Wednesday, January 30, 2013
I’m tossing my usual blogging format out the window today because there is something that weighs on my heart.
I was driving to work this morning and this advertisement on the radio said something like: Do your parents need care? Just call 1-800- a place for mom. I about drove off the side of the road. What have we become? Where are our priorities?
Because some that read this blog know me personally, live in my community and know who I know, I’m going to be very careful how I word this. Also, I realize that this subject can be a rather volatile one in certain circumstances.
I know an elderly gentlemen. He is 81 years old and has become a very dear friend of mine. He lives with his wife, who has arthritis and scoliosis. They have been married over 51 years, he calls her his “bride,” and they have 3 children and many grandchildren. This man could out run, out work and out shoot a 40 year old. I am serious!
I know that one child lives a great distance. The other two live around an hour away. The children have not come to visit in years, they haven’t seen their grandchildren grow up. They send their parents Christmas cards with money, forget their birthdays and do not call. This is not an over-exaggeration, nor is it made up. What is worse is that this is not because there has been a disagreement; their children are “busy.”
He made a comment today that if his wife was to fall and hurt herself, and he called his kids that none of them would come. He asked his wife last night if they even had kids.
A few weeks ago, he had cataract surgery. He was very worried that if there were complications, who would take his wife to the grocery or the doctor. I told him that he should call me. He looked stunned! “You mean you’d do that?” I told him that I and about 10 others would be banging down his door with dinners, help and transportation.
Thirty years ago, you had your parents living with you. My grandmother lived with us. I have informed my family over and over that because I am the eldest, I get my parents. I want my parents!
I’m just stunned by this change in societal attitudes where we think that when an aging parent is in need… you find someone else to take care of them or put them in a home! They took care of you for 18+ years, don’t you owe them 18+ years of caring for them?
I’m considering calling that phone number and telling them that the ONLY place for mom is home with me.
When an old man died in the geriatric ward of a nursing home in an Australian country town, 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 Melbourne. The old man's sole bequest to posterity has since appeared in the Christmas editions of magazines around the country and appearing in mags for Mental Health. A slide presentation has also been made based on his simple, but eloquent, poem.
And this old man, with nothing left to give to the world, is now the author of this 'anonymous' poem winging across the Internet.
Cranky Old Man
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 . . . ..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 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!!
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!