I don't even have a picture of this man but in recent weeks he's become a great source of inspiration to me. Has this ever happened to you - you're just minding your own business and then someone steps into your life rather inconspicuously and unobtrusively only to start popping into your field of vision frequently after that? Well, that's how Mr. Keith came into my life.
I was at the gym with my trainer one day and this big tall guy came over and started putting our weights away (while we were using them). I was very surprised but Dan (my trainer) knew what was happening and went and talked to him. He (John) had thought that people had just left the weights out as frequently happens at that gym and John was trying to tidy up. We all got a cute laugh out of that and went back about our respective businesses.
The next time I remember seeing John he was wearing a Navy ball cap so I asked him if he had been in the Navy and he had. So we had something else in common (the first was knowing Dan and caring about doing the right thing to clean up our own mess). We exchanged pleasantries and that was it. Another fleeting moment.
But then last week I was on the treadmill after my 50 mile run waiting for Dan and of course feeling a bit "down" and sorry for myself because my knee was really trashed and I was concerned that it would hinder my running from now on. Next thing I know I got a tap on the shoulder and it was John saying hello. I thought that was nice in and of itself. So we got to talking a bit. He told me that he had had cancer (and beaten it) and was on a ton of pain pills after multiple surgeries and that he was still working but that they had cut his hours down some so that he could rest more. He said it in such a "matter of fact", "that's just the way it is" manner - not trying to solicit sympathy or anything, just explaining that I was touched in a way I had never been before. Here was a man who had served his country in the Navy and never asked for anything, who had experienced more medical challenges than I could ever even comprehend, and was still concerned about the world and people around him to the degree that he goes out of his way to be nice and friendly to others.
This inspired me. It may sound dorky to you all but his resolve and quiet nature while enduring such pain and personal agony makes me just go up to him and hug him every time I see him now (that's a funny picture since he's about 2 feet taller than me - maybe not that much but it seems like it).
Whenever things appear rough I have John to think about and know that I can get through it and that whatever I am going through is nothing compared to what he's experienced and yet he's still at the gym every day taking care of himself and having wonderful words of encouragement for everyone around him. And he has praise for his medical care, not complaints (which often happens with people in chronic pain when their pain can't be completely relieved).
This man is a true inspiration to me and makes me concentrate more on gratitude for all the great things I have going on in my life (and have had all my life - everything has happened at just the right moment in my life even if I didn't realize it at the time).
Thank you John Keith for "popping" into my life at this time. May I bring a smile to your face and the knowledge that you have a shipmate that cares about you and respects you highly!