Annie Get Your Gun

The sight of Emma’s little pink shoe gave me pause for thought. She left it in my car last weekend, and I’d forgotten about it until it became unearthed from beneath a pile of stuff. The sight of it conjured up memories of a busy little preschooler with a mind of her own, a precious child who’s a perfect combination of sugar and spice. Stubborn and strong willed, she’s also affectionate, sweet, and as her mother says, “so stinking cute” that you want to kiss her pretty face all the time.

Anyway, the sight of her shoe might not have affected me quite so much if it hadn’t been this week, the week of my father-in-law’s death…or “passing.” I like the latter term since it connotes a passage from this world to the next. Being around my husband’s family all week has reminded me of the importance of families in helping us find our way through this life. From oldest to youngest, everyone is a part of the network, and everyone counts. Even those who have “gone beyond” are still part of the circle.

I’ll write more about my father-in-law in another post. This morning the muse is leading me to my family, that cast of characters who played a big part in making me who I am. Most specifically, I’m thinking of my Grandmother Padgett, a little lady who, like Emma, was a combination of sugar and spice. Welcoming and generous, she loved having people visit their home and always made sure you had something to eat. She loved to laugh, and even now I can see and hear her as she’d throw back her head and cackle at something. She and my grandfather had lots of “people” from North Carolina, and there were frequently NC guests in their home. Then too, there were dozens of times that they’d travel to Forest City, taking me along with them in the back seat. Good times.

My grandmother also had a salty side, so to speak. At the visitation the other night, one of my cousins reminded me of an incident that spoke volumes about her persistence and determination to get something done. We used to joke and say that MaMa Padgett always wanted things done yesterday, and that mean pronto. My grandfather worked for the railroad, and apparently they lived in housing provided by his employer. In one particular dwelling, there were some problems that needed repair PRONTO.  However, the person in charge of making it happen was dragging his feet, and my grandmother got more than a little miffed.

As the story goes, she found a gun somewhere, marched over to where this person was, and threatened him with bodily injury on the spot if he didn’t come with her and take care of the aforementioned problems. Did he put her off? Call the police? Tell her to calm down? No, he took care of the problems. Now that’s a lady who took care of business! Did I mention that she was a tiny gal? I doubt that she was much over 5 feet tall.

One of the reasons I like the story (sort of) is because it reminds me of something my mother used to say about my sister Ann. Ann’s pretty calm and easy going, like yours truly, but as Mama would occasionally say, “Woe be unto _________  __________ (fill in the blanks) if Ann Padgett ever really gets mad.” I don’t think we have to worry about the  Annie Get Your Gun scenario, but just the same, I’m staying on her good side! She has some of Beatrice’s blood coursing through her veins, and so does little Emma.

Sitting here this morning, I’m suddenly awash in memories of my grandparents, and I’m thinking that I’ll write more about all of them this week. What about you? Has anyone got some family memories to share?

Is Anger Okay?

My sister and I recently had a discussion about anger, and I told her that I sincerely believe that feeling anger is A-okay. It’s a normal human emotion. I also feel that acting on it is okay IF you do it in a managed sort of way. Hitting people, throwing things, having hissy fits, and hurling belittling insults is not a managed sort of way. In fact, I feel assured that having temper tantrums will lose friends and respect…not to mention jobs and perhaps your family.

The key is to express your anger in a way that gets your point across without losing your cool. I don’t have any pat formulas for doing this correctly, but I try to follow Stephen Covey’s advice to keep the courage/consideration balance. You have to have enough courage to speak up for yourself and get your point/anger/hurt/disappointment across, but at the same time you have to have consideration for the other person’s feeling. It’s tough. Just when you want to shake someone or give him (or her) a good tongue lashing, you have to pull back a little. At the same time, if you hold back too much, the other party might not even know you’re annoyed or angry and therefore keep doing whatever he was doing that perturbs you so much.

As Ann and I were talking, I mentioned a quote by Aristotle about anger, but I couldn’t remember it all at the time. I’ve since looked it up: “Anyone can become angry. That is easy; but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way, that is not within everyone’s power. That is not easy.”

A cardinal rule of behavioral psychology is that you teach people how to treat you. Consequently, you owe it to yourself and to others to let them know when they’ve crossed the line. How else will they know? If you’re being taken advantage of, talked down to, or used, get angry enough to take up for yourself. NOW.