Crabby old man

With another birthday having slipped by, unnoticed by the multitudes, leaving me dangling in the precarious position of not  ever being able to, even on a clear day, see 77 again, I feel it only fitting that I pass on to you a bed-ridden, author-unknown poem that was forwarded to me,  from a longtime reader and friend.

“What do you see, nurses? What do you see? What are you thinking when you look 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 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 your eyes, nurses, 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 each other.

“A young boy of sixteen, with wings on his feet. Dreaming that soon now a lover he’ll meet. A groom soon at 20, 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 a secure, happy home. A man of 30, my young have grown fast. Bound to each other, with ties that should last.

“At 40, my sons have grown and are gone. But my woman’s beside me to see I don’t mourn. At 50, once more, babies play round my knee.

Again, we love children, my loved one and me.

“Dark days are upon me, my wife is now dead. I look at the future and 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 vigour depart. There is now a stone where once was my heart.

“But inside this old carcass a young guy still dwells. And now and again my battered heart swells.

I remember the joys and I remember the pain. And I’m loving and living my 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.”

So there you have it, folks, in words that could have been snatched from my very own mouth.

Take care, ‘cause we care.


Barrie Hopkins