Who or what is important to me? Though this seems like such a simple question with a simple answer, it’s one that took me forever to figure out – figuratively. Though I did do it last minute compared to other essays or writings I’ve done before. So, who or what is important to me and why? I picked my brain trying to decide the answer to this. I had friends joke and recommend I write about cats since I’m such a cat-lady (which I admit with pride, thank you very much). I then had to take what felt like a ten minute break, and ended up being a three hour break, and figure out what exactly is something important to me to worth writing about. My choice? A person who I wouldn’t be here today without and who I admire more than anyone… Even though she is basically an older version of me.
From the time I came to live with her at the amazing age of only five months old, through my toddler and tiny tot days, past my bratty childhood, all the way up until now – where I am completely sorry she has to deal with the sass, me being rude most of the time, and the incessant need to talk about Supernatural at the most inappropriate moments. My Meme, whom most know as either Sonya Norman or Short, is one woman I've always wished to be and have around in my life. And I know now, as I’ve grown, that she won’t always be around, but she’ll always be the biggest part of my life. Even though I have parents and I have best friends who are there for me, having someone be my parent, my best friend, my confidante, and so much more – basically having a Meme is the best thing. And she’s more important to me than she even realizes, probably. During our off days where we argue over misheard words or one of us being too cranky for the other, she is still someone I wouldn’t leave behind no matter what.
In my early years I remember how I would stay with my dad, cry for him, all that kiddy junk since, you know, he’s my father and all that. I had to be raised knowing he was the one who brought me in to this world and that he was a crucial part of my world. But when I’d be around him and away from my Meme for too long… I’d cry over not seeing her. A favorite memory relating to that is as follows: It was summer and my Papa was asleep in his room, my uncle and dad probably asleep, too. But there I was – up and ready to take on the world. By that I mean I was determined to say “goodbye” to my Meme before she left for work. I still don’t know why I made it so important to tell someone goodbye or tell them I love them, but I always had to and if she would leave without as much as a word between us, I’d cry… literally. I would sit down and cry to myself and think the world was falling in on me and that life was over. I have a journal entry – it was actually written on the inside of my Precious Moments Bible – of how my Meme was the best and always would be and I loved her so much. In my tiny world of being about six or seven, and that terrible handwriting, I made a point that in that moment I cared for one person more than anyone else in the world. It was something I carried with me through elementary and until now, and I will keep carrying it throughout my lifetime.
From those small memories of crying over Meme leaving without a “goodbye”, I do have memories of us fighting or me being such a brat to push her buttons. I have fonder memories of her helping me raise a good twenty thousand cats and even letting me do research on them and print it out at her work. I was a weird kid. It was literally a gift of mine to tell someone ten thousand facts regarding domesticated cats and then another hundred over a specific type of feral cat. My Meme helped me to read and write and communicate, so the blame for not shutting up since the day I uttered my first words lies in her hands. Thanks, Meme, for teaching Motor-mouth Zoe to talk all those years ago. I’m pretty sure after the first couple of years you would of wished I had no vocal cords. Even in my case I can re-watch old videos or read my old journal entries and judge myself for being so odd and talking about the weirdest things. I’m glad I was such a shy child, otherwise there would be people out in the world with that one faint memory of a tiny child telling them about how mongooses are actually related to meerkats down the line and farther on you can find them related to anteaters.
"Now, as I near the age where I drift off to college and begin my life as a legal adult, I can look back at these precious memories and at the lessons learned from such an important lady and be thankful."
I’m thankful for those amazing typing skills you gave me. I used to be amazed at how you could type on the typewriter without a mistake and it’d take me all day to even spell a word without a mistake. Then there were the lessons on not bringing strays or forest critters into my room – but that never stopped me. I had wild cats, turtles, crawdads, one snake, nearly a chicken, and many more little things in my room at one point in time. I even hid two kittens in my drawers and cried one year when my crawdads froze after I left them outside in a jar. But I know now that creatures born outside do, indeed, need to stay outside under any circumstance because I don’t tolerate mud or germs coming into my house until I have learned what the varmint actually is; a fine example would be that snake I mentioned earlier.
