Pony Tail and the Parking Lot Prisoner.

countrySometimes in life it’s just more fun to go with the flow. When we are “in the flow” we see more of the humor in things. This past Sunday was one of those perfect spring days, warm and sunny… The kind of day when you just want to enjoy basking in the warm sunshine… and smile

Mary FergusonOn days like this I load my 95 year old mom into her wheel chair and we roll ourselves out of the Nursing home and into their parking lot to catch some rays.

I think from growing up in a cold water flat, during the depression she has always craved the heat.  The hotter the better she always says…

She’s happy to be outside and tells every passerby that she’s an escaped prisoner from the Home, enjoying her last bit of freedom before the warden returns her to jail.  My mother thinks she is pretty funny.  So I call her the prisoner to play along until something happens which shows the importance of vulnerability or more specifically for being open to connecting with people.

While I stand guard with “the Prisoner”  in the Loading Zone outside the entrance way to the Country Health and Rehabilitation Center,  up the driveway walks a young guy holding an infant. The baby is a beautiful baby girl with flaming red hair and her father is a tall, pony tail, 60’s hippie type.

The Prisoner calls out “hey your baby is beauuuutifuul, what’s her name”?

He smiles, heads into the loading zone and responds with a smile… “Mary”.

My mom responds with a smile………..Hey, that’s my name too!

I’m thinking these two are going to break into a chorus of john jacob jingleheimer Schmidt..  When he says… She was named after the Blessed Virgin Mary…

Again she comes back with…… me too! …. She then tells him the story of how her mother prayed to the Blessed Virgin to have a girl and promised if she blessed her with a girl she would name her Mary and dress her in blue dresses (Virgin Mary’s signature color) until she is 7 years old. Which she did…

He responded back with a litany of superlatives about the Virgin Mary, she is the most generous, most virtuous, the best example of godliness, strength, and maternal instinct.

My mom waves her hand to interrupt him and says “the similarities stop there for me”….. Just when I was thinking the conversation is going to start his walk to 1st base… he sends the ball straight to LEFT FIELD…

Pony Tail: Are you Catholic??

Prisioner: Yes…

Pony Tail: Would you like to receive communion?

Prisioner: Sure…..

Pony Tail: (passing the baby) Please hold Mary….

Pony Tail: Let’s pray…Our Father who art in heaven….

The Pony Tailed Preacher and the Prisoner finish a chorus of Our Father and roll in a prayer to the Blessed Virgin. When the prayers complete he offers her a communal wafer from a gold pocket case…which I’m thinking is like a Holy Pez dispenser.

The preacher then turns and offers me communion. Now I know all the rules, associated sins, and protocols from serving nine years of parochial school with receiving communion when you are not in a state of grace.  But…it’s a sunny day and hell…. I’m in the loading zone of a nursing home parking lot guarding my 95 year old mother…I figure that should count as enough grace credit …so I say…… sure!

I hand the red haired baby back to the pony tailed preacher and they both move off into the nursing home… I assume to administer communion to the other prisoners…

We sit together for a moment in silence taking in what the hell just happened…A few minutes later,  my mother leans over to ask. Do you think that was legit?

I say sure…if you can’t get to the church then the church has to come to you…

I don’t know ….she says…not sure if that was legit…

Curious….. I ask… Well then why did you go along with it?

The prisoner smiled and said…Sitting in the loading zone at my age …I’m not taking any chances.

Me: I know what you mean…me neither.


The Rules of Let’s Pretend

Ever listen to how kids make pretend games?
It’s not so much the “Game”  but more the “Rules” that they make up that has caught my attention.

I’m listening to some boys list the rules for Marco Polo…
The “IT” boy has to close his eyes and chase the others who respond “Polo” every time he says “Marco”.. pretty standard rules right?  …  but here is where these boys make the team from Boston Legal look like amateurs.


The rule maker starts with …

  • Whoever is “It” is not allowed to wear goggles….probably because tinted googles can hide your eyes if they are open…seems reasonable……
  • No goggles on your FOREHEAD because that counts as “wearing goggles.”
    Not sure why that counts but I’m guessing it has some strategic advantage… 
  • No getting out of the pool and if you do your out! ” BUT…  if you do get out of the pool…Here he inserts a discrepancy clause in the contract...as long as you cannonball near the “IT” person you are still in the game ….I guess it gives away your location so that is fair, and could be funny since it scares the hell out of the “IT” boy.
  • If you are underwater and miss the call for “Marco!” you get one free pass and don’t have to say “Polo!” But only once… Not sure how this works if in practice the “IT” person is supposed to have his eyes closed.

I’m guessing there is a lot of squint peeking going on here in this game… overall I hear more arguing about the rules and deviation clauses being created than I see actual playing of Marco Polo….like politics is many ways..that’s a rules game that’s not much fun…

Girls on the other hand come at games from a very different perspective…..

Here is what I have heard them saying.

