Old Man

When an old man died in the geriatric ward of a nursing home in GRASS VALLEY , CA. 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 Missouri ..  

The old man’s sole bequest to posterity has since appeared in the Christmas edition of the News Magazine of the St. Louis Association for Mental Health. A slide presentation has also been made based on his simple, but eloquent, poem.

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

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!

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, one day, be there too if we live long enough!


11 thoughts on “Old Man

  1. Yes, as I’ve ministered in the assisted living
    facilities, sharing God’s word with residents.
    One can see the truth in this poem.
    If one only takes the time to visit, listen, and look.

    There’s lives that have been lived, memories abound.
    Waiting to come forth, should anyone ask.
    Experiences to savor, achievements so dear,
    waiting to be shared with anyone who comes near.

    So take the time to visit, and sit at their knee.
    For someday it’ll be you, remembering history.
    And wishing to share.


    1. Exactly Brother. Time is too short. They and we will be gone in no time. it will be too late then.

    2. Paraclete!!!….your few words of council here are landing the ball in the right court….Thumbs up to you for choosing (your ministry) as a worthy part of one’s life….Life does not long exist without love…yet that word is so seldom mentioned in the millions, millions, millions. of daily words spoken all over our planet each day, especially with today’s technology, a word and a mouse click.away!…Love, is all Christ had to give…In that All, was, every thing, within one capsule…..The complete guide to living of which not one of us choose to be here! A higher power is doing this….Am personally not preaching…am not a standard christian,..there was no christian church when that man lived……i can not find in written human history, any more ideas that make more sense than the words he is credited with saying…..
      The essence of this poem is……Love…
      The very basis for all of us to flower…even until the age of 100 or beyond….and especially at the age of 0-99….takes a dose of that every day to make it to 100….
      A world of people doing that could never experience a war…even a killing………and I won’t go on!….Things are too obvious….tks for the comment

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