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Monday, June 10, 2013

My Father



       I was driving home tonight and there was a program on NPR called "Snap Judgment" a special called   “Big Poppa”  exploring the unique relationship between fathers and children. Stories about father figures, doting dads, protective pops' (and even those not in the running for “Father Of The Year.”). This description is  from NPR about the program. Anyway, listening to the stories people were telling about their dads made me think of my dad whom I lost May 9, 1991. 

At the time he was in Iran and I was living in California.  For my sisters and brother who were here this was devastating news so it was for the rest of my siblings who lived in Iran. He never recovered from his surgery for stomach cancer, but he died peacefully in his home, in his bed and my older sister was by his side. He was 80 years old.  My impression of his life is that he had a full and rich life. He had a large extended family, brothers and sisters, lots of nieces and nephews. His father lived in his home until his death at a very old age. My dad had a few occupations in his life, he was in the  transportation business, he had large trucks and drivers, he had a garage, he was a rug merchant and he was also a builder who usually had large government contracts. He traveled a lot, had lots of friends, he was involved and dedicated to our small Armenian  community where we lived. People from all walks of life knew and respected him. He was a benevolent patriarch not only for his large family but for the people of our town. Any one who needed a job or money would come to him, and he would help them any way he could. He had lots of ups and downs in his life, sometimes business was booming and sometimes he was broke, but that never changed him, he was always the same in terms of his character and what he would do for people specially for his relatives. Once he saw a young boy of maybe 12 or 13 in his garage trying a hitch a ride from one of his trucks to Tehran. He asked the boy where he was going and why. Upon hearing that he was an orphan and was trying to go to the big city to find a job and fend for himself, my dad brought him home and told my mom to take care of him. This boy lived in our house and went to school with my older sisters and brother until he was 18 and then my dad let him go. After 30 years he had found my dad who now lived in Tehran and came to see him with his wife and kids.  He introduced my dad and mom to his wife as his mom and dad. 


     I have plenty of good memories from my father. The sweetest one is from when I was just 6 years old. It was the beginning of summer, my mom had taken my little brother and had gone to Tehran to see a doctor of some kind. I wanted to go with her but she couldn't take me. I remember that I was sad for about a few hours but playing with my sisters and cousins I soon forgot. One day dad came home and told us that he was also going to Tehran on business. I immediately asked him to take me too because I had missed mom so much. He said he couldn't because he had to stop at Qom for a few hours and couldn't possibly take me. Again I was heart broken, not only I was missing mom now I would miss dad too. But it was summer after all and I had so many playmates and games to play I soon forgot this too.  A few hours after he left,  suddenly I saw his car coming through our big gates. I got so happy and excited, I ran to the car and asked him why he had come back. He said that he had forgotten something, I asked what? He said I forgot you. I guess he had a change of heart and came back. He told my sisters to get me ready. So I was given a bath, my little suite case was packed and off we went. I don't remember if we had nay conversations on the way, I was probably speechless from happiness. When we got to Qom he bought me a big bag of pistachios and told me to stay in the car and that he would soon return. I was a good obedient girl so I did what I was told. I ate my pistachios and waited. Cars didn't have clocks then and I didn't have a watch, but I could tell he was gone for a good hour if not more. Now that I think about it,  it makes me very scared. That city is a Muslim holly city, it's a center of learning about Islam, full of young and old men in turbans. How could he leave me alone in such a place? yet he did and nothing bad happened. Knowing him now I think he had probably paid someone to watch over me while he was gone. I don't remember the rest of that summer only that he came back for me. 


       Another memory that I will never forget is his coming home on New Years Eve. As usual he was gone on a business trip for months, we all had missed him dearly and without him New Year and Christmas meant nothing.  Besides,  if he wasn't home we would get no presents. Our mom was too busy with 10 kids to go out and by us gifts. That night we went to bed with broken hearts. But at the stroke of 12 o'clock there was a loud nock and we all jumped out of bed. We all ran outside to our snow covered balcony in our pajamas and bare feet. And what did we see? Our father's car coming through the gates. That was the best New Year I have ever had. He came with suit cases full of presents. We got books, note books, pencils and pens, shoes and dresses, necklaces and bracelets, and best of all candy. I treasure these memories and love my father for making my childhood so sweet. 


One other reason I loved him was because he loved books, I always saw him reading. When he was home and didn't have company, he was reading. So I loved to read too. When summer came I would be so happy that I could read uninterrupted for hours without worrying about homework or going to bed early. I would read laying down for hours and would get horrible headaches. I always asked him what to read next.  He always had good suggestions. He had already read all  the books in our wast library. We had books by Armenian, French, English, Russian and Iranian authors. Because of him I came to know my Armenian heritage and cherish our rich culture and appreciate other cultures who had given the world such treasures.  


