A Poem for Nurses from an Old Man

One of my greatest fears in life is growing old. It’s not just about the wrinkles, the fragile body and the vulnerability that I’m anxious about; it’s the act of growing old – alone.

poem from a cranky old man

During the course of my life as a student nurse, it’s not unusual for me (and for those who can relate) to see fragile elders being taken cared of by their family – and seeing the people around them painstakingly doing it. On some occasions, some elderly people are even left alone by their families in hospitals or nursing homes to be cared for.

I came across this beautiful poem and it hit me twice. First, in the eyes of a nurse, it conveyed to me a special message that our profession mattered to people of old-age. Second, the poem mirrored to me my own fear of getting old and being a “burden.” Forgive me to have used the word – but it’s a bare reality that our society often sees old people as such. I’m just thankful though, that my parents taught me to value and love my grandparents as they are our link to the past and without them, we wouldn’t be existing at all.

Lines Telling A Story

In an Australian geriatric ward, an old man died humbly, leaving no material possession of any great value. As nurses were collecting the belongings he has left, they’ve found an interesting piece of literature – a very inspiring poem. The nurses were so much inspired that they reproduced copies to every staff in the hospital. Later on, the poem sparked more hearts and it became so popular it got featured in magazines. The poem also became viral on the Internet. This lowly man, who died with nothing but a fruitful soul, left the world with a beautiful poem under an Anonymous author.

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!!

Source: http://everythinginbudget.blogspot.com/2012/06/old-man-dies-and-leaves-world-with.html#ixzz1z7iCd6Qs

Reflecting Through

When I do see my Lola, I pity her condition. She can’t see, hear, nor walk. She writhes in pain in the slightest movement. You need to be patient enough to follow all her orders as she couldn’t even perform her activities of daily living without assistance. She is physically weak, but what a strong woman she is.

Everytime we have a little chit-chat it always extends to hours of story-telling about her past, the changes that happened in time and all the things she learned about life. Every wrinkle on her face seems to tell a story. Though with a frail body, she has a very intact mind and memory. She can still recite her self-made fifth grade poem entitled “My Mother” and she can remember all the names and birthdays of her numerous grandchildren and great grandchildren.

I wish my Lola would still live longer so that I can listen more to her stories. Indeed, what I see is an old woman, but inside her is a precious creation of God full of experiences and old-age wisdom.

I still fear the day that I grow physically old, but I’m also a bit excited of what kind of wisdom shall I impart to my grandchildren.

The next time you see an old man/woman, stop, smile and appreciate them. We should love them, as we are all going to grow old too.

Note: According to the source, the story is fabricated and the original author of the poem is a different person. See source link for more details. As for me, I do give credit to the author (whoever he/she is). The poem is really very inspiring.

Photo courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mysticwisdom/2905883594/

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  1. Pingback: Cranky old man … | Bear Tales

  2. My uncle was like a father and best friend to me. It’s hard when you lose a loved one so suddenly; it hurt. He had cancer and when we found out, it was too late; it felt like a knife going thru my heart. My sister found a poem that suits him so well. In Loving Memory of Danny Ray “Abbitt” Martin You will be missed by all Morning Glory This morning I opened my eyes Like a flower blooming the first time Taking in the Heavenly light From God’s son shining so bright Life in a King’s garden in full bloom Always standing with no gloom The Gardener watches with care For his flowers he loves so dear In Heaven he attends to us all And my petals never fade nor fall So when down remember this story And you’ll see me in a morning glory Author Unknown Submitted by Reeka Reed — Kentucky This poem suited him so well because Morning Glories were his favorite flowers.

  3. I’m so sorry to hear that Piracetam. Just do remember that your uncle, wherever he is, he’s in a happy place. The poem you’ve shared is lovely, but it has a way of piercing through one’s heart.

  4. Time to Go Together they’d gaily walked life’s path humming their shared familiar tune laughing,loving,living it was gone too soon.

  5. Thanks for finally writing about >A Poem for Nurses from an Old Man Chopstick Lady <Loved it!

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  7. Precisely how much time did it take u to write “A Poem for Nurses from an
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