Our sympathies to Dr Sharon Apopa over the death of her husband, Thomas
Last weekend, Island Notebook presented Part One of a review of Dr Sharon Apopa's new book, “Repossessing Your Inheritance: From the Backside of Adversity to the Presence of God”, co-authored by her twin sister, Sharon Assan.
Just before publication of this story, Dr Apopa's Kenyan born husband, Thomas, died suddenly.
While words cannot assuage her family's grief, Island Notebook extends its deepest sympathies to Dr Apopa and her two daughters, her family in Bermuda and her husband's family in Kenya.
At the book's unveiling, she told of how several years ago she viewed a movie that proposed to answer the question of “what do women want”.
“What troubled me throughout the movie was that although it was cast in the twenty-first century, it had a theme that was centuries old in that the question was being answered for women by men. Men have consistently told women what they should feel, how they should look, what they want and what their capacity was to achieve, since the stone ages.
“Whether through literature, media, music or culture norms, or the Sunday sermon, messages about who we are and whose we are, have emanated through the thoughts and voices of men, shaping for better or for worse the identity of the female.
The foregoing is just part of the introduction to ‘Repossessing' by Dr Apopa.
She's the Executive Director of the Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute, or MAWI, which for generations was known by many loose titles referring to it as the country's Mental Hospital.
Destigmatization of that institution and mental illness has been just one of the passions of Dr Apopa.
As a reviewer, this writer is obliged to affirm that this is a fascinating, well written book, simply, clearly taking us back to the beginning of time with the Biblical references, reminding how God Almighty created man and woman from the earth.
And how the earth became our ‘inheritance' and as earthlings, from Adam and Eve man and woman has had to struggle against the threat of dispossession of our inheritance, of our peace and prosperity, by Satan and the forces of darkness.
We are all ‘earth' and each of us has our stories of the ravaging and vandalising of our earth bodies, as the authors show.
There are many passages in this book's 300 pages that made it difficult to put it down. In a nutshell it is about the travails and triumphs of twin sisters Caron and Sharon; the depression, pain and tears over sexual abuse, addiction combined with life stories of women they served in their thirty plus years, years as Christian therapist up, until and beyond Caron's untimely death; mother of a daughter, in her early fifties.
Depression, the twins concluded is one of women's biggest enemies; one of the major mental issues confronting women today.
In their practice they discovered there was a relationship between women's suppression of trauma and depression and once they were able to release the secrets from their past and understand that while bad things had happened to them, they were not bad people.
Many became free and no longer required medication in order to cope.
And with the blueprint of Caron and Sharon, the hope and expectation of the authors for women is that as they take their places in society as mothers, educators, heads of corporations and governments, they can do so with the knowledge that they have recaptured their true identities and are fulfilling their true purpose, having a compass, a guide of how to find their way back to the Land of their inheritance.
One of the most engrossing segments of this book that gripped this writer reveals how Sharon and Caron were only two, the youngest in fact, of the 12 children born to the Evangelist Reginald Smith and his wife missionary Phyllis Virginia (both now deceased) of Hamilton Parish.
There were three gifted sons, and nine similarly gifted girls, all achievers in heir own rights.
‘Phyl' was pregnant with her tenth child. Eight girls had arrived in succession during the previous pregnancies.
Along came number ten, a boy, upsetting somewhat the highly organised equanimity and equilibrium of the girl side of the Smith home.
Neighbours had long ago wondered how the Smith fitted into the small five room cottage.
Before long Phyl was again pregnant, causing the lady the family nicknamed as ‘Mrs Nosy Parker' to enquire straight forward, “You are not going down again are you, Phyllis?”
She was in her fourth month when the doctor confirmed the news to the expectant mother.
She had not yet told her husband, and when she did they decided to call a family meeting, allaying suspicions of one or two of the elder sisters.
A heavy round of speculation was touched off in the family as to whether Number 11 would be a boy or girl.
The modern technology of gender determination had not then reached Bermuda.
One sister noted for her gift of making prophetic declarations maintained it maybe twins.
That sister was correct. Along came Number 11, none other than Sharon, followed by Caron Laquita on September 23, 1956.
The twins were inseparable., with gifts formed in their mother's womb. Their intellectual pursuits were formed of their older siblings' own passion for knowledge.
Caron's secular training began at Prospect Primary School in 1961, continued at Sheffield Hallam University in the United Kingdom until March 16, 2009. where she was a Doctoral Candidate.
In the meantime she had qualified as a State Registered Nurse, earned a diploma in Supervisory Management, and among other things achieved a double Master's Degree in Human Resource Development and Management.
Sharon, Number 11 of the 12 children did not complete her secondary schooling.
She had built a personal relationship with the Lord from age five. She was exposed at an early age to the pain and suffering of many of her friends.
And it was from those experiences she vowed to become a social worker. In 1981 she earned a Master's Degree in Social Work, and then her Doctorate.
As I wrote earlier, “Reposing Your Heritage” is a great book with profound appeal to women and men alike, we all being ‘earthlings.'
Thomas Ambrose Ofafa Apopa was born in Ukwala, Kenya in 1956 and came to Bermuda in the early 1980s with his Bermudian bride, the former Sharon Smith after they met at West Virginia University where he obtained a Business Administration degree.
He worked for the Bank of Bermuda for 20 years full time, and a variety of jobs in hotels — one job for his Bermuda family, and one for his Kenyan family, he would say.