Cranky Old Man

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Posted by Scott Sonnon

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

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.

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!

PLEASE SHARE THIS POEM (originally by Phyllis McCormack; adapted by Dave Griffith)


These days I may act adult most often when I take out my pups for a walk despite my really, really not feeling like it, which may not be just a  simple matter of risking my life when walking on snow and ice attached to two exuberant pups. Being known as the "Dog Lady" because I am seen all around downtown with my 'terrible terriers' (nah, they are good doggies) I ought to take that label as a compliment, rather then an insult, as there are too many times to count that I would much rather hole up at home, then venture out.

Ingesting a spread of tofu/tahini/miso with mixed in greens like parsley and watercress (and of course added sprinkles of ginger, black pepper, cayenne, plus tumeric of late) on rye crackers or rice cakes, instead of coffee ice cream, makes me feel terribly virtuous and adult too. For over one month now I have been avoiding fresh baked breads including tortillas, along with most dairy products, but not all. Birthdays deserve to be celebrated with ice cream for however long the glow might last. Degustations, such as those Whole Foods samples of super expensive cheeses don't count, freely acquired calories never add up to anything, ever.

I seemed wise to my clients when I was able to comprehend and formulate hidden aspects of their psychological make up and coax along the integration of such 'issues in the tissues'. But really one can not claim the wisdom of an organism ones own.

For more on matters of maturity please check Friko's Living Like A Grown Up and find the original post of that same title here.

Now I do think the world could use more inspiration from the elderly, so let me share that my almost next door neighbor, a woman in her mid-seventies, announced to me only yesterday her eminent marriage to her college sweetheart. This same woman, only a few years ago when she was the ripe age of 72,  impressed me with her one-woman show of her own written material. While she touched me with her stories, she literally glowed on stage with her presence. She performed like a pro despite it having been her very first time ever to stand in front of an audience.
Meanwhile, my middle aged buddy expressed great relief when he discovered some gray in the nether region of his new love interest. They had been out celebrating his birthday while they had not yet shared their vital statistics and he was worried the age gap may prove just a bit  too much for her to bear. Proof of their acting like adults is their having dated for two months, but having abstained from going all the way.

