All over the world, hospitals and nursing homes are filled with senior citizens who are virtually forgotten. The sad truth is that many of their families put them in these homes and forget about them. Additionally, the nursing staff at these establishments are often so busy that they don’t have time to really get to know their patients.
When Mak Filiser died in the geriatric ward of a nursing home, the nurses believed that he left nothing behind of any real value.
However, when they started to clear out his room for future patients, one of the nurses stumbled upon something amazing — a poem. The nurse was so impressed with Filiser’s poem that she made copies and sent them out to every employee.
It was called “Cranky Old Man” and it goes a little something like this…
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…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 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 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.