As told by Silveria Jacobs
My mother is Nadia Bryson born Willemsberg, deceased at age 66 on November 5, 2012. I call her mama or ma, most of the time it was ‘mama.’ It was used as a term of endearment, but also exasperation.
I can describe my mother in one word: feisty. She was a very short lady, 5 feet 3 or so, but she was such a strong character and had such a sharp tongue that she could cut a six foot man down to her side. My mother was loving and one of the most generous persons I knew, even when she had little to give, but if you crossed her, you wouldn’t even recognize the sweet little lady whom you’d known previously. She had a strong sense of fairness, family and love and many were drawn to her because of this.
When she was angry, she spoke St. Martin English most of the time, sometimes with a little Papiamento thrown in. My mom was always extremely happy to see her children excel, especially at graduations and weddings, but I think it made her extremely happy to see me as a Minister in Government on St. Maarten, mostly because she had made so many sacrifices for us as children, and because she always pushed us to be the best we can be and to use education to grow. So my achievement at that time was also an achievement for her.
I always admired her ability to work hard for what she wanted in life, her determination and drive to succeed. She had a lot of pride, and never asked for handouts. She worked two and three jobs, when she was actually “arbeidongeschikt” (deemed unfit for work) due to her ailing heart. She would take on jobs that are usually relegated to men, around the yard or in the home and she could change a tire and drive a big truck. My tiny sickly mother showed me that nothing is impossible and that hard work never killed a man or woman. She also taught herself to type and to use computers, with a minimal education, and was a skilled seamstress and could cook up a storm as well.
I am finding out that I am a lot like her in many ways. I am a hardworking, determined person with a strong drive to succeed, and to help others and my community. I am very loving, but can easily cut off someone if they are trying to block my blessings (I definitely got that from her).
My mom stayed at home when we were little, and started working part time when we were in school. After the divorce from my father, she worked full time and at some periods held down two to three jobs at a time. We benefitted from having her as our primary teacher at home and mentor growing up. She volunteered in our school and assisted wherever she could. Later, when she was working a lot, we learned as children to be more independent, we each had daily and weekly chores, as well as after school activities, and so we communicated back and forth with our mother with notes left on the dining room table. On off days, we went to the beach and for drives and played many board games and sports in the yard as a family.
She volunteered in schools where we attended as a help mother, she also assisted with the Little League association where we played baseball as children; this continued up until she was too ill to do so. She also assisted Don Froston as a member of his musical foundation and with the Youth Choir in the Philipsburg Methodist Church. She raised three strong children, who are upright and dedicated citizens of St. Maarten and have made a contribution in various ways through sports and the arts. So she indirectly continues to contribute to our society through her offspring.
Her mom died at a young age, but I believe her memories of her mother were her inspiration.
I needed my mom most when I had my firstborn and she was a rock at my side, teaching me how to be a good mom. She was also my go to person when I first became minister and was always there for me and my children when my life became too hectic.
Anytime I am sad or feel overwhelmed, she is the one I would go to and just lay my head on her and she would make me feel better. Now that she is no longer with us in the flesh, she is with me all the time; I can feel her positive spirit guiding me still.
My mom, Nadia, has taught me that no failure or setback is ever a failure because of what you’ve learned in the process and never give up on what you believe in. Continue to get back up and try again in another way. She taught us that with hard work and determination you can always reach where you are striving to get.
She knows how much I appreciate the sacrifices she made for us, and for me personally. She knows I strive to be like her!
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