The Cranky Old Man
The emotional poem you’ll find below is not new. The Sunday Post says it has actually been around for more than 40 years. But the poem has found new life a few times over, with the back story changing over the years.
The version most currently making the rounds on social media is often referred to as “The Cranky Old Man.” In it, a lonely old man in a nursing home passes away. While the nurses are cleaning the room, they happen up a poem he had written, which gives them an entirely different view of the man they’d so often dismissed as “the cranky old man.”
While the story behind the creation of the poem may be fictional, the message is no less powerful because of it.
Like many inspiring movies and books, this short story may be fictional. However, the impact that this work will have on its readers is very real. Enjoy!
What do you see nurses? What do you see?
What are you thinking, when you look 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 you 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 10, 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 25, 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 that 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 vigor depart,
There is now a stone, where once I 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!
Our elders should be respected, but the sad fact is that you can find many like the man portrayed in this fictional story. It’s easy to brush off those who seem grouchy or abrupt. But the next time you encounter someone like this, take a step back try to look a little closer. Try to see what may be behind the gruff exterior.
Is there someone in your life who could use a little extra kindness? The widow at church? The reclusive neighbor down the street? Maybe even someone in your family? Pray on it, and let God guide you to the person that needs a little extra love today.
“Do not cast me off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength is spent.” Psalm 71:9
Here’s another touching tale about a marine who held a dying man’s hand!