Indoctrination by Poupetta

To smoke, as an act of rebellion, while being a teenager, does not seem rebellious to me at all. It is ignorantly giving in to indoctrination from both the immediate circle of friends and the huge, aggressive cigarette manufacturers assisted by the media.
I have often reasoned with myself that if our teenagers want to rebel against society, if they strive to become independent and think for themselves, so why on earth do they fall like flies into the vicious nets of nicotine advertising pushers? Indoctrinators who don't give a damn about anything at all but their greed for money and power?
If our children achieve the understanding and grasp the fact that they are being utterly manipulated-- played smoothly like the play-dough they used themselves not too long ago-- in the hands of those guilt-free companies & fancy executives, would they let themselves be used without a fight?
These companies, who despite the hypocritical label "hazardous to your health" on their products, become more sophisticated in masking their bloody claws into trendy, polished palavers, all in order to get our children as fast as they possibly can and turn them into addicts for life, would our children then so easily fall into these well calculated traps? If they saw the catch in time?
Wouldn't our beloved children rebel against this despicable wickedness which robs them of their freedom, and in the long run of their heath as well, wouldn't they then boycott all those damned cigarettes? After all our children see us, their role models, adults who try numerous times to quit smoking, yet fail again and again and jeopardize our health. If only they would see the plot when there is still time.
My beloved Aunt started to smoke as a joke when she was only 16 y/o. Like everybody else she wanted to appear tougher than she was, she wanted to be popular. Throughout her life she inhaled large amounts of the addictive drug until her lungs were totally pierced and black with tar. She tried to quit smoking time after time, succeeded only for a week or so, went on smoking and continued to struggled for nearly 60 years. All in vain, she was doomed from her very first "supposedly innocent" cigarette.
I saw her agony, I saw her terrible suffering. I saw her die in horrible pain, totally in the merciless arms of the cruel lung cancer caused by nicotine.
If only our children could see in time the traps that are put out for them disguised as freedom of choice.
I still remember that cigarette which I deliberately took in order to aggravate my mom-- I was only 15 or 16 y/o at the time, it was my job to rebel against her, right?
It all started a few days earlier. Two of my high-school mates called me to have a cigarette with them in a hidden corner of the school yard. One of the girls, Yona was her name-- beautiful, thick long blond braid hanging heavily on her back, smart girl, bright in class-- was my idol, someone I looked up to and wanted to be as good as she, especially in mathematics, a subject I had always difficulties with. The other girl, Devorah, was already a smoker, as far as I can recall. Yona had always enough pocket money to buy cigarettes and so she offered me one. I took it and sucked on it, not really knowing what to do, but i didn't want to appear childish so I went on blowing some smoke. After a few minutes my mouth had a disgusting taste in it and I felt nauseated, however, I still didn't stop, all I wanted was to be like Yona, popular and at the top of our class. If she did it it was an act of boldness and daring which I admired.
I decided to buy a packet of mint flavored cigarettes, called Polaris at the time, mid 60's, and waited for the moment to confront my mother. The opportunity didn't take long to show up.
That Friday afternoon, after school was done for the week, Mom and I were sitting and discussing something which I can't remember now what it was. I opened my little brown leather purse, took out the unopened package of cigarettes, tore up the cellophane wrapping, pulled out a long, white cigarette, elegantly, so I thought, putting it in my mouth, waiting excitedly for the reaction of my strict disciplinary mother. I was ready for a wild fight and about to lit my liberating cigarette, my act of rebellion, when Mommy said very calmly:
"Alors, Poupetta, tu fumes maintenant?"... So I see that you have taken up smoking, huh..."
"Yes!" I said triumphantly, provocatively, anticipating the big revolution I had in mind, imagining my mother's fuming outburst and uncontrollable anger.
Well, come on, give it to me, Mom, my 15-16 years old energy boiled in me.
Well... I sat there, still holding onto that famous cigarette, but the spark from that friction I was delivering so eagerly didn't get on fire. Neither did my cigarette for that matter. It was simply dull. Mom said no more, so unlike her, I thought, she always lectured me, always. Why, only the other day she was praising Yona, who came for a visit, urging me to take after her studious nature, I who had nothing but the Beatles on my mind!
It was a total flat disappointment, no reaction was boring and so I didn't see why I should go on pretending I liked smoking when I actually despised the smell and taste of it. And if I couldn't even get Mom aggravated so why on earth bother at all.
"Here, Mommy, take it," I said handing her the brand new package of Polaris mint cigarettes.
This is a copy of Poupetta's post on flickr which I posted here with permission in hopes of making a difference, if only to one person.

You may like to check an earlier post of mine that relates to the theme of smoking here: A Poignant Moment

Aljazeera reports on Outsourcing Addiction: "Research shows smoking has killed more people globally than alcohol, AIDS, car accidents, drugs and crime combined. Despite the risks, tobacco profits continue to soar, reaching $35 billion in 2010, or the combined profits of Coca-Cola, Microsoft and McDonald's."... "It is predicted 80 per cent of global tobacco consumption will be in the developing world by 2030."

Small Town Living

I got my mom's tiny nail scissors, dulled by years of 'schnibbling' away at my furry companions, sharpened at the farmers market, finally. Told the guy too that he had pissed me off when he payed too much attention to his apprentice and none to me, not once, but trice about 3 years ago! He apologized and I shared some of my freshly gathered apricots with him before we parted with smiles.
Apricots are in season and are dropping off trees on to public streets where it is legal to gather them. So far I collected three big bowls full, but darn it takes a lot to fill one jar with compote.  I still lack enough for freezing, much less to pass on to the nearby shelter. I have had apricots for breakfast, lunch and dinner, almost, everyday of late. In Switzerland we eat big platters of fruit pie on meatless Fridays. Here is how I make my kind of Aprikosen Waehe:  

