An Old Man’s Poem. (This made me cry.)

Via Tom Grasso (Gyandeva)
on Aug 14, 2012
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Got this from Facebook, and it moved me to tears.

Perhaps because I am not getting any younger, and I can see my life thus far following this man’s description.

I wish he was around so that I could give him a hug and let him know he is loved, but alas, he has passed. Maybe another lesson here is to share that love with others while they are around to accept it? To steal a line from one of my favorite Pearl Jam lyrics (to Love Boat Captain):

“And the young, they can lose hope cause they can’t see beyond today,…
The wisdom that the old can’t give away”

Man, if we’d only listen from time to time! Anyway, I hope this has an effect on you as well.

{While the source of the poem has been questioned, the sentiment is beautiful. Enjoy! ~ ed.}


Cranky Old Man

(Originally by Phyllis McCormack; adapted by Dave Griffith)

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!!

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About Tom Grasso (Gyandeva)

Tom Grasso is a Colorado-based seeker, meditator, blogger (new site), and creative wordsmith. More importantly, he is a father of three (meaning he is also a lecturer, teacher, chef, order taker, taxi driver, coach, mentor and aspirin addict) and has found great joy in sharing his life experience to the benefit of others. Tom is an abuse survivor and a reformed (though unapologetic) bad ass warrior who bares the scars of his adventures and the power of transformation in every word he writes. As a former firefighter and rescue tech, Tom understands the fragility of life and the impermanence of each moment. You can follow Tom on Tumblr , and can find his books on Amazon. You will soon be able to purchase Tom's short stories (and erotica) at Don't forget to like his "blog page" at Tom Grasso, Writer on Facebook.  


26 Responses to “An Old Man’s Poem. (This made me cry.)”

  1. slsimms says:

    Thank you for sharing this Tom…definitely slows down this marathon we call "living."

  2. Mamaste says:

    Of course YOU would find this, Tom. It is beautiful and made me cry.

    Just intro'd on FB to: Enlightened, Health & Wellness, Love & Family.

  3. Natalie Baginski says:

    what a wonderful poem. thank you for sharing.

  4. Charlotte Gedney says:

    I am craky and ugly and only see the shell…not mr…

  5. Charlotte Gedney says:

    Cranky, ugly. only a shell…loosing my mind. I hate to proofread! ME

  6. Xerxes says:

    My wife is now in an assisted living home at 50 years old, thanks to MS. There is a dear lady of 91 who dotes on her and gives continuous love in spite of her own infirmities and occasional dementia. It is so horrible the way that we throw out the old and disabled like garbage, instead of gleaning wisdom from them like cultures as recently as 100 years ago did. Baby Boomers, Karma is coming. You reap what you sow.

  7. James H says:

    Our culture has definitly leaned wrongly as you say Xerxes, it has been horrible we have all seen it and most turn away. But look harder at this, these words of an old man will reach out to touch the hearts of many here. He still lives in those words of sharing, his rememberances of those times will ring true in every one of us, this journey is the same for us all. Mayhap this can bring more hearts into loving thought. Much love for your wife, the dear lady of 91, and to you as well.

  8. tomgrasso says:

    As it should! The poem, to me, isn't about this old man or his life, it is about how this experience could be used by me to make each…moment a testament to the experience I am having…LIFE! Slow it down…enjoy it…savor it…and don't rush off to the next moment or look forward.

    A lesson well learned! 🙂

  9. tomgrasso says:

    Sharon…beauty knows beauty. Period.

  10. tomgrasso says:

    "I am" is none of those things unless those things are created by the "I am". As such, they can be changed, no?

  11. tomgrasso says:

    LOL…me too. I do it grudgingly but have found joy in it as part of the creative process. I think anyway.


  12. tomgrasso says:

    Xerxes…it is horrible as you say, but why do you think we do it? In my experience, it is fear. Fear of understanding the impermanence of our existence and that each moment is transitory and, as such, can be used to lead us into experiences we may not see as welcomed. What do you think?

    I wish the best for you, your wife, and your family. Peace.

  13. Bethany Newman says:

    It really does make you cry just shows that we need to live life whilst we can x

  14. Suw says:

    This would be the perfect words my Dad would say he is in a Care Home after a stroke

  15. I have to say that for the last couple of hours i have been hooked by the amazing posts on this site. Keep up the good work.

  16. B.E.Whitehorn says:

    because in the society we live in… respect is no longer taught.nor is honor

  17. David says:

    This poem pissed me off. It's too predictable. I see what it's trying to do, though, underneath all the cliche.

  18. Pranic Roger says:

    the poem infers that old age is full of despair, bitterness and regret, out of control, without will, nor compassion for self or others; I beg to differ; old age can be respectful, joyful, and lived in the moment with detachment, acceptance, and dignity. The mind which confers disrespect and lack of forgiveness to others for their shortcomings is what holds us hostage to cravings, unmet expectations, and dishonour. Blessings to all who are aging to take responsibility and ownership for their every moment and blessings on all those called to look after those who are decaying and preparing to die.

  19. donna says:

    This was taught to me in nursing school and informs my practice.

  20. christy says:

    I have read this in two skilled nursing centers (SNF) that I have worked in, it is very poignant. Visit any nursing home or SNF and you shall meet this man and or woman. Many of them rarely get visitors, it is sad, even sadder, many of them just crave a hug or a hand to hold…

  21. This is an amazingly beautiful and sad poem. So many elderly people waste their last years with us angry because of all the regret they feel. Others embrace the lives they've lived and they never stop enjoying the small moments and victories. Thank you so much for posting this. It's a wonderful reminder of why we should enjoy life always.

  22. This is actually a remake of a famous poem by Phyllis Mabel McCormack titled Crabbit Old Woman. There is a lovely response from a nurses perspective here:…. Reading them both together shows the special relationship between the care giver and the cared for.

  23. Teresa says:

    The elders are very well cared for at the facility I work at. We are very dedicated to their care and what they say and we listen. I personally have the highest respect for them and love my work. It is my calling, and we need more support for a higher quality of care no matter what the money says!

  24. liza says:

    Wow..i can relate with old man’s poem. I used to havea RCFE (residential care facility for elderly) in California. One of them is a music composer. She can hardly hear but one time when I turn on the karaoke and d staff started singing ” Let me call u sweetheart” she sing also. I was shocked because this lady can hardly talk. It was amazing! I wont forget her..

  25. Alf Joubert says:

    As a child I grew up in a frailcare home my step mother (not step to me) ran. I was fortunate to have had a few grand fathers and Grand mothers arround. This poem took me back more than sixty years.

    I will never forget the thankfulness of the men folk after I washed and cut and combed their hair. Today I turn seventy two on the 8 of Feb. I lost my mother at the age of eight, she was burried on my birthday. In return God blessed me with a new life, a life to regard others and care for others. At my age I have good health and am of sound mind. I still regard older people as someone with dignity and with worth.

    The old saying ” do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is very true.