To anyone who has someone like this in their lives, I say to hold them close for as long as possible. Even when you two fight. Even when it is three in the morning and you get sick, if you need to call them, you call them. Even when you’re the one at fault, apologize. I have friends who are important to me that I try to keep close. And though the actual term “the blood of the pact is thicker than the water of the womb” or as you false-believing people know it as “blood is thicker than water”, I believe that a pact was made between both me and my Meme at some point where we agreed to never part ways. Family over friends, they say, and yet I disagree with a majority of my family compared to friends… I still will most likely choose my Meme over any of my friends. Sorry, not sorry on that one.
Over the past few years, while my life has taken a zig-zagging path all over the place, I’m glad that my Meme has been there through-and-through. This enhances the point that she is, by far, what is important to me in life. Because without her, these years would be torture and in a nutshell: Hellish. I learned to get over the fear of needles, and she still hates them, but she held my hand anyways. I learned to be independent and that you can only trust those closest to you, like my Meme, as she has learned the same lesson with me. I got to witness the deaths of my Papa, Pa, Nannie, and our many animals, and it left her and I with only each other and a couple others; she and I live together, so technically it is just us two most of the time. If she didn’t have me, she’d be alone, and I’d probably still abandon my dad for her. Sorry, Dad. But I learned strength from her, and I learned to move forward, even if that means not moving on from something that has impacted your life in such a way. I found my wings to fly and had my Meme help me with just that. So, in short, she has helped me overcome so much and deal with things in such a good way, and without her there for me… how would I actually be right now?
For a woman so determined to do good, to be there for everyone even though most people aren’t there for her – she is brave, and trustworthy, and full of emotion. What she lacks in height, she makes up with her love and the motherly nature that all comes from her big, fat heart. She is talented musically and with her fancy typing skills (and shorthand writing skills at that), and though she thinks she is nothing special or important to anyone, I hope she forever knows that to me, this stubborn and forever back talking child would be God-knows-where without her. She taught me the value of importance. She and I both share the sad gift of keeping sentimental things with us forever, and when the time comes for me to let her go, like she let her own mother go not long ago… I will be there crying, and rambling on about how my inner-hoarder needs to keep her forever. And since I come off as creepy a lot of the time, I expect there to be judgment with that last line, but here I am… not caring.
I know that everyone has a significant other, or a pet, or a job, or a best friend to hold them down to Earth. I know that with their loves, that is all that matters. With their jobs, they would do anything for it. With a pet, you only have about 20 years together and you two can’t even properly communicate but there’s all that love anyways! Anyone can relate on my level about how I am with my meme – and no matter what jokes come out of it (I hint this to my dad and uncle) I am okay with being considered a “Meme’s girl”. I am spoiled, I am a brat. I was born and raised as a tomboy in a tiny countrified town. I love animals too much. I enjoy stories and movies. I can’t wrap my head around the fact that I’m losing every moment of my teen years as time moves forward. And who all taught me these ways and how to be? Though she didn’t mean to, or probably didn’t consider the fact I’d put on her flip flops and follow in her size-6 footsteps until I became old enough to stand on my own; I thank her. I value anything important to me and nothing screams “important” more than my Meme does. Take that in a figurative sense and not a literal one though, because she’s not literally out there screaming “important” and drawing embarrassing amounts of attention to herself. She’s not that crazy. Though she and I both have a knack for being crazy a lot fo the time. It’s the memories and moments I love and value that I can never get back or create – I find the value of her importance more special than any non-living item sitting around my bedroom such as my phone or even my stuffed teddy bear I’ve had since I was only a couple months old.
Who or what is important to me and why? Sonya Gaye Norman, a widow, a mother, a kooky best friend, a lover of all things animal, and a crossword doer. She’s my Meme. She has so much left to offer the world and me alone. No matter how much I say it or how obvious it could be, she’ll never know just how important she is to me.
© Copyright 2018 ZoePatterson. All rights reserved.
What can mothers teach us? Just about everything, it turns out — from how to make an omelet to fending off bullies, making friends and, yes, even influencing people.
Young readers from Brooklyn to The Bronx and beyond responded to our annual Mother’s Day essay-writing contest with humor and heart. Let their letters inspire you to thank the supportive women in your lives this Sunday and every day.
