While its story changes, this “Grumpy Old Man” poem’s message is as true as ever.
While this poem is at least 40 years old, its message never grows tired.Currently, the story going around social media is that, while cleaning a lonely old man’s nursing home room, nurses find the poem scrawled on a piece of paper.
What do you see nurses? What do you see?What are you thinking, when you look 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 a 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 you 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 10, with a father and mother,Brothers and sisters, who love one another.A young boy of sixteen, with wings on his feetDreaming 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 25, 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 that 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 once I 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!
Having read his poem, the nurses no longer think of the poem’s author as a “cranky old man.” Instead, they realize the author’s gentle humanity, and the nurses resolve to seek the hearts in everyone whom the they encounter.