Journal of a Living Lady #354
Nancy White Kelly
The saddest part of living in a retirement area is seeing your older friends grow even older. Fifteen years ago we moved from the southern suburbs of Atlanta to the north Georgia mountains. Except for a work acquaintance, we knew nobody.
In the ensuing years, new acquaintances evolved into dear friends. We have shared meals, laughed, cried, traveled, and worshipped with our substitute family.
Lately, we have noticed that our inventory of cherished friends is dwindling. If mortuaries offered frequent funeral miles, we would have enough for a trip somewhere far away.
Old age and death fascinate me. I suppose that is because I have managed to postpone the dying part thanks to or in spite of doctors. Wish I had a remedy for taxes. Unfortunately one must die to escape them. That is a lose-win situation.
Recently an old man died in the geriatric ward of a nursing home in Nebraska. It was believed that he had nothing left of any value. Later, when the nurses were going through his meager possessions, they found a poem he had penned. It spoke volumes to me and deserves to be shared.
THE CRABBY MAN
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 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, 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 secure a 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 and shudder with dread..
For my young are all rearing kids 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 o’er 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!!
Readers, I am off to the nursing home. Will you come too?