Rumor Has It – Finding the Truth in Online Information

Adele says “rumor has it.” It is so easy to believe “rumors” no matter how good and pure of heart that they may seem. I recently read a beautiful story behind an amazing poem. I read the story on a Facebook group that I am a part of. I was mesermized by the thoughtful words of an inspirational elderly man. A picture was attached to his story and I was curious if the picture was the actual photo of the author. I needed a picture to go along with the story. So, I began researching via Google… I did find his picture, but after hours of research.

Here is the Original Poem

Source: http://www.palletmastersworkshop.com/old2.html and http://www.palletmastersworkshop.com/

Below are versions of the story behind the poem that follows. I directly “cut and pasted” them from the sources listed. Please keep in mind that both story one and two are false.

Story 1 “When an old man died in the geriatric ward of a nursing home in GRASS VALLEY , CA . It was believed that he had nothing left of any value. Later, when the nurses were going through his meager possessions, they found this poem. Its quality and content so impressed the staff that copies were made and distributed to every nurse in the home. 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. 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!” – http://www.facebook.com and more than 10 other websites.

Another website quoted the story a bit differently:

Story 2 “When an old lady died in the geriatric ward of a hospital in England, it appeared she had left nothing of value. The nurse, packing up her possessions, found this poem. The quality so impressed the staff that copies were distributed to all the nurses in the hospital. This poem then later appeared in the Christmas edition of “Beacon House News,” a magazine of the Northern Ireland Mental Health Association. This was the Lady’s bequest for posterity.”” – http://crepusculum60.wordpress.com/crabbit-old-lady/ (I couldn’t find the poem published in any publication from the Beacon House or the Northern Ireland Mental Health Association).

Story 3 A message board user posted: “It’s been around a fairly long time. I worked as a care assistant in many nursing homes and residential homes between 1995 and 2004, and without fail, in every single one, someone would have pinned a copy of this poem on the staff noticeboard.” – http://message.snopes.com/showthread.php?t=13896

Surprisingly, I discovered that the poem (that I thought was written by an elderly man in a nursing home) was actually written by a home-bound disabled man who has authored hundreds of poems. David Griffith is the original author of the widely circulated poem, “Too Soon Old.” I also discovered that the poem (as mentioned in the false background, did not actually appear in the Christmas edition of the St. Louis Association for Mental Health. This magazine does not exist. It is only found in google searches, in places where others have quoted the un-original version of the poem and background behind it. More than ten websites quote this poem as having been published in this non-existent magazine. However, an elderly person in a nursing home may have been found with this poem in his pocket. Perhaps the words of this poem spoke to his heart and how he felt as his years were coming to an end. Perhaps many aged individuals feel this way right now. (Source: http://www.truthorfiction.com/rumors/c/crabby-old-man.htm )

Story 4 -The real story….I found the original authors website, thanks to Dianne’s article @ http://www.dianeatwood.com/catchinghealth/2011/12/is-the-crabby-old-man-depressed/. Mr. Griffith’s website has his countless number of poems published online. They are amazing! He writes about his brother who is mentally ill, and shares insight for Kevin’s pure love for God. David also wrote some humorous poems called “Adam’s Underwear” and “Dr. Seuss Explains Computers.” David is actually a home-bound disabled person. He’s been writing and publishing short stories since 1969-forty three years ago (as of July, 2012). I have emailed him to find out more about him. To be honest, I am not sure if he is still living. His website is dated 2001-2008 and his guestbook is too full to receive more messages.

A link on his page led me to his photo. http://www.faeriekeeper.net/criteria1.htm (you can view it there, as my blog won’t let me post it….it must be copyrighted)

After typing his name in google images, I found a similar picture. At the following website, I found out that he was born in 1941 in Corpus Christi, Texas. If he is in fact still alive, he would be age 71. He was number 10 in a 10 child family. His parents were born late in the 1890s, and they too were from large families. He played high school football then later joined the Marines where he served two tours in Vietnam. After his military service he went to College and become an engineer and then a Southern Baptist Minister. He became homebound after suffering from a series of stress related heart attacks in the late 80s, and then a motorcycle wreck. He was left with spinal injuries and with a mobility impairment in 1991. He also suffers from Multiple Sclerosis. Once fully disabled Dave refused to give-up, but started a writing workshop and came on the internet full time. He is the author of over 600 poems and 100 short, stories, much of his works can be found at http://www.palletmastersworkshop.com where he maintains over 450 pages of his writings in page format. Dave is single, and lives alone with a full-time caregiver in Fort Worth, Texas. He refuses to live the life of a “cripple,” but rather travels, writes and maintains as active a lifestyle as his illnesses and injuries allow. Source: http://www.msmusings.com/archive90/97/GALLERY%2097,%208.htm (published 2007)

So, why did I spend all of this time researching the true story? I simply wanted to prove and follow several points. First, don’t believe everything you read on the internet. Second, think of how others feel-no matter how young or old they may be. Actively listen and help them in some way-don’t feel sorry for them. Next, research stories and find out the real meaning and history behind them. Also, enjoy poetry! Finally, learn about the stories behind your favorite poems and authors-it might make the poem come to life and become more personal. Last but not least, don’t quote a poem, statement or article without first reading the actual article and/or source.

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