There’s an email circulating called “Crabby Old Man…take the Time” about a senior citizen who lives in a nursing who wrote a touching poem. It’s quite a tender poem about who he is and what his life was about. But after I read it, I kept hoping the poem would have ended differently. So first, here’s the poem. Then read on about hear how I would have ended it.
Crabby Old Man . . . . . THE RIPPER

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 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'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 . . . . . 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.
‘Tis 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!!

              *               *                *
The email goes on to say:

Remember this poem when you next meet an older person who you might brush aside without looking at the young soul within.

We will all be there one day too!

             *                *               *

You know what I wish? I wish that at the end of this moving tribute to life, the crabby old man decided to look at the people who were caring for him. I wish that he took a moment to thank all of those caregivers – nurses, aides, family – acknowledging that they were doing what they could to help him keep his dignity and enabling him to remember the joys of his life.

The crabby old man inside me says to all those who when I need it may have to bathe me, help me get to the toilet, and clean up after me, and who will still respect me as a person: “Thank you. My poem is for you.”




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