The angel of the ICU
When I was in the hospital having heart-valve surgery, my mom was always there. She was the first face I saw when I opened my eyes and the last face I saw before I fell asleep. She would always ask if I needed anything, if I wanted to play a game or do an arts and crafts project, and she would read to me when I had too many wires connected to me to move. If I was in pain she would always try and help, and when that failed, she distracted me by making me laugh (they say it is the best medicine). And when she ran out of tricks, and when we were allowed, we visited other children in the ICU. On one visit, we met Max, a 2-year-old and a HUGE Patriots fan. He was waiting for a new heart for a year. Even when we left the hospital, my mom remembered Max — she [sent him] a football signed by Rob Gronkowski and Tom Brady of the Patriots.
The doctors made me better. But if you ask me, I think they got a lot of help from my mom.
— Julia Kostin, 10, Manhattan
My role model
Mother’s Day only comes once a year, but to me, Mother’s Day is celebrated every day. It’s not just the joy of receiving shoes, necklaces, rings and etc. It’s the moments we share together.
Every child wishes for that perfect mom that does everything right. If it turned out like that, we would never learn and be ready for the future. As I grow up, I am getting taller, wiser and stronger. I hope to be as good a mom to my children as my mom is to me.
— Kyanna Gumbs, 12, Brooklyn
Be a dreamer!
My mom wants me to be what my dreams told me to be. My mom says, “You don’t want to be a nobody in life. You want to be visible, not invisible . . . let people know you are smart and show them your talent.”
— Desean Steele, 11, Brooklyn
It starts with breakfast . . .
When I was little, my mother had a lot of rules for me to follow, from keeping the house clean to making her breakfast in the morning. I never understood why she was so strict. I hated all her rules. But now that I am older, I understand — she was teaching me how to take care of myself. For example, she made me make her breakfast just about every day, and not depend on other people to feed me. I am now cooking big meals for my family. Even though nobody agrees with me, I think I cook the best in the house . . . She really does know best, because everything she told me so far has been true.
– Kamal Wiggins, 18, The Bronx
‘I wonder if she knows how much I love her’
My mom turns 16 this Wednesday, and you know why? She does not see herself as getting older, just younger with some old traits. It’s weird, but I love it, just like I love her . . .
Moms are normally the ones that embarrass us, the ones that cook bad food, or the ones that are cheap. However, my mom only embarrasses me to lighten a mood, her food is always good, and she’s not cheap — she just shops wisely.
I don’t know whether or not she knows how much I love her but I do. Sometimes, a mother knows best, even when you don’t think she knows. You should never wait to tell your mother you love her or to appreciate her. You only get one biological mother, and before anything happens to her, at least let her know how much you care. I love my mom no matter how weird, old or sad she gets.
— Christopher Anthony Clarke, 17, Manhattan
Watching my footsteps
When my mother was my age, she didn’t have anyone by her side to sit down and talk to her. To this day, my mom holds me to a high standard, as she wants me to be the first in the family to attend and graduate college . . . My mom tells me what is right, wrong or what I need to improve on. She is always standing by my side and watching the footsteps I take. I stand here today and can say that I am more mature and take my education seriously. I recommend that all children listen to their parents — especially their mothers, as they know what is the best for you now and beyond in your life.
— Jackson Amankrah, 17, The Bronx
Break eggs, not hearts
I learned how to make an omelet by watching my mom, and she told me not to care about other people unless they are nice to you. She taught me how to write e-mails.
— Liora Brown, 6, Long Beach, LI
Meet the Heat!
The advice my mom gives me is: Get an education and keep my head up and stay strong. This is important because when I get older, I get to be whatever I want and achieve good grades. I also think it’s important because when I get older, I would be whoever I want — and what I dream of is to be a basketball player and meet all the people on the Miami Heat, like LeBron James.
— Kaseem Small, 12, Brooklyn
She had a second chance, and took it
My mother was born and raised in Guinea, Africa. When her parents passed away at the age of 18, she lost all hope of going back to school. As a result, she got married early. With the help of my father, she was able to move to America a few years ago. She noticed that, unlike her hometown, [here] she had a second chance to get an education. She went back to school to get her GED and become a home health aide.