I cup of organic spelt flour, maybe half and half with organic whole wheat flour enhanced with some sesame seed and wheat germ. 
Mix to a dough with a bit of water, braggs and sesame oil (careful of too much kneading.) 
Press in to a pie form, oiled also with a bit of sesame oil, so much better tasting then olive oil and a lot healthier then butter. 
Cover with almond pieces or more traditional hazelnut meal.
Place in heated (toaster-) oven for about 10 minutes.
Decorate pie with halved apricots, squeezing in as many as possible.
Place back in to oven for another 10 minutes.
Pour one egg sweetened maybe with sugar, or tangerine juice, added lemon juice, maybe vanilla and/or cinnamon, including a tablespoon full of yogurt or rice milk - or not.
Place back in to oven for another 10 minutes.
Voila, Aprikosen Waehe ready to eat in an easy half hour!
I love living in a small town where the fruit falls down on streets, ripe for the picking, where the conductor will wave at us from a passing train and where the security guy will stop to check in on how things are and will share the latest news, some relevant to the 'hood, but some more personal. I have not yet dared to ask about Sam's teeth, he had them before, but no more.

The Face of Patriotism

simple minded,
 slightly silly
delightful in small dosages.

In One Morning Only

Out on bike with Sumo in my bright butterfly dress, one guy took a shot and called me "beauty" (rare for me) and another smiled and recalled aloud O'Keeffe (did I look to him like an open flower, lol?) 

Outside Trader Joe's (the American version of the German Aldi) I hitched my bike to the same post, at the same time as an 84 year old cyclist (he revealed his age to me upon my prodding) but he tied his bike with a string and said he could not afford to shop at Trader Joe's. He said he had to resort to the dollar store, but not for food I exclaimed. 

I had just splurged on another Orchid I should not afford. The sprite old man told me he could not afford to get impatient as he painstakingly worked to untie the knot he had made in his string earlier. So busy, he offered me a story. With glee the skinny, a bit frail looking, little man told me how he gave a dollar to a person that had asked him for money - only to find a dollar just steps away. He promised more stories the next time we meet.

One sweet, smiling older lady in lace filled a little basket with apricots picked off the side walk. She planed to simmer them down with a bit of liquor and to pour them over her ice cream. So inspired I filled a poop bag with apricots found at our favorite park, further away from traffic. I plan to bake them in to a pie of sorts ('Aprikosen Waehe' - what the devout Swiss Christians eat on meat-free Fridays.) The first few fruits though were devoured happily by my pups. 

In the park with both of my pups, we came upon one Native American splattered out on the grass, limbs in all directions, face down, a nice bike with even a nicer crate and belongings scattered in the already hot sun. I was relieved to note slight movement of his ribcage. To intervene or not? I tried to walk on, but could not. I asked the man if he was alright. He nodded yes. Not too hot? No. The man started to stir. Then explained that a thirty-something old man had offered him a drink. He had fallen unconscious and had gotten cold during the night. He had moved in to the sun to warm up. I picked up his bike, gathered his belongings (a nice pair of earrings, he might likely be an artisan from one of our surrounding pueblos in town to sell his art.) I wished him well. He thanked me, offered me the earrings and got up on his feet, as I already had walked on down the path. Oddly my pups never barked at this somewhat strange body on the ground, I like to assume because they knew him to be good.

The morning not yet over, I brought my Isabella-girl, my first canine companion, a rescue dog, my source of too much worry and anxiety for a consultation to a Pet Intuitive right across the street. A luscious, laughing, big bosomed lady assured me that Isabella was just fine, not at all grossly overweight like my Buddy Ed tried to impress on me last night at the dog park. "You are killing her" he had told me! Both advocated to feed my pups separately for a while at least. I promise I will.