Cranky Old Man

My Aunt Lynn shared this poem on Facebook. It made me shed a sentimental tear, so I thought I’d share it with you guys!

Cranky Old Man….
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!!

This poem makes me smile and it makes me sad. It makes me smile as I think of one of the oldest people I know well, my Papa. I think of how amazing my Papa is and how treasured he is by my family. It makes me sad because some ignorant people write off the elderly, even their own family, as not being worthwhile and/or intelligent. They are missing out on so many wonderful stories, smiles, and so much wisdom.

My Papa has amazing stories about growing up and I’ve loved listening to them my whole life. I have a whole book called “A Grandparents Legacy” full of fun questions about his life from birth until now. I cannot wait until I am well enough to talk on the phone more and visit him to fill it out. In the meantime, here are some of my Papa favorites…

  • Growing up, when they’d have dinner guests over his mother would instruct the kids not to eat any of the chicken so there would be plenty for the guests. Come dessert time, his mom would say, “Well, you kids didn’t eat enough dinner, so no dessert!”
  • When told “You can’t eat bacon, think of your heart!” my Papa replies, “I’ve been doing alright for the last 90 years!”
  • As a child, anything was possible at Papa’s house. We made telephones out of cups and string that went throughout the whole house. He taught me to make butter and my own paste. He drove me around in his antique cars. He played the piano on my back while I fell asleep on his lap.
  • When telemarketers call his house, he says “My kids don’t give me any of my money. Sorry.” and they never call back :).
  • When the waitress asks “Wanna box?” he says, “No, but I’ll wrestle ya!” with a straight face. Some waitresses laugh, some look at his dinner mates to see if he is being funny or is a “crazy old man”.
  • He and my grandma took the train and got married and were back in time for him to go to work. He says he doesn’t know how he got so lucky. I love how it wasn’t about spending 15 grand on the perfect wedding, it was about them.
  • When asked his secret to doing so well with aging, he replies, “You just gotta stay away from those old people, you’ll catch it.”
  • I once asked him what similarities he sees between his mother and his kids. He said his daughter is bossy like his mom was, and so are his daughter-in-laws. In fact, he doesn’t even really need a doctor because they just let him know what to do. 🙂 When I had one of my first boyfriends, Papa asked if he let me boss him around. I said yes to which he replied, “That’s good, you need someone to boss around.”

I could keep on going, and perhaps some day I will. I just know I am so lucky to have my Papa and I make sure he knows that. I feel awful there are people out there that are made to feel like the man who wrote this poem did.


12 thoughts on “Cranky Old Man

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  1. Awwwww…Papa! My father’s going to be eighty in a couple of weeks, and your post made me think of him 🙂


  2. Wow- First visit to your blog and this post made me laugh, cry and smile all at once! Thank you… for both the poem and the beautiful vision of your papa. All my grandparents (and my Dad) are passed, but this made me fondly remember them and all their idiosyncrasies!
    Also- the line: “But inside this old carcass . A young man still dwells,” made me think of all of us with chronic illness… “My body may feel like it’s 90 but my soul is still young at heart!”
    Can’t wait to read more of your posts!


    1. I’m sorry you’ve lost so many in your life, but thanks for sharing how my post made you feel! 🙂 I agree the poem could apply in a lot of ways to people with chronic illness. We never stop being who we are.


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