My father was a peoples person. he could have conversations with every kind of man, educated city businessmen and the day laborer.  Even though he had only studied to ninth grade he was well read and very intelligent. With today's standards he was probably not a good businessman because he never saved when had had money and never invested. Once he had a great deal of real estate but he sold them for business purposes and also to help others. When I was a teenager I asked him once if he regrets loosing all his real estate or not saving any of his huge earnings. He said he never looks back, never regrets anything he's done. He also said money is like dirt on your hands, you better wash it off.  
From all his actions and deeds I came to value family, loyalty, friendship, integrity, generosity, and compassion for my fellow human beings. 

When I heard of his death by a phone call from Tehran, I didn't cry. I had lost something precious to me a few weeks back and I had no tears left. I didn't mourn him at all. My loss was too great and painful already. My father will live in my memories and in my values that I have passed on to my children. 

He would be happy. Rest in eternal peace father. I will always love you.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Mom & Dad



          When one has lost both parents even as an adult one feels orphaned. After my mom died I thought that an era had came to an end. There would no longer be "moms house" to go to, to hug and kiss her,
to eat her cooking, to look through her old photo albums, to listen to her stories about bygone days. I try not to live in the past but I miss mom and dad. They were both very unique individuals not really well suited for each other but you could tell that they loved each other very much.
Kind of like my husband and I.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Survival

What is it about survival that makes us do things that are damaging to our soul, our psyche, our dignity, the very essence of our humanness. I’m not talking about prostituting to get our daily fix for whatever poison that our body craves, I’m merely talking about the things that whatever evil empire, aka corporation we are working for makes us do.
I know that to live in a capitalist economy there are only a few ways you can make money, own valuable stuff you have inherited, make valuable stuff by using labor, or own the companies that make the stuff. If you don’t have any of the three, then you are the labor which means you are going to be dancing with a different tune every day of your miserable life if you want to survive. It means you are going to be dancing when you are tired, when you are sick, when you are old and you have to be dancing even when you are sad. You will be dancing to fast tunes, slow tunes, dancing to garbage music, and music that doesn’t make sense. To survive you will do anything your bosses ask of you. You will beg, you will lie, you will cheat, and you will smile and laugh when the only thing you want to do is to cry.
Now if we agree that to survive physically is to have adequate food and shelter, then maybe you can be a small scale capitalist, and make some useful small widget and live a simple life that your small income can support, then the only dancing you will do is to your own tune. But remember we are living in a capitalist economy and society that measures everyone and everything in quantifiable units. That means you are measured by the house you have, the cars you drive, the clothes you ware, the places you vacation, and the number of high tech stuff you own. If you have nothing to be measured by then you have no worth in society’s eyes. You might as well find a whole and crawl in it until the day you meet your maker.
You might say that only shallow and materialistic people might think that way, but if you really think about it the only people that will think that, are the ones who have a high number of measureable units. I have lived long enough to observe, that people who don’t struggle for their daily survival, are the ones that can afford to be interested in arts and culture, that have the time to be involved in social and political activities or at least they pretend to be.
So I conclude that survival is not dependant only on adequate food and shelter but also the felling that you belong to the society that you live in, and can have the regard and friendship of the members of that society. If that is what we desire, and have not attained the intellectual and spiritual maturity that will make it possible for us to live in a materialistic society and not feel the pressure to be like everyone else, then we have to dance. We shall dance to every tune our employer plays, we shall dance when we are tired, and we shall dance when we are sick and old and sad.
Let the music play I want a new smart phone.                          

Monday, November 22, 2010

BENEDICTION


I have been blessed with a big family and for years they have honored me by coming to my home for Thanksgiving dinner. I try my best to have a warm and inviting house and good things to eat. There are never enough chairs but we always have plenty of food that even after everyone taking a plate home we still have leftovers to enjoy for a couple of days. Every year I attempt to say what I'm thankful for but it seems that I never get it right or I don't say enough. So this year I want to write it down so I won't leave out anything.
  • I'm thankful for my loving husband, his funny antics and his patience with me.
  • I'm thankful for my beautiful daughter who is the reason for my life.
  • I'm thankful that my son is happy with his wife whom I love dearly and baby girl and our life is richer because of them.
  • I'm thankful for my kind and caring mother in law.
  • I'm thankful that my brother in law and his family finally joined us and are making a life for themselves and the girls are happy and well adjusted.
  • I'm blessed that I have all my brothers and sisters and that their families are healthy, productive and growing.
  • I'm grateful that I'm employed and can provide for my family again.
  • I'm grateful that our Earth is beautiful and the sky is blue and the sun is still shining.
  • I'm blessed that I remember my parents with love and admiration.
  • And last but not least I'm super thankful for the Internet.
  • May you all be blessed this Thanksgiving and all the ones yet to come.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Self Expression