  • OK Let’s pretend our parents are dead …….????
  • Or …Let’s pretend we are orphans because our parents died in a plane crash
    (which is the same our parents are dead but gives them more street cred.)
  • We are Princesses with big castles and pools and yachts
  • AND everyone loves us because we are rich
  • With all the money in the whole entire world
  • We love animals and they love us too..

The girls then spend a lot of time deciding their Princess names (which sound a lot like stripper names) and deciding their ages …which top out at 30… if you are the grandmother princess.  Then comes the costume dress up session … (again highly influenced by the exotic dancing industry).

I don’t know about you but,… Let’s pretend our parents are dead thing I find a little discomforting….and as the father of five girls I’m planning on sleeping with one eye open from now on!  ….And who ever heard of a fairy Princess named Brandi, Candy or Fantasia???  What can we learn from watching our kids at play?

I guess we can learn that …Sometimes playing by so many rules takes away from the time we could/should be playing on the yachts parked outside our castles…

The rules can often be as confusing in the game of life.  So here are some simple ones I would suggest for us parents….

  1. Parents Should Live ….
  2. Parents Should Have Less Rules….
  3. Parents Should Play More (keeping the stripper names and costumes might help)

We don’t have forever…

Recent events in my family have forced me to look at life more closely. Newborn lives are winding up bringing joyful sound, while old lives are winding down bringing a quiet reflection.   The result of these events is a challenge…. A life challenge.

The challenge is …. Don’t waste timewe don’t have forever!


Say what you want, but say it well,

Do what you have always wanted to do .. and do it now (with class).

Focus on what’s important in life
(it’s the only one you get).

Take the time to make it a good run…

It’s more fun that way….

In the end I picture myself…………………

….sliding feet first through the gates of heaven shouting…

“I used every bit of time you gave me, nothing left in the bucket” Thank you Sir!!!

Then in my dress blue uniform, I’ll stand tall and look good…

And if the Army or the Navy should ever look on Heavens scenes ..

They will see the gates are guarded by the United States Marines.. 

marines gates


It’s Spring, time to have a serious talk with myself…

It’s spring in New England and snow is still falling…Mother Nature is at her cruelest in March.  My buddy in Virginia has already mowed his lawn twice while mine has a solid 8 inches of snow pack.  Really???   Come on Spring!

The winter base building phase is over. Spring is here and its time to switch to the build phase, beginning next week. I’m 10 weeks out from my 1st race. My daily routine has taken a back seat to a series of family obligations. Wait…that’s not really true.. I let myself use family issues as the excuse for not sticking to my daily routine and weekly schedule planning.  I’m feeling regret…

“Athletes that want to be fit must suffer one of two things: the pain of a daily fitness routine or the pain of regret.”

So what’s the big deal? What have I lost other than a day here and there?

“Days are expensive and there is no refund. When you spend a day you have one less day to spend. So make sure you spend each one wisely.”

Ok, starting tomorrow Sunday…I will plan out my weekly training goals/schedule, get prepared the night before for the next day and stay on track as much as possible. It will take discipline and focus. Why do you think discipline is going to help you?

“Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.”

You know this like the back of your hand. Disciplined daily schedules and workouts can get stale…   you know they will …. What can I do to keep things interesting?  Get creative.. shake it up, break it up… make it unusual…..

“If you are not willing to risk the unusual with your training routine, you will have to settle for the ordinary in your performance.”

I always seem to start out with a lot of motivation …..but I have learned that it comes and goes. It’s the habit that really makes the difference ….   Creating that daily routine makes the habit.

“Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going, and a habit is nothing more than a few simple disciplines, practiced every day.”

OK …I’m feeling better now Thanks…..

The people you surround yourself with…

Friends, co-workers and family can influence us in many ways. Some are subtle and others happen without us even realizing it. Why should we care? John Rohn a motivational speaker is quoted as having said: “You are the average of the five people you spend the most of your time with.”


So who are your Fab Five? Are they five that you feel should average into your life?

Recently, I had the occasion to spend time with two of my Marine Corps buddies Steve and Mike. Over dinner Steve said “You know we have been friends for over 40 years now”. To be honest it had not occurred to me that we were even that old….as whenever we get together images us as young Marines roll like a movie in my head.

Why have we keep each other in our lives so long…when other friendships have come and gone?  I believe Rohn’s quote has something to do with it. These guys are part of my life’s equation…they bring different qualities that help to sum up who I am today.
The biggest variable in the sum of my life however, is my wife Abby. She is my wife, friend and love.  I am amazed at the ways she influences me every day. My feet would be riddled with holes if not for her… I am blessed to have her in my life.
There are many positive and talented people out there to surround yourself with…. so it would be very difficult for me to settle with just a specific select group. So I’ll take the liberty to modify Rohn’s quote some and suggest the following modification:

“You are the sum of the people you surround yourself with”  And in the words of the Most Interesting Man in the World “Choose Wisely My Friends”…