Cranky Old Man - A Poem By Dave Griffith

by John Armstrong
(Tyler, Texas)

Wendy, Your web page on Aging reminded me of the following.

I came across the following poem written by an old Australian man who was living in a nursing home. When an old man died in the geriatric ward of that facility located in a small Australian country town, it was believed that he had nothing left of any value.

Later, when the nurses were going through his meager possessions, They found this poem. Its quality and content so impressed the staff that copies were made and distributed to every nurse in the hospital.

One nurse took her copy to Melbourne. The old man's sole bequest to posterity has since appeared in the Christmas editions of magazines around the country and appearing in mags for Mental Health.

And this old man, with nothing left to give to the world, is now the author of this 'anonymous' poem winging across the Internet.

I think in our society, we overlook many things the elderly have going through their minds. Their spirit is still young, but the body is old and has many miles on it. Many times I see the youth wanting to jump out of their bodies to no avail. Instead I see the elderly wanting to still stay active, contribute to the world and be back in their cars driving around country side, reliving the those younger years and pining for lost ones.

We all are going to be there some day and no longer be able to do the things we once did. It's important that we keep this frame of reference in our own minds. We must live life to its fullest, love like there is no tomorrow and see the inner youth all the elderly have inside wanting to escape the ravages of time.

I have a downloadable PDF file of the Cranky Old Man Poem... please share it with friends. Aging Matters! Thank you John!

Cranky Old Man

- By Dave Griffith

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!!

Comments for Cranky Old Man - A Poem By Dave Griffith

Click here to add your own comments

Too few CNAs understand this where I work!
by: Tiffany- Life Care Center of Salt Lake City

Thank you SO much for posting this! I can’t tell you how much this poem opened my eyes years ago! And I’m desperately hoping the CNAs I work with will read this & really take it to heart when I post it EVERYWHERE IN THE BUILDING!!!

Too many think of this place as THEIR place, when it’s actually the final home for our residents, where they should be treated like family & not nagged or rushed for eating or walking too slow.

This is THEIR home, & all CNAs in every nursing home needs to remember they were young & headstrong too once. They deserve patience & respect.

Tiffany -- I made a downloadable PDF file of the Cranky Old Man Poem... please share it with friends. Aging Matters!

by: John Armstrong

After receiving notice about the latest comments on "Cranky Old Man", I went back and reread my original post since I totally forgot all about it.

What the poem says still applies today. It applies to my father in-law who is 91 years old and living in a nursing home; a man who is in the twilight of his life yet still remains young mentally.

It was 73 years ago when this man was a young vibrant fellow who was called into service during WW II. His body was cut and chiseled into the shape of a Greek God as a U.S. Marine. He experienced the ravages of war on the Pacific islands of Iwo Jima, Chichi-Jima and Okinawa; he walked away without a scratch; at least on the surface. And then he later endured seeing the results after the bombing of Nagasaki. These were experiences only a few handfuls of men still remember and who are still around in today's world. These experiences shaped him into being the good wise man he is today.

Now, on the surface, I see an old man who is very frail, can not walk, has bladder control problems and can not chew his food because his teeth are gone.

He may seem crotchety on the surface, but deep inside there's still a young man with a great sense of humor wanting to jump out and take on the world; to be back in the rail yards doing the job he loved. He longs for those times of he younger years and his wife that will never return.

I must remind myself Chuck is still a young man inside. He still has a lot to contribute to society if people would only take time to listen. There's a tremendous amount of wisdom behind those sunken eyes yet to be gleaned from younger generations.

If we don't pay attention to him and others of his generation, we are bound to make the same mistakes. Does this sound familiar?

Now I realize each of us will eventually be in the same place as Chuck and we will be asking the same question of others as we whither away in solitude: "Will you see ME"?

WENDY: Totally. Makes me ill to see how people look "past" an older person in our society. Doctors talk to me, instead of my stepdad, Chuck, when at the doctor. Explain to him, I will listen too - simply so there is no confusion later. It happens.

Good Man, John. Thank you once again...

by: Jenny

I so loved this poem, so true it is. It touched my heart in lots of ways.
God Bless the elderly.

by: Sherry

I really appreciate this poem. So many times we don't see a person any more. Just an old man or old woman waiting to die. thanks for the poem.

by: Arthur C. Ford,Sr.,poet/editor

IT SAYS A LOT!!!!!!!!!!!

arthur c. ford,sr.,poet/editor(

Click here to add your own comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Aging.