There is a poem floating –- more correctly –- flying around the internet these days. It was first shared between caregivers in nursing homes and geriatric wards.
But now its readership is growing among those of the “sandwich generation”, people in middle age caring for both their children and their aging parents.
It was found following the death of an elderly man in North Platte, Nebraska. He had died penniless and alone, a ward of the state with no relatives or close friends anyone could find.
He owned nothing of value, but in disposing of his few belongings, a nurse found a hand-written piece of paper. She was so overwhelmed by what she read, she copied it for everyone else on the ward. From there it spread.
And now it’s available to you to share…
“The Crabby Old Man”
What do you see nurses? What do you see?
What are you thinking when you're looking at me?
A crabby 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, you're not looking at me.
I'll tell you who I am . As I sit here so still,
As I do all 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's 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 and 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 I once had a heart.
But inside this old carcass a young guy 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 crabby old man. Look closer, see ME!!