Sunday, 1 November 2015

The "Cranky Old Man" Poem

Silly Old Fart, What Would He Know Anyway?

Many of my elderly clients still living in their own homes share with me how they can often feel forgotten about - to thepoint of being 'invisible' in the eyes of society today.

How at the supermarket where the checkout girl, even though she does her How-are-you-today spiel, makes no eye contact and just about misses as she plonks the change randomly into the potentially arthritic hand of just another confused elderly bloke who's holding up the queue. 

And how some of the dear ladies I visit suffer feelings of low self-worth (verging on depression in some instances) after attending social events where they think they are no longer young and attractive enough to get noticed or ‘turn a man’s head’ when they walk into a room.  

Oh, they know they shouldn't base their entire emotional state on something so fickle as physical appearances, of course they do... but it still picks a hole in their confidence as a woman, regardless.

Or in the midst of a treasured family gathering... it's easy to go ignored as the conversation heats up and, unintentional as it may be, silly old Mum is dismissed yet again for having any opinion of value to contribute or one that is worth of being listened to. So she smiles and nods because she tells herself she’s so lucky at least, just to be there, surrounded by the people she loves. 

Nobody sees how the life that once defined who their mother was when she was young, has slipped further and further away...

I have always appreciated this poem - and I tear-up every time I read the dam thing!  I love how simple it is, how honest it is and how I come away with a realisation that older peeps were once battling their way through this journey called Life... with its highs and its lows; the good times and the not so good.  

Just like us.

And it’s interesting that nobody seems very sure where it came from; or whether it was written originally about a cranky old MAN or a ‘crabbity’ old WOMAN. 

Some say it was written by a wise and empathetic nurse working in a nursing home. 
Others tell how a pensioner living, and then dying in the same nursing home, wrote it to be discovered by the staff after he’d gone.

I suppose in the end it doesn't really matter who wrote this most poignant ode about how the world perceives you once you are 'old'.  Just as long as we keep reading it (or in my case, crying at it) and perhaps if we are lucky, being inspired enough to learn from it too?

The very least you can do is pop round to Grandad’s this afternoon for a hot milo and a chat about life... while he thrashes the pants off you in a few rounds of gin rummy!

But please have a read, whatever you do. 

Can't do any harm.

Look Closer   (The 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 . . . 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!!

 - Author Unknown

Young Boys become Old Men
He wasn't always an old boy...


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