In our lives growing up, if we’re lucky, we have a “second mom.” The mom of our friend who takes us under her wing and makes us one of her own. That second mom to me was my Teta Norma Bogoevich. Or Teta Morna as I called her. Norma’s daughter Melanie was, and will always be, one of my best friends. We grew up in the Serbian church together. I was Melanie’s maid of honor in her wedding (Kuma), godmother to her daughter Ashley (Kuma squared) and basically a part of their family. Teta Norma was a single mom who LOVED Melanie so much and did such a good job of raising her. She made sure that Melanie never went without anything: Love, adventure, an appreciation for sports and travel. Norma was fiercely independent, independently fierce and someone who would have your back no matter what. On Sundays, after church, she would take us to the airport for lunch. Those were the days when you could just walk in, take a seat near the window and watch the planes take off. It was my first taste of the world, you know. Watching people come and go, knowing there was something bigger out there for me – more to explore.
When I was in my early teens, Teta Norma took Melanie and me to Acapulco. Three girls on a grand adventure. She let us drink Screwdrivers. She was cool. One of my favorite memories from that trip was parasailing over the beach. I was scared out of my wits, but Norma assured me I’d be okay. As my parasailing adventure was coming to an end, the guys in the boat were signaling me to pull the cord on the parachute, which would gently lower me down into the water. When we started, the cord, of course, was behind me as the parachute was on the beach behind my back. I kept reaching behind me for the flag and couldn’t find it. Panicked, I kept reaching. They were yelling to me in Spanish – which I couldn’t understand – and I could see Norma and Melanie on the beach yelling, “Pull! Pull! Pull!” I saw Norma pulling over her head which made the bell go off in my head saying, “Ahhhhhh! It’s not behind me anymore, it’s ABOVE me because we’re in the air!” So I pulled. The guys in the boat started screaming, “No! No! No!” as I started lowering myself down into the hotels on the ocean shore and not over the water like I was supposed to. They swung back around, got me over the water and I safely landed after what could have been a horrible disaster. But boy did we laugh about that when I got back to the beach. And we laughed about it for many years to come.
Anyone who knows Norma knows that she was an AVID hockey fan. She loved her Wings and she loved Gordie Howe. Melanie just told me a story that when Gordie Howe retired, Norma stopped going to games. So it’s no coincidence that four days after Gordie Howe left for the big ice rink in the sky, Norma followed. My second mom has joined my first mom and has now earned her OWN wings which she so greatly deserved.
Love to my Kuma Melanie, Kuma Ashley and Kum Anthony.
Thank you, Teta Morna, for taking me in, loving me and making such an impression on my life.