Friday, August 21, 2009

Crabby Old Man


As I was searching through my writing resource files I came across the following item. It was sent to me quite some time ago as one those emails making the rounds. I don’t know why I saved it, but as I look at it now I seem to reflect on it more personally than I might have at first. I remember as my grandparents aged and as my mother reached the 100-year mark. I know of others who also found themselves in declining years with the declining abilities that come with the territory.

When I checked the story with Snopes, an Internet hoax tracker, I found it to be a well worn story with a number of different starting points, but not without a sense of authenticity. I decided that, for me, it didn’t make any difference where it came from. The story is worth repeating.

CRABBY OLD MAN

When an old man died in the geriatric ward of a small hospital near Tampa, Florida, it was believed that he had nothing left of any value.Later, when the nurses were going through his meager 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 Missouri. The old man's sole bequest to posterity has since appeared in the Christmas edition of the News Magazine of the St. Louis Association for Mental Health. A slide presentation (here) has also been made based on his simple, but eloquent, poem.

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......... 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.
'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!!

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!

FEEL FREE TO SHARE THIS POEM
The best and most beautiful things of this world can't be seen or touched. They must be felt by the heart. God Bless.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

The poem, titled Too Soon Old, was written by Dave Griffith of Fort Worth, Texas. Griffith told TruthOrFiction.com that he wrote the poem more than 20 years ago and that he meant for it to be simple, and too the point, from youth through old age in his own personal life, high school football, Marines, marriage, the ravages of his own disabilities.

Someone took the poem from his site, created a false story about it, and started it circulating on the Internet.

This doesn't diminish the poem and thought - just give due credit to the actual author'

Dan Perin said...

Thanks for the update! As you know this piece has been all over the world many times and did not originate on my blog. I did search for the validity and found, as I noted, it had gone through many versions, but I did not find the authorship on Snopes. Wherever possible I try to identify quotes I use.

Robin Barr said...

Like you, Dan, I checked the story with Snopes, and came to the same conclusion - it didn’t make any difference where it came from, the poem is of value. As each of us become that old man or woman, crabby or not, hopefully the younger people around us will have read this poem with an open heart.

Robin Barr said...

I neglected to mention in previous Comment, that although it doesn't make any difference where the story came from, it's still gratifying to have the mystery solved and to be able to give credit to the man who wrote the poem, Dave Griffith. So, thank you to Anonymous for sourcing the story.

Dan Perin said...

Thanks, Robin, for your two comments. Since publishing this on my blog it has gone around the world many more times and I get "hits" every day from new people. It is one of the more interesting phenomenons I have encountered.