The Parking Lot

Wednesday morning. Early. Open parking lot. Traffic humming by on the street. One car pulls up and waits. A second car pulls in a few minutes later and a small boy emerges. As the man from the first car is making his way towards the second car, the boy is running. Arms wide open, excited and hungry for the arms of his Father. Hugs of a broken heart, of feeling what he doesn’t understand. Hugs with no concepts concerning time, where a week feels like a lifetime. Hugs of maybe not enough time to ever heal this pain and heartache.

The Mother from the second car gets out and patiently waits; giving the Father and Son their moment. No smiles or frowns from behind her big sunglasses. She just watches and waits. Part of her broken heart is in those tear-stained hugs of this sad weekly ritual.

The man and the woman talk. She points out how slim he looks. He pulls open his jacket to verify. He may be flattered but he also knows firsthand how sorrow can strip a person’s weight in a hurry. They speak briefly, exchange a few papers. Hand gestures but no anger from my silenced point of view. No waves goodbye, they just walk away ….again. They thought the first time they walked away would be the toughest, but now with the little boy getting older and clinging more, it becomes apparent that this new life is tougher. Heavy stuff. Sad stuff to witness and sadder still to be the one involved.

They have chosen this parking lot to make their weekly exchange. Half way I guess from the old place to whomever had to move out. They exchange the boy, the best thing they ever had in their world. The most loved. She tussles his hair and watches him get into the Fathers car.

I have chosen a parking lot such as this in past years. I have pulled up with degrees of resentment, pain and confusion. Blame for the other and just as much blame for myself. I have hugged so tight as if to never let go. I still don’t want to let go. It can still draw tears. Divorce doesn’t have to be the worst event of someones life but I will say without a doubt that when our children are involved it will be a wound that never totally heals. Perhaps we learn to live with our regrets and pains. We learn to mask and cope, but make no mistake, these sorrows shape us.

I hope you or I never have to choose a parking lot somewhere in between what should have been forever and what will never be again. I hope we can see the beauty of tending our gardens, and giving our children the best of ourselves. And if we do, I hope forgiveness begins on our own tongue and ends with the ones we’ve hurt. I will be looking for this family again next Wednesday. To see them is to see myself and to see myself is a reminder that hope and forgiveness loom large and are sometimes brought down to a single hug. A clutching moment in time where love is all that really matters, and the wish that this hug would never end.


The Gumbo Child

pensacola sign

A few years ago I wrote a lyric that my friend Brad Ford helped me turn it into a song. I was thinking of home, the Florida Gulf Coast, city of five flags and of its diverse history.

pcola sound

“The home of my heart is on these white sands , where the north shore laps against this southern land. Santa Rosa breezes are always freeing me from the chains I feel but cannot see….I’m just a Gumbo Child, rollin’ flowin’ with the tides, waves rollin’ in and they subside. With the pull of my soul and another ride…for the Gumbo Child”.


The people make up this land. It is always that way. Here, Native Americans, English, Spanish and French were the ealry ones, and now it’s a big  pot of good tastin’ Gumbo ! I suppose most places in the good ole US of A could lay claim to that. Pensacola seems even more so with a longer history (Americas first settlement by the way), with it’s ethenic blends, Pentecostal roots mixed with tourism, Armed Service folks, rednecks, laid back beach lovers and just about anyone else that wanders down to our beaches and never leaves ! Who could blame them. I wasn’t the first one there and so I can’t say who gets to be the last.

Lifeguard Truck Pcola Feb2013

“Cowboy hats and old surfboards, Crawfish boils and half ton Fords. Marley music ain’t no surprise under a full moon Hank Williams sky….Just a Gumbo Child, goin’, flowin’ with the tides, waves rollin’ in and they subside. With the pull of my soul and another ride…for the Gumbo Child” !


Isn’t the diversity in us as a people and even within our own selves, that makes us interesting? I think so. I love culture, mine as well as anothers. Living and learning about that makes us stronger, not weaker. Makes us unite more and divide less. For how many of us can say we are full blood anything? It’s getting more and more rare these days. And if we are all the children of One Creator, then what difference does it make? Just because we want to learn of and live with other cultures doesn’t mean we have to let go of ours!

Just a Gumbo Child, goin’ , flowin’ with the tides, waves rollin’ in and they subside….with the pull of my soul and another ride… for the Gumbo Child” !!

I think we should all embrace our inner Gumbo, what do ya say? !!








Just Because You Can

Is it because I am getting older? Is it because I’ve matured?, I know, ha ha! Is it because somewhere along the line the value of true manners and good tatse were instilled in me, and the notion of “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should” was burned into my brain.

Since I was a child one of my biggest challenges has been my profane tounge ! I do say this with a little wink and smile because on the big list of No-No’s, its not that big a deal. Sounds like a guy making excuses ! BUT, there is a discipline missing and is that some of what I’d say we are misssing in our world of Pop Culture. Language and crassness doesn’t make me blush and I don’t think of myself as a prude but I do think there is something, growing even in me, about good taste. It just seems that the trashier you are and especially if you can do it on TV then the more popular you are.

Some people might think it’s the sign of being an adult that they can say and act any way they want, but perhaps it’s the sign of maturity that you choose to not exhibit your pooerest choices.

I hope the pendulum will swing back the other way. Or maybe I can work on my own pendulum swinging back the other way. I guess I’m further down the road where less is more, where quietness feels better than noise and hopefully the teachings of my youth are ringing truer than ever.