See that old man sitting there
with his wrinkled skin and graying hair.
Look at him discretely – don’t let him see you stare,
His mind and body broken, and no one seems to care.
Have you thought or really wondered what life he lived before
his age became a burden and life became a chore.
He was a babe, a child, a parents’ joy,
a teenager, with his life yet to explore!
He courted girls and went to school
He worked a trade and learnt the tools.
When came the wars he served his time
then came home to marry the girl he left behind.
He was a friend, a lover to his wife;
He raised his children and sheltered them from strife.
He watched them grow and felt the pain
and joy of each and every girl and boy.
He helped them through their troubled times,
Gave advice and moral support,
Helped with their homework and watched them in their sport.
Now things are grim who thinks of him
Who understands or cares?
Who helps him carry his burden or even tries to share
his troubles and his worries or even dares
To take the time to ask him how he really fares?
No doubt he wouldn’t tell you the truth of how he felt
That he was alone these days and that his hand was almost dealt.
His beloved she has gone before,
His children have found visiting a chore -
Their busy lives and family they endure.
But his needs are forgotten and his company now a bore.
But should you take the time to speak with him
His eyes would light and he’d manage a grin
and you’d find that his life has been interesting.
No doubt he’d tell you many a tale worth documenting but not for sale!
So next time you see him crouching there
Offer him a hand and show you care
No doubt he’ll sound a little gruff or say he’s fine and all that stuff
But treat him as a human and not some wasted flesh
This will brighten his day and help to ease his stress!
© copyright Beverley Woodman 2005
I wrote this poem quite a few years ago and actually had it on Red Bubble originally but withdrew it as I had it entered in a poetry competition recently. This work was inspired by me watching my elderly patients each day, with their dementias and illnesses and then later realising that these people had a life, they were vital people in our society, many holding down important and very interesting jobs. Despite what they did in their earlier days many love to tell their story and I always try to find some time to listen for they hold our communities history, they have seen the changes, they have lived the changes … and they have given so much and done without to do it. This is my little thank you to our aged folk. Do me a favour and document your elderly relatives lives as it is history no matter how grand or how poor. Once they are gone, their stories are lost forever.