Who am I

20 Oct

When an old man died in the geriatric ward of a nursing home in an Australian country town, it was believed that he had nothing left of any value.
Later, when the nurses were going through his meagre 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 Melbourne. The old man’s sole bequest to posterity has since appeared in the Christmas editions of magazines around the country and appearing in mags for Mental Health. A slide presentation has also been made based on his simple, but eloquent, 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.
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!!
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!




Posted by on October 20, 2014 in Uncategorized



22 responses to “Who am I

  1. Sue Dreamwalker

    October 24, 2014 at 1:04 pm

    Emu.. loved re reading this verse again.. I could never tire of its contents and even now my eyes grow moist.. As I remember how my poor dear Granddad was treated in a hospital oh some 40plus years past now.. I hope things have changes since then.. The said hospital since closed.. But so many do not see the ME of the person they treat.. This is a good reminder for us ALL.. xx Thank you Ian.
    Hugs Sue x

    • The Emu

      October 26, 2014 at 5:10 am

      Hi Sue, I found this verse on the internet, and not sure if its a true story, or the imaginations of the fertile mind of a poet. Either way its pretty well worded. Like your Grandad in your case, I think we all have seen someone who resembles the person in the imagery of the words.
      The profession of nursing can be a hard choice when one considers these words.

  2. kcg1974

    October 22, 2014 at 10:09 pm

    Yes, I remember this poem. So thought provoking. Thank you.

    • The Emu

      October 23, 2014 at 8:11 am

      I was sent this Kim, but had read it before, I dont know if its a true story or a well constructed piece of verse, by a very imaginative mind, either way it is very thought provoking.

      • kcg1974

        October 23, 2014 at 3:04 pm

        Yes, so lovely. I’m glad you posted it, because I had forgotten it from long, long ago. Thank you. 🙂

        • The Emu

          October 25, 2014 at 1:42 am

          Hi Kim, not sure if that posting is a true story, or a well constructed piece of verse.
          Either way it quite thought provoking.

  3. suzjones

    October 21, 2014 at 11:15 pm

    I remember reading this on the wall of a nursing home. I think it is lovely.

    • The Emu

      October 22, 2014 at 12:54 am

      Hi Sue, yes its been around a bit, not sure if its a true story
      or a well worded piece of poetry, either way it would make any nurse
      view her profession in a different light.

  4. cat

    October 21, 2014 at 1:47 pm

    My comments went “poof” again … I give up.

    • The Emu

      October 21, 2014 at 9:17 pm

      Nope, they are still here, just working my way through them at the moment
      Dont think I have ever missed one of your comments Cat.

  5. When in New Places

    October 21, 2014 at 3:10 am

    A truly great legacy to leave behind!!
    Wow, how surprising would those nurses have been to find this little gem?
    ~ Andrea ❤

    • The Emu

      October 21, 2014 at 9:20 pm

      It would certainly make you rethink your role as a nurse caring foran elderly person.
      Not sure if its a true story Andrea or a well constructed verse.

  6. cat

    October 20, 2014 at 5:17 pm

    Reminds me of a short poem I read a while ago … where a little boy sits on his grand father’s knee, and tells him, that he is sad cuz “he still pees his pants, and drops his spoon, and things” … and his grand father says to the little boy:” I do that too” … made me cry, Ian, when I read it first, and makes me cry to this day … Love u, cat.

    • The Emu

      October 21, 2014 at 9:21 pm

      Hi Cat, not sure if that story is true or just a well constructed poem.
      Either way it would make you rethink your role as a nurse, caring for an old person.

      • cat

        October 22, 2014 at 7:35 pm

        … don’t have to rethink for long, Ian … I grew up without grand parents … love my elderly patients because of that … 🙂

        • The Emu

          October 23, 2014 at 8:17 am

          Dont know if that poem is real or just athe result of a poets overactive imagination, either way its well written.
          Not sure what you mean by patients Cat, sounds like you have, or are involved in the nursing profession.
          Here I am imagining you driving tractors or reapers, schucking corn and in your spare time, feeding poddy calfs.
          Funny how the internet paints a different picture in an imagitive mind Cat.
          Cheers girl and keep smiling

  7. prenin

    October 20, 2014 at 2:49 pm

    I remember this poem from years ago – I remember emailing it to my friends when I was first sent it!!! 🙂

    One day I’ll be a cranky old man! 🙂

    God Bless!


    • The Emu

      October 21, 2014 at 9:23 pm

      Greetings Prenin, I have read this a few times before too.
      Dont know if its a true story or a well constructed poem.
      Either way it would make you rethink your role as a nurse caring for the elderly.

  8. Clowie

    October 20, 2014 at 11:03 am

    I’m glad they saved the poem.

    • The Emu

      October 21, 2014 at 9:25 pm

      Not sure if its a true story Clowie, or a well constructed poem.
      Either way its a very thought provoking writing.

  9. Eddie Two Hawks

    October 20, 2014 at 10:31 am

    This is a good reminder of time’s never ending progression. Nothing escapes. However, Ian you are only as ‘old’ as you ‘think’ you are. Just saw a story where two people found love in their ’80’s. It brought new life to them both with broad smiles and shinny faces.
    wishing you all the best always, Eddie

    • The Emu

      October 21, 2014 at 9:28 pm

      Good morning Eddie, not sure if this story was true or not, or just a well constructed piece of verse.
      Either way its a very thought provoking writing, you are right though, its a natural progression where the body breaks down yet the mind still has its powers , even if no one can read whats in the mind.


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