Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Compassion For The Elderly

“Inside every older person is a younger person wondering what happened”
Jennifer Yane

As the job hunting has been totally unfruitful, one of my options for earning money is to go over to London and do a course on Care Giving for the elderly.  Once you have passed the exam with over 80%, cannot be too hard, the agency finds you a position with a family.  It is very well paid but friends and family have asked me if I could cope doing this kind of work.  I do tend to be empathetic so, as long as I can keep my boundaries and not get emotionally involved, I am sure I would be fine.  I realise now that it may not be so easy ……

I came across this story on Facebook the other day which emphasizes the insensitivity towards the elderly. It also teaches us that although they can be difficult and tend to not communicate, they are still human and have feelings like us all.  It makes me wonder how many times we presume that an elderly person has Alzeimers or are senile when in fact they are mourning their past, are full of fear for what future they have left and do not know how to express their feelings.
When an old man died in the geriatric ward of a nursing home in North Platte, Nebraska , it was believed that he had nothing left of any value.  Later, when the nurses were going through his meagre 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 has also been made based on his simple, but eloquent, poem.

And this little old man, with nothing left to give to the world, is now the author of this 'anonymous' poem winging across the Internet…….

Crabby Old 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 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!!

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!
The best and most beautiful things of this world cannot be seen or touched.  They must be felt by the heart.

“Never lose sight of the fact that old age needs so little but needs that little so much”
Margaret Willour


  1. Wow Sara, I am speechless. This is sad-beautiful. Thanks for sharing and reminding us not to judge people from outside (judge book by its cover).

    1. Thanks Retha - still thinking of going on that course in London though - will see what happens with my British passport application xxx

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