A Cranky Old Man

born 2 B mildWhen an old man died in a nursing home, nurses found this poem. Its quality and content so impressed them, it was spread throughout the nursing home and afar. The old man’s sole bequest to posterity has since appeared in the Christmas editions of magazines around the country and appearing in magazines for Mental Health. A slide presentation has also been made based on his poem. And this old man, with nothing left to give to the world, is now the author of this ‘anonymous’ poem winging across the Internet.

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Cranky Old Man

What do you see nurses?

What do you see?

What are you thinking…

When you are 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 tings that you do.

And forever is losing…

A sock or a shoe?

 

Who, resting or not…

Let’s you do as you will,

While 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 all your bidding,

As I eat 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 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 will 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 to 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 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!

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Remember this poem when you meet an older person who you might brush aside without looking at the soul within. Remember, we will all, one day, be there, too!

The Old, Ugly Fisherman

Photo Credit: EoinGardiner via Flickr
Photo Credit: EoinGardiner via Flickr

I think that it is really a sad thing how often people falsely judge others based purely on their looks without first knowing what their heart and soul are REALLY like.  I Read the following story on atimetolaugh.org that gives us a great example of what it is like when we treat the unfortunately with dignity, respect and love.

Our house was directly across the street from the clinic Entrance Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. We lived downstairs and rented the upstairs rooms to out patients at the clinic. One summer evening as I was fixing supper, there was a knock at the door. I opened it to see a truly awful looking man.

“Why, he’s hardly taller than my eight-year-old,” I thought as I stared at the stooped, shriveled body. But the appalling thing was his face–lopsided from swelling, red and raw. Yet his voice was pleasant as he said, “Good evening. I’ve come to see if you’ve a room for just one night. I came for a treatment this morning from the eastern shore, and there’s no bus ’til morning.”

He told me he’d been hunting for a room since noon but with no
success, no one seemed to have a room. “I guess it’s my face…I know it looks terrible, but my doctor says with a few more treatments…”

For a moment I hesitated, but his next words convinced me: “I could sleep in this rocking chair on the porch. My bus leaves early in the morning.” I told him we would find him a bed, but to rest on the porch.

I went inside and finished getting supper. When we were ready, I asked the old man if he would join us “No thank you. I have plenty.” And he held up a brown paper bag. When I had finished the dishes, I went out on the porch to talk with him a few minutes.

It didn’t take a long time to see that this old man had an oversized heart crowded into that tiny body. He told me he fished for a living to support his daughter, her five children, and her husband, who was hopelessly crippled from a back injury.

He didn’t tell it by way of complaint; in fact, every other sentence was prefaced with a thanks to God for a blessing. He was grateful that no pain accompanied his disease, which was apparently a form of skin cancer. He thanked God for giving him the strength to keep going.

At bedtime, we put a camp cot in the children’s room for him.   When I got up in the morning, the bed linens were neatly folded and the little man was out on the porch. He refused breakfast, but just before he left for his bus, haltingly, as if asking a great favor, he said, “Could I please come back and stay the next time I have a treatment? I won’t put you out a bit. I can sleep fine in a chair.”

He paused a moment and then added, “Your children made me feel at home. Grownups are bothered by my face, but children don’t
seem to mind.” I told him he was welcome to come again.

On his next trip he arrived a little after seven in the morning. As a gift, he brought a big fish and a quart of the largest oysters I had ever seen. He said he had shucked them that morning before he left so that they’d be nice and fresh. I knew his bus left at 4:00 a.m. and I wondered what time he had to get up in order to do this for us.

In the years he came to stay overnight with us there was never a time that he did not bring us fish or oysters or vegetables from his garden. Other times we received packages in the mail, always by special delivery; fish and oysters packed in a box of fresh young
spinach or kale, every leaf carefully washed.

Knowing that he must walk three miles to mail these, and knowing how little money he had made the gifts doubly precious. When I received these little remembrances, I often thought of a comment our next-door neighbor made after he left that first morning. “Did you keep that awful looking man last night? I turned him away! You can lose roomers by putting up such people!”

Maybe we did lose roomers once or twice. But oh! If only they could have known him, perhaps their illnesses would have been easier to bear. I know our family always will be grateful to have known him; from him we learned what it was to accept the bad without complaint and the good with gratitude to God.

Recently I was visiting a friend who has a greenhouse. As she showed me her flowers, we came to the most beautiful one of all, a golden chrysanthemum, bursting with blooms. But to my great surprise, it was growing in an old dented, rusty bucket. I thought to myself, “If this were my plant, I’d put it in the loveliest container I had!” My friend changed my mind.

“I ran short of pots,” she explained, “and knowing how beautiful this one would be, I thought it wouldn’t mind starting out in this old pail. It’s just for a little while, till I can put it out in the garden.”

She must have wondered why I laughed so delightedly, but I was imagining just such a scene in heaven. “Here’s an especially beautiful one,” God might have said when he came to the soul of the sweet old fisherman.  “He won’t mind starting in this small body.”

123 Year Old Herder May Be Oldest Man Alive

Photo Credit: nbcnews.com
Photo Credit: nbcnews.com

I came across an article the other day written by Caroline Lee on UPI.com that told the story of a herder from Bolivia who has been revealed as the oldest living person ever recorded.

The article stated that Bolivian herder Carmelo Flores Laura turned 123 last month, according to the country’s civil registry.

The man was born in 1890, and, if the record is accurate, is now the oldest living person ever recorded.

Flores lives in Frasquicia, a mountain village 50 miles outside La Paz. He does not wear glasses and walks without a cane.

Flores has three children, 16 grandchildren and 39 great-grandchildren. Flores’ wife died 10 years ago.

He was 24 when World War I broke out, and 62 when Queen Elizabeth took the throne. He was 16 when Butch Cassidy fled to Bolivia, and 79 when “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” was released.

He has lived through six of 17 Bolivian constitutions and 53 presidents, plus several juntas in between.

Flores credits his long life to taking long walks and never eating pasta or sugar. Instead, he eats cananhua, a wild species of quinoa.

“I’ve never been lazy. I always shared the cooking with my wife. We would only eat what we could find growing wild. We ate mostly skunk meat,” Flores said.

Flores beats out the current oldest living person, Japanese 115-year-old Misao Okawa. He takes the record from Frenchwoman Jeanne Calment, who died in 1997 at age 122. To get the official title, Flores’ documents must be confirmed by the Guinness Book of World Records.

It made me think…what would you do if you lived to 123 years old? What would your thoughts be? What advice would you give other people? Makes you think doesn’t it?

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