My younger brother Tony had not seen our mother for many years until I broke the news to him she was dying of cancer. He had been separated from his wife for a time but gathered his wife and daughter and made the eight-hour trip to our mother’s home. I waited anxiously with two of my girls and Mom. My other daughter Carmen came with her six-year-old daughter to witness the much anticipated, if bittersweet reunion.
Tony, Laura and seven-year-old daughter Brittany arrived safely and came inside to many hugs and a few tears. There were old stories and a lot of laughter that day as everyone pieced together bits of disjointed histories. Our parents had a horrible, abusive divorce but Tony’s visit paved a new future— however long it lasted.
Tony looked around uneasily and not seeing his daughter, became anxious. Carmen’s daughter Candis was missing too. A quick search of my mother’s home located the two offspring safe and— baby powdered! Both girls had bonded instantly and took their mischief where they found it, in the guest bedroom. The powder must have looked funny as it was shaken here and there. The powder was so thick in the air you could hardly see your hand in front of you. The cloud billowed out into the narrow hallway. What a mess!
Looking at my brother Tony I could see he was about to explode. Carmen and Laura were seeing to the “powder girls” so I took Tony out onto the back porch to cool off. He was mad, boiling mad— and embarrassed too! Whether inherited or learned, we grew up under the same roof, with the same parents who both had anger-rage temperaments. We were cut from the same cloth; like two peas in a pod, Tony and me.
The difference between Tony and me isn’t quite visible until you know I became a Parents Anonymous member— a parent who spent more than twenty years trying to overcome extreme anger. Tony did not have the same advantage living on the idyllic coast of North Carolina; he was awash in fury.
With the “powder girls” getting cleaned up safely inside, I talked with Tony about my anger and how it affected my life. I have walked in Tony’s shoes… I told him how I went to Parents Anonymous for help and about some of the parenting tricks and tools I used to prevent me from hurting my own children. I tried Mur’s little trick to get him to see this experience in ten years from the present, and just how funny it would be. That was in 1996, sixteen years ago!
Tony and I still keep in touch. Last week I sent some websites to Tony to read. The next day I got an e-mail with a single-line reply, “When I was looking around I thought about the powder girls in Mama’s place.”