They Come to Us
By: Gordon R. Korb

They come to us—
Some with outstretched hands
In anticipation of new experiences,
New friends, in a new place, welcoming this new adventure.

Some come with clenched fists,
Defiantly opposed
To what has been decided by someone else.
Anger erupts and secret wishes to die brood within.

Some come with fear in their eyes
Not sure who or where they are;
Aware that sometimes their memory fails.
And as they look down life’s road it seems dark and lonely.

And some come, led by others
Because they no longer know present reality;
Possessing bodies that are slowly failing.
The staring eyes tell all.

We greet them and wonder-
Wonder how it will be for them.
Will they adjust?
Can we help them?

We greet their family members who too have
Outstretched hands, clenched fists, fear in their eyes;
Not sure how it will be and
Tired of body and soul in the role of Caregiver.

If only we somehow could assure them
That it is going to be all right.
That we will love them through their fear,
Guide them through their confusion,
And encourage them to an acceptance of life as it is now.

We see reflections of ourselves in those who come.
We too are tired, fearful, and unsure at times.
And we are reminded
Of where and how we may be in a few no-so-distant years.
And we wonder…

We wonder who will be there to assure us in our old age.
Whose hands will be outstretched
To receive us, to hold us, to guide us,
To embrace us with all our fears, resistance, and confusion.

And so, they keep coming…
And going.
Some stay just a short time.
Others are granted time measured in years.

Whatever the length of the journey we greet them,
Accepting them as they are,
Hopeful that we will be granted strength, wisdom, love
And patience as they are entrusted to our care.
So, they come to us.
And we welcome them!

Editor’s Note: Gordon R. Korb, a licensed nursing home administrator, lives in Mobile, Alabama. He was first licensed in Indiana in 1979, and earned his Alabama license in 1984. This poem was written in 1995 while Mr. Korb was serving as Executive Director of St. Martin’s in the Pines in Birmingham, Alabama. It is published on ANHA.org with Mr. Korb’s permission.