She reminds me every day that if not for her determination to go back to school, she wouldn’t be in the position she is in today. She says that knowledge is unlimited and one can’t stop learning. This helps me do my very best in everything. I hope that one day she applauds me for taking her advice.
— Adjara Camara, 16, the Bronx
‘We were rich in love’
One of the most important lessons my mom taught me was to give back. When me and my brothers were younger, my mom would always take us to community activities at the church and include us when donating to the local food pantry or Salvation Army. She would always encourage us to donate little things, such as our thousandth stuffed animal. She knew [our toys] meant something to us, but to many kids less fortunate than us, they would mean the world . . .
Even when the economy was really bad, I remember my mom saying that we were “rich in love.” It didn’t matter what kind of money we had — we always had more than others in the way we lived happily together. My mom was able to teach me and my brothers that the power of happiness reigns over anything, and that giving back to others will not only make you feel better that you have done something good, but would give kids who didn’t have a lot a reason to smile!
— Elizabeth Kiewra, 15, Northport, LI
She helps me be me
My mother has always told me to try my hardest and be myself. She always helped me understand that no matter how many people tell me I can’t do it, I should try my hardest to prove them wrong. Any time I come home from school and feel a little let down, she always tells me, “Don’t let words bring you down. Be yourself and try your hardest and you’ll be all right.”
— Zyionna Greene, 10, Brooklyn
M is for motivation!
My mom — the strongest woman I know. She is, at many times, both the mother and father in my life . . . Although I do not ask for much as I am getting older, she still surprises me with gifts and many other things that I truly adore. Everything I receive from her is a blessing . . .
My mother has been through so many things. She has had multiple jobs, we have moved to many other places, and she always has to get up early to go to work. Her discipline inspires me to do better in school so that one day I am able to return all of the favors she has done for me. My mother is amazing and my biggest motivator, and I love her for that.
— Raul De La Rosa, 17, Manhattan
Just a grandmother? Try superwoman!
She is like the big, comfy couch that I sit in, curl up in and fall asleep in sometimes because it has the perfect creases and cushions that comfort any body shape I make in it . . . She is like Sunday evenings with her cooking, that always seems to wake me up as I hear the spoon swirl in the steaming pot. She is a superwoman unseen, because in everyone else’s eyes, she is just a grandmother. She is there to console me when another bonehead broke my heart, and she reminds me how much she loves me without saying so — she uses the ingredients of time, love and thought in her delicious Sunday dinners.
Teachers understand and admire my work ethic and attitude in and out of the classroom. When a teacher mentions this to me, the first person that comes to mind to thank is my superwoman — my grandmother.
— Victoria Rodriguez, 16, Manhattan
I think mothers have a gift of knowing who our real friends are. After giving birth, are mothers told, “Oh hey, by the way — you have this power . . .”?
OK, maybe there are days I get mad at her for little things, such as not getting [me] something I would like. But who’s there to push me on the path I should be on? Who’s there to say, “Flaca, you can’t give up!” My mom always told me, “Be careful who you put your trust in and tell your secrets to. Nobody is always who you think they are.” It’s the most important advice I could have ever gotten. Thanks, Mom, for everything!
— Cynthia Cruz, 18, Manhattan
Bullied no more
I’ve learned a lot of things from my mom — practice makes progress, and if you get through the hard, you get to the good. But here’s one thing I learned just by listening to my mom: I learned how to take care of myself.
I used to get bullied a lot. They were hard days. I didn’t have any friends. But when I went to my mom, she changed everything. She taught me how to stand up for myself. And when I stood up to a bully, I didn’t “go overboard” and start bullying back. And here, now, present tense, is a much better place to be than in the past. I don’t get bullied. I have good friends. And I owe almost all of it to my mom!
— Safira Gross, 9, Brooklyn
Make room for daddy! Young writers wanted for our Father’s Day contest
He may not be a Met or Yankee — maybe he doesn’t even play ball. But we’re pretty sure the father figure in your life has done something daring, caring or just cool to make your life better. Make him famous by writing about him in The Post. We’ll run our favorite letters June 14, but we need to hear from you by June 9 at My Dad, Pulse, The Post, 1211 Sixth Ave., NY, NY 10036, or email@example.com. Please include your age, town and daytime phone number.