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“What is going on here?” mother and daughter heard the authoritative voice and perked up to the angry face of Mr. Ankrah standing at the kitchen door, “so I can’t get anything to eat in my own house?”

“Lisa has been under stress. I was helping her sorting things out” Mrs. Ankrah answered as Lisa hurried to the stove to see to the stew.

“What possibly could she be stressed about? I’ve told you not to pamper her. You’ve treated her like a baby for too long she can’t take care of herself at…”

“No! No! Not today” Mrs. Ankrah interrupted her husband angrily; something Lisa hardly saw her mother do, “you won’t come and raise your voice at anybody, and bully us! Our daughter has been dealing with depression for years!

I just found out! How do you think that makes me feel as her mother? Don’t come here and raise your voice. You’re not the only one who has had a hard life, Peter. You can’t continue using that as a reason to be mean and unloving. We’re your family! Please stop hurting us,” Mrs. Victoria Ankrah stormed out of the kitchen, leaving father and daughter alone.

****

Mr Ankrah stepped into the kitchen. He picked up the bottle of anti-depressants standing on the table and read the label silently. He looked up at Lisa again, “Is it true?” his tone was calmer. Lisa nodded awkwardly, unsure of how to respond.

Her father placed the bottle on the table and stepped out of the kitchen. Lisa spent the rest of the time seeing to the food.

That afternoon Mrs. Ankrah ate lunch with Lisa in the kitchen. Her husband ate alone at the dining table. After eating he carried his plate to the kitchen; something he never did, “can we talk?” he inquired calmly after depositing the plate into the sink. Lisa and her mother were sitting at the round table.

Mr. Ankrah pulled a chair and sat with his family, “I need to apologize for the way things have been in our household” he said, “I haven’t been the best example. I realize how most of my actions have affected us negatively and we’re all suffering because of it. I need to be more patient and understanding…”

“And loving” softly Mrs. Ankrah interjected, making eye contact with her husband

“Yes, and loving…” Mr. Ankrah agreed, looking at his wife of over twenty-five years. She was still beautiful. He turned his attention to Lisa, “Lisa, I’m sorry,” he paused briefly and then continued, “You know, when you’re a young man growing up, you’re taught men are supposed to be tough and strong; most of us end up interpreting tough and strong to mean ill-mannered, insensitive and selfish; as long as we get people submitting to our bidding, we think that’s the way things should be. But it’s not.

A strong man is one who ensures there is peace and stability in his family; physically, financially, mentally and emotionally. He ensures they are happy and cared for. He doesn’t insist on his ways; he is open to ideas and he loves. I haven’t lived up to these things and I apologize. We’re going to be a better family from now on. I’m going to be a better man” he took their hands and tightened his grip around their fingers, “I love you” Mr. Ankrah said.

Feeling emotional all over again, Lisa stood up and went to hug her father at his side. Mrs. Ankrah joined in on his other side. It was the sense of unity they dearly needed.

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