Saturday, October 15, 2016


L to R:  Jeff, Mario, Ralph and Jim smoke a nice cigar to celebrate Mario's Retirement last week -- at lunch break

This year, on December 29, Mario and I will celebrate twenty-nine years of marriage.  The only relationship that Mario has sustained longer than this one is with the State of California – for which he has worked 35 years.  Now this relationship is about to change – Mario is retiring.

Saturday was the day to clean out his office, since Monday will officially be his last day at California’s Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training.   This morning, he texted me to say that everything that belonged to him was now cleaned out of his office space and that he was on his way home.  Knowing that he would be driving into the garage and unloading a car-full of personal items, I scrambled to make space.  In my head, I  knew what he would be bringing home: his painting of a South African winery, an assortment of snacks, a table-top fan, freshly laundered shirts, framed photographs, etc. I still remember him packing up those personal items to take to POST when he re-entered the workplace three-and-a-half years ago.

After we found places to store the personal boxes in our garage, we hugged.

“I don’t know how to feel,” Mario sighed.  “I have so many mixed emotions.”

I nodded.  When others would be jumping up and fist pumping the sky, Mario is entering retirement more than a little conflicted.  On one hand, retiring makes perfect financial sense and provides Mario with the freedom to teach in a police academy or community college.  He can serve as a subject matter expert without a conflict of interest or bias.  Yet, on the other hand, Mario will miss POST.  Changes in life bring all kinds of unanswered questions.  

Saturday morning brought an unlikely one: “What am I going to do now?”

I almost laughed.  Mario does not exactly sit still.  He is purposeful and driven in everything he does. He has worked hard to achieve the level of mastery and expertise that he has now. He has pioneered new things, developed as an employee and as an employer, and learned how to lead during turbulent times. 

When we left for South Africa in 2007, he really thought he was retired for good.  We were blessed enough to have a chance at fulfilling a dream to move to South Africa and work for God, joining a team that supported existing churches all over Africa.  We also joined forces with a local church in Johannesburg that became our church home for seven years. 

Preaching in Mozambique - 2008
When we realized that we were returning to the United States in 2013, Mario was asked to return to POST and serve as a retired annuitant. He appreciated the return, especially in the aftermath of a life change, transitioning from one continent to another; moving from full-time ministry back into his chosen profession of law enforcement.  After some thought, he officially “un-retired” and continued on as if he never left.

Mario with the "Road Warriors" from the TDC Bureau 
For the last eighteen months, Mario has worked as a Bureau Chief for Learning Technology Resources at POST, a job he takes very seriously.  Supervising the bureau that develops and applies technology to law enforcement training, Mario comes home raving about his employees.  Much of his work has been building teams, or supporting existing ones.  Even when he’s working by himself he strives to bring people together –or recognize their talents.  What has made him successful in ministry has also made him successful in the workplace.  It is also what has made him successful as a person. 

LTR celebrates 90,000 on the Learning Portal
L to R:  Jan M., Mario, Catherine, Jan B., Larry, Trish, Rich, and Ron.

 Mario actually  started as a State Park Ranger, straight out of the police academy when he was twenty-two years old. Last Monday he celebrated 35 years of service to the people of the State of California, working 17 years with State Parks and 18 more with POST.

Ranger Rodriguez - After Graduation 1977
 In this climate of political uncertainty, and with a public perception of police being so mixed, leadership is incredibly important.  Mario is an exceptional leader –and I’m not saying this just because I’m his wife. I actually used to work for him, when he was the supervising Ranger of Carnegie SVRA and I was a lowly Park Aid.  I remember feeling safe with him.  His leadership was solid and authoritative, but contained a humility that was extremely comforting. 

Mario's Fist POST Portrait.  Handsome!

To this day, I still see Mario as my boss – my leader. I am an avowed feminist, but there is nothing that makes me feel better than the leadership of a man who knows what he is doing.   Today, when he came home, I looked in his eyes and felt such pride and so much sympathy for his conflicted heart – at the same time.

“Why don’t you lay down?” I answered, after he asked me his question. “Rest first and then later you can sort all this stuff out.” 

I sometimes I say pretty wise things without even meaning to. 

I love you, Babe!  xoxo

The Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training(POST) leads the nation in Training and Development.  It was established by the Legislature in 1959 to set minimum selection and training standards for California law enforcement. The POST organization, with more than 130 staff members, functions under the direction of an Executive Director appointed by the Commission.  Click here to see their website.  If you look  you will find him as a Bureau Chief -until October 18th, when he will be removed.  

Tuesday, October 4, 2016


Mario calls them “The David Shots.”  They are a series of pictures that he took with a new SLR camera the day that his first son was born – the day that changed his life forever.

When Cathy went into labor, Mario took her to Monterey Peninsula Hospital in a very interesting way.  Since it was their first child and Mario didn’t know what to expect, he loaded his wife into his patrol vehicle and proceeded to the hospital code-3.  “I flipped the lights and siren on and we took off for the hospital!”

David was born soon afterwards, and Mario began taking pictures and couldn’t stop.  He must have had forty or fifty prints – the days before digital –from high-quality film.  

Looking at the old prints now, I smile.  Their rounded corners and faded colors betray their age, but the memories of them are deep in Mario's heart.  The one above, taken when the Olympic torch was passing, is one of my favorites of father and son.  
Don't worry, Joe.  It's almost your turn! 

Today David turns 37 years old.  

I still gasp and hold my heart, unable to digest the fact that David is a grown-up with kids of his own.  I can still remember the soapy smell of  him at the Kaypro, freshly bathed and begging me for more time on the computer before he went off to bed.  I still remember the years in Arnold, chasing the boys around Big Trees State Park.  I remember his graduation, his wedding, the birth of his first child and the day he sold his company to Hewlett Packard.  

Life goes by so quickly, I know it is a cliché, but it does.  

David with Lauren, 2014

Today David is a husband and a father, the roles he loves and inevitably define him.  He is also something of a subject matter expert in communication systems. 

David is my step-son, but he’s really more than that.  Mario and I officially tied the knot just after he turned eight, so I feel closely connected to him.  He is a deep thinker and a wonderful communicator.  He grew up with a vibrant sense of humor and a strong personality.  In our blended family, David was the eldest son and proved to be a leader to his siblings.  Today, he still has a way of connecting with us.  He is a son who remembers to call his parents, and keeps inside of the life of his extended family.  This year has been an amazing, eventful time and he has grown more as a man than ever before.  I pray that God be his strength every day.

When people ask me about David, I tell them that he is strong, funny, and great to have in our family.  We love him.  We are proud of him.  We miss him.

Happy Birthday, David.  If only words were sufficient to tell you how treasured, you are in our hearts! We love you!!  

Just for fun!  Mario took this picture of himself the day that the guy on the right was born!