Written by Nathaniel Chambers & Nathanael Collins
Zulima Medina is an incredibly loving and hardworking mother who would do anything for her family.
Her son, Omar, said, “My mom always put family first and has sacrificed so much personally so me, my sister Vicky, and my brother Jimmy could be successful.”
Zulima is a Cuban immigrant who came to the United States in 1961 with Omar and Vicky when they were toddlers. She worked incredibly hard to earn a master’s degree in education from the University of Miami.
Zulima also raised her children as a single mother and often worked two jobs just to make ends meet. She never stopped working hard to give her kids the best lives possible, though, and they both know everything they have and are today is because of the precedent set forth by their mother.
“My mother’s work ethic was incredible,” Omar said. “When studying for her master’s, she didn’t have money for books, so she would go to the library and hand copy the chapters that were being studied, because in those days, copy machines were not ubiquitous.”
Zulima never had it easy, both in the sense of schooling and in the sense of being a mother, but she has found a way to make it all work out.
“She’s always been available to help, not only monetarily, but emotionally,” Vicky said. “Mom has been there for me and the girls, along with my brother’s kids. She had to do it all alone.”
Zulima might not have had a lot of family to fall back on, but she somehow managed to set the example for her kids and grandkids. She has taught them all the importance of family and having each other’s backs, as she did not want them to have to go through the things she went through as a single mother.
And now, as a grandmother, she gets to see everything she has instilled in her children come full circle. Her grandchildren love to take her out and they love having fun with her, and they constantly look back at all the memories they have had at Nana’s house.
“I remember when Nana would give me massages, stating she was rubbing me with ‘mantequilla,’ and I would tell her five more minutes so she wouldn’t leave,” Zulima’s granddaughter Alexandra said.
The grandkids always loved spending time with Nana, and they certainly still do to this day. She has always brought them happiness and joy.
“Francesca says she remembers when mom picked her up at PK 3 and she would go to Nana’s townhouse and tell her Mi that she had to ‘descansar’ before heading home,” Omar exclaimed.
The memories and stories have not been far and few between, and we will get back to them, but we would be remiss to be talking about Zulima and not mention what a great friend she is to people. She is someone that draws people near and dear to her, and anyone knows her truly looks up to her and respects her.
“She has great friends,” Vicky said. “The way she treats other people is with respect. She is a very helpful person. Mom is outgoing. She loves theater and loves movies.”
In fact, it was at a showing of Mission Impossible 3 that Zulima’s son-in-law, Patrick, took her to because she loves Tom Cruise, but he learned an even more important lesson that day…
“That was also the day I learned that Nana doesn’t believe in watching movies with ‘ugly people’ in them. Nana knows so much about beautiful people because she is such a beautiful person.”
Zulima is a gorgeous person both inside and out, and that is something that is noticed by her family.
Another thing that is really noticed by many of them and was highlighted time and time again is her love of anything dealing with acting. That is something Zulima has always been drawn to.
“My special moments were all the times Nana would play Broadway musicals in the car on the way to piano lessons or back home,” her granddaughter Isabella said. “Also, ALL the times she would take me to the Taco Bell by her house!”
Zulima definitely loves song and dance, but more importantly, she loves her family. And they love her back.
They also realize that, while they cannot get back the times they spent with her growing up, they can reflect on those times and cherish them forever.
“When I was a kid, Nana was my number one playmate,” her grandson Xavier said. “My favorite game to play with her was hide and seek… and she would always let me be the one to hide. We would use up the entire house and would play for what felt like hours!”
“Nana would talk and joke with us in between our running around,” her granddaughter Justine added. “It was always a warm and wonderful day, spending it with her around her home.”
All this has been said, and yet the most important thing in the world to Zulima is not her family, but her faith. While her family is definitely right there in second place, she attests that everything she and her family have had in life is because of God.
She loves to read too, and whether this is her Bible or any other book, this is something Zulima and her eldest grandson Dominic have always bonded over.
“I guess I would have said something about her unending quest to seek knowledge. Whether it’s books, art, philosophy, travel. My abuela has a zest for adventure (both externally and internally). She taught me to do the same in my life.”
Zulima loves life and she lives it to the fullest. She has been through a lot, from her children’s father leaving them to her son Jimmy passing away at 33, but she has never let that get in the way of her living the life she was called to live.
Zulima is full of unwavering support and encouragement, and her family and friends are all grateful for who she is and what she has done for them.
“Everything that I am is because my mom is ‘the voice inside my head.’ She once wrote in a card to me to always remember three things: 1. Always believe in a greater power than yourself; 2. No matter how bad things look, there is always someone less fortunate than you, and you should keep that perspective; and 3. As long as you have a book, you will never be alone or bored. Mom, thank you so much for everything. I love you.” – Omar
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