Joan touches upon something very dear to my heart: how we treat our parents and seniors in our lives. I made a decision 20 years before my mother’s death never to get frustrated with her—never again, I should say. This is a wonderful reminder to pay attention to older individuals around us.

Joan: This past Tuesday (September 24) would have been my parent’s 75th wedding anniversary. Remembering them got me to thinking about how I treated them before their passing. Was I as generous with my time as I could have been? Did I value the wisdom they had gained? Did I really see them?

Q. I understand that. I think about that now with my stepdad. I’m pretty sure I did well with my mom in this regard. But there are other older individuals who I do try to give that special attention to; I hope I do see them.

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Joan: When I reminisced about this, I stumbled upon this poem that someone sent to me seven years ago. It reminded me of the gifts our elderly can give to us, if we let them.

According to the email that I received, this poem was written by an elderly man who died in the geriatric ward of a nursing home in California. When the nurses were going through his possessions, they found his poem. It so impressed the staff that copies were made and distributed to every nurse in the hospital. This little old man, with nothing left to give to the world, is now the author of this anonymous poem that is touching the lives of many.

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 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 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 around 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!

Joan: Let this serve as a reminder to you to treasure an older person that you might brush aside. If we are blessed and live long enough, we will be that person one day, too.