went through his meager possessions and found this poem. It so impressed the staff that copies were made and distributed to every nurse in the hospital. One nurse took it to Melbourne. It later appeared in magazines across the continent and now wings its way around the world over 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 a 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, a secure happy home.
A young man of Thirty, my kids now grown fast,
Bound to each other with ties that should last.
At Forty, my young sons have grown and are gone,
My wife still 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 ones of their own,
And I think of the years and the love that I’ve known.
And now I’m an old man and nature is cruel,
Its jest is to make old age look like a fool.
The body, it crumbles, grace and vigor depart,
There is now just a stone where I once had a heart.
But inside this old carcass a young man still dwells,
And now and again my old 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!!
I’m reminded of Psalm 103 (selected verses):
Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;
for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.
As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field;
the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.
But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD’s love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children’s children—
with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.
The LORD has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all.
Praise the LORD, O my soul!
Remember this poem and this Psalm when you next meet an older person whom you might brush aside without looking at the young soul within. By God’s grace we will all one day be there, too!