Tabatha Deans

Bringing Integrity to the Written Word

A not so righteous run…


               With cooler temperatures I resumed my daily run in the park near the office. It’s about three miles around the park on the dirt path, with a smaller concrete path below. I’ve been running, or rather walking mostly, for more than a year, and have come to see a lot of the same people exercising. Bike riding through in the morning on the way to work I run across the morning walkers, who are out with their dogs and/or friends and enjoying the start of a new day. Biking through the park in the evening on the way home, there are soccer moms killing time, and horribly annoying cyclists who think they’re riding in the Tour De France and own the pathway. Then there are the mid-day joggers, such as myself. Nobody’s really happy, we’re all red-faced and huffing in the mid-day sun, with looks of disgust and pain on our faces. The  nooners are there just to get our exercise out of the way. There are no smiles, nods, or small-talk as we pass each other. There is only the desperate look of determination to get it over with.

               When I first started jogging around the park last year, I came across a relatively young man, perhaps early 40’s, who was struggling at one of the workout stations surrounding the path. He was slowly working on doing sit-ups, and I thought he looked a little weak for such a young man. Then he got up and began walking, and it was obvious he was recovering from a stroke. He tediously drug his leg along behind the rest of his body, his arm hanging limply at his side. I had circled the park and was on my way back in the time it had taken him to drag himself to the next exercise station, where he was forcing himself to clutch the bar in front of him while he stretched. I watched him slowly get a little stronger each week, but haven’t seen him this summer, since I’ve mainly been riding my bike for exercise.

               But I saw him again today. And I barely recognized him. He still has a slight limp, and if you look closely you can tell one arm hangs lower than the other, but aside from being a little slow, you would never know he was the same broken man from a year ago. He jogged slowly from station to station, and even though I passed him on the trail, my little 30-minute jog seemed insignificant compared to the great lengths that stranger has gone to for his own health.

               I stepped up my pace slightly to assuage my guilty feelings of my inadequate workout, and was feeling pretty righteous again as I rounded the corner at the far end of the park. The exercise station there is one that’s used for upper body workouts, including a pull-up bar. I once made a goal of being able to do one chin-up, and actually exceeded it by doing two pull-ups, and I remembered my glory days fondly as I approached the station. After all, nor many 40-something-year-olds could even do one pull-up. Or so I thought. An older man, another regular I had seen circling the park for exercise, planted himself beneath the bar. What was left of his hair was gray, making me believe he was nearing 60. He reached up and grabbed the bar with both hands, and almost effortlessly, pulled himself up above the bar. Wow, I was impressed. Then he did it again. And again. And again. Twelve pull-ups he did, without shaking arms or struggling with his legs to kick himself up and over.

               He finished and caught me watching him. I applauded and gave him a thumbs up, and he smiled big and took off walking to the next station. Although my muscles thanked me for the meager workout, I didn’t feel as good as I had hoped after my jog, but am determined to run a little faster, do at least five sit ups and attempt the pull-up thing again tomorrow.

September 20, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment



A few weeks ago I spent a leisurely Sunday sipping coffee and wandering around town. I slept late, then got up and brewed a pot of coffee in my new coffee maker. It’s really too big for one person, but Karma gave it to me and I love the smell of coffee warming throughout the day. It uses about the same amount of grounds to brew two cups or six cups, so I opted to err on the side of excess.

I was headed to the library to return some books and check out a couple of DVD’s, then planned to return home and spend the afternoon doing mindless internet research and watching videos. The library didn’t open until one, so I took a long hot bath, enjoyed a nice breakfast of fried potatoes, eggs and cheese. My cozy little home seemed even cozier with the smell of coffee and potatoes. It was bitter cold outside, and I was happy for the chance to wear my wonderful boots, awesome hat and warm parka. My heart was full of joy as I poured myself a cup of coffee for the walk downtown.

As I approached the library I saw an old man standing on the sidewalk, in the seemingly endless line of homeless people asking for money. He wobbled on his feet and had a wild look in his eyes, watching closely everyone who walked past him, but not speaking to them. His beard was long and white, with brown stains on the strands around his mouth, from coffee, cigarettes, and lack of washing. His fingernails were too long and filled with dirt, and his teeth had obviously not seen a toothbrush for a long time.

He watched me closely as I passed, but didn’t solicit me in any way. I could feel him watching me as I entered the library and I felt a little odd, although I didn’t really know why. I returned my items and thanked the universe for my good fortune when I found a full season of 30 Rock that I hadn’t seen. I was in and out in less than 15 minutes, and again found myself walking before the old man. As I approached him he wobbled on his feet toward me, and I braced myself to tell him I didn’t have any change. His question surprised me.

“How many coins for your hot beverage?” He asked. I could barely understand him, and for some reason, I quickly turned him down.

“Sorry, God Bless.” And I walked on. He persisted, wobbling a couple of more steps behind me.

“I’ll give you some coins for you hot drink. How much?” He insisted.

I’m ashamed to say I simply walked away. I felt immediately guilty, but kept on walking. By the time I was consumed with guilt I was already several blocks away, and rationalized it wouldn’t make any sense to go back. Why had I reacted that way? I certainly had plenty of coffee waiting for me at home. I was dressed warmly, and didn’t really need the hot liquid to warm my belly. Ashamed, I went home and tried to forget about it.

I couldn’t. That old man and my selfishness has haunted me for weeks.

Today I awoke in a hurry to get out the door and go to work. I reached for the coffee to start it brewing, and realized I was out. I dressed quickly and headed for McDonald’s for a cup of java for my commute. On the way I realized I didn’t have any change, and would have to use my debit card to get my fix. Well, if I was going to run a card I didn’t want to do it for just one dollar, so I thought I would be forced to get a biscuit, and maybe a hashbrown, at least 500 calories worth of needless food.

Then I had a better thought. I bought three large coffees, with lots of cream, sugar and Splenda on the side. I mixed up my coffee and put the rest of the condiments in my pocket, then headed down Colfax with two extra steaming cups of coffee. It was a cold morning, and the streets were deserted. I was nearly to the Civic Center station before I ran across two men. One was a Native American, wearing only jeans and a T-shirt, with a light blanket wrapped around his shoulders. He was talking to another man who was only slightly better dressed. Nervously I approached them.

“Excuse me. Would you gentlemen be interested in a cup of coffee?” I asked. The words were barely out of my mouth when the taller man reached for the cups. The Native American was a little more shy, but smiled and thanked me as he took the other cup.

“Thank you.” He said simply.

“You’re welcome. God bless you.” I smiled and went on. Feeling happy with myself, but still unable to shake the haunting memory of the old man.

April 15, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment