Old Age …The Challenge ……

This poem was found in the meager possessions of an old man who died in the Geriatric Ward of a nursing home in Nebraska. For all worldly perceptions he had left nothing of value for posterity…except this exceptionally eloquent and moving poem…winging across the Internet ! What a valuable and thought provoking bequest from someone who will forever be nameless…but as it is said …what is in a name ? This is a poem that resonates with advancing age…the prayer as always is for the Good Lords Grace …

What do you see nurses? …….What do you see?
What are you thinking…….. When you’re looking at me ?
A crabby 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’s 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 . . . . . 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.
Tis 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 guy 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 crabby old man …. . . Look closer . . . See ME!!

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