My late Mother was a complex woman to say the least, God rest her soul. She often expressed her need to find “peace of mind”, particularly in her final years. A concept I hope we all would agree is paramount to enjoying the human experience, regardless of which side of the aisle one might choose. Yet the moral of this story is not about her quest for peace, but her tendency towards anger. Anger directed towards people who differ in opinion, fail to listen, or understand. A trait I seemed to have inherited to some extent, and so rampant in our society today, particularly when it comes to politics.
It was 1996 and I was heading north for a summer vacation on Lake George near my original home town, Glens Falls, NY. My Mother (and third husband Jack), still resided there, as well as two brothers. I was on the verge of a career change, after working for 3 international medical device companies, and escaping the heat of corporate America as well as the humidity in Mobile, AL, was priority one. The relationship I had with my Mom, Nancy, had been strained since I left home at 17, but as the years passed and her health deteriorated, I tried my best to let her know I loved her, regardless.
No problem, I had hoped as I made the long flight from Alabama to Albany, NY. No problem, as then President Bill Clinton and co-President wife Hillary had set in motion changes to the healthcare industry still reverberating today. All 3 of the companies I had worked for were forced to re-organize or were acquired. HMO’s and managed care, attempts to “reduce cost” were failing abysmally. Immigration was a big issue of the day, yet it was politics as usual at the white house, as President Clinton talked a good game and did nothing, other than chase interns around the oval office. Yet another slick politician who left Americans wondering about all that “Change” we were promised.
As we arrived at the outdated, 1950’s style “shot-gun” motel, it was obvious that the politics of the Clinton era and my career change was not the only problem. My room overlooked a narrow parking lot, and the run down motel next door. The décor was circa old school NYC pizza parlor with a dash of early 1970 lime green Brady bunch. It was complemented with the musty smell of damp carpet and cheap air freshener.
I approached the middle aged co-owner, the Mrs. of the operation, and reminded her of my request for a room facing the lake, my phone conversation with her husband, and the demand for a check to be mailed. Her husband was summoned with a harsh and loud call in her native tongue. Mr. Gaspero quickly appeared and began motioning frantically like he was swatting mosquitos or signally a plane to land in his parking lot.
As he rushed to show me another room, 2 doors down from the one they had “reserved” for me, still facing the parking lot, it was obvious something was lost in translation. I could see my Mother pacing as the proprietors now double teamed me, selling it like a carnival barker. Out of the blue, as I declined their multiple offers to “take the room so you like” and requested my deposit back, my Mother shot out her now infamous statement. With her face full of anger and her hands shaking, she screamed…
“WHY DON’T YOU GO BACK TO YOUR OWN COUNTRY”!!!
I don’t recall much after that as Jack and I escorted her into the car, before Mrs. Gaspero went Soprano on her. I didn’t understand a word she said, as she was visibly upset by the comment, but her tone spoke volumes. I do remember her screaming “Vai al diavolo!” which I later learned meant, “Go to hell!”. Anger, had infected both sides, and nothing was achieved, other than ill will, as we trotted off to find another place for me to stay.
My Mother was not a racist, she was just an emotional and often angry women. If you crossed her, debated her, opposed her, frustrated her in traffic, she reacted. It ruined her life, our relationship, and her relationships with many other family members.
Perhaps we need to remember the words of Stephen Covey, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood”, before we scream out in anger (Profit Advisors).
I believe uncontrolled anger killed my Mother. First her marriages failed, and then her relationships with her children failed. Finally, her health failed, as the anger she projected destroyed her mind and body. She rests now forever, back in her own country, and I know, it is a much better place than we have here on earth. I miss her often, and try to remember her beautiful heart, her singing, her laughter, her love, and wish she never had to experience any anger, only the peace of mind she so desired.
Nancy (Fish) Farnsworth – May 9, 1937 – May 24, 2001:
He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit, then he who captures a city. (Proverbs 16:32)