Who is relevant? Who is important? What is important? Who matters? I'm not talking about Time magazine's 100 most influential people of the year but about people who we come into contact in our everyday life, people we work with, our friends in Facebook, our family. What we choose to say to each other when we meet, or call or text or share or comment in real time or electronically, they all say something about us. Do we only talk about our work, our family, our political views, our obsessions, our travels, our opinions, our love life, celebrities, food, kids, clothes? Do other peoples obsessions become out pet peeves at some point, do we get board, annoyed, tired from reading the same things from the same people all the time? Do we sometimes ask ourselves, who cares? I'll be honest, I do judge people in my mind all the time. On the surface I'm very accepting of all people because I love people in general. I don't care about gender, sexuality, nationality or religion. That doesn't mean I can be friends with all of them or would like any type of relationship with them. But inside I make judgments by what they talk about, what they say they read or don't read, what TV news or programs they watch, who they like and even what they wear. I think most people will not admit to being judgmental because it's not a desirable trait, but I admit that I am a judgmental person and I also think most people are like me in this regard. I wrote this because I needed to express something and now I'm not sure what it really was.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

ONE HOUR FOR A LIFETIME

When my son was growing up I was a new emigrant, a part time student and a part time fast food restaurant employee, I was basically trying to survive in this new word. In a matter of few months my world had turned upside down. I had left my mom and dad, sisters and brothers in Iran to come to America where my fiance was waiting for me. We got married within two weeks of my arrival. He was going to college and I also registered and started taking ESL classes. It was my husband's idea to have a child right away. He said all our challenges will be over at the same time, by the time we would graduate our kid would be in school. I was young , in love and stupid so I agreed. I guess in his mind the division of labor was like this, he would go to school and work to support us, and I would go to school and raise the kid. But obviously he hadn't counted on school being so expensive for foreign students that only one of us could go to school. Our parents were sending money from Iran for school bur only enough for one of us. I really don't know who's decision it was that the one going to school would be him but I have a pretty good hunch that being from middle east and from traditional families we both felt that with him being educated he would be in a better position to make a good living. So he went and I stayed home to care for our son. There is a point to my story, however I first need to explain why I did not do the things that I'm suggesting you to do. When I was young, I was selfish and I thought of myself only. I wanted to get an education, I wanted to have a carrier, I had dreams and goals. But I also had a son. I should have thought about his future, his education, his dreams and his success. But instead I felt that something or someone had stolen my dreams and there were boulders on my road to success. I was full of resentment and bitterness, I blamed everything and everybody. At this point in my life I have made peace with the wrong decisions of my youth, I have forgiven my husband for forcing me into motherhood way before I was ready, I have forgiven myself for not being a better mother, I have settled all my resentments and berried my regrets. Not only I was too busy feeling sorry for myself but also I basically knew nothing about saving for college, I only had a checking account to pay bills, we could hardly make ends meet let alone save for college. Then years latter I started working in the banking and investment industry and learned about financial planing. It was way too late for my children. My son went to community college, state university and graduated medical school with a $300,000.00 burden of student loans. He worked part time while in college and a year before starting medical school. We helped as much as we could, not from savings but from current earnings and it was difficult to say the least. It hurt us to see him struggle and have to do without. But we are proud that he stuck to his vision and reached his goal. Yet it could have been much easier and a whole lot less stressful if we had planned. This is where I am going to tell you to do what I failed to do because of my self absorption and ignorance. Your children deserve the best life. I know as loving parents you want everything that is the best in life for them. You want them to be happy and healthy of course but you want them to have good paying jobs, and that only comes from a solid education. All you new parents and parents to be, start thinking about this matter now. Set the stage for their success now. Lay the foundation, pave the road, make it possible for them to see their bright future. Start savings for your kids future as soon as they are born. Even if they are a few years old it is not too late. It is easy and simple, go to any major bank and ask to speack to the financial advisor, or go on line to Fidelity Investments and set up a 529 college savings plan. You can start with a $100.00 and have them transfer money from your checking account, any amount you want once a month. Once you do this you don't have to think about it anymore. Every parent can save up to $250,000.00 per child tax free. If one child doesn't use it for education another child in the family can. Set your child's future on the right track, remember your children deserve the best. Invest one hour in the future of your child now and set them up for a great life.

The ScholarShare College Savings Plan is California's tax-advantaged 529 plan, open to everyone. It's sponsored by the ScholarShare Investment Board, an agency of the State of California, and managed by Fidelity Investments.

Vanguard College Savings Center


Thursday, January 29, 2009

Don't take them with you

He lost his job and he killed his wife, his two sons , his mother-in-law and himself. Stupid stupid man. You probably deserved to die but who gave you the right to take them with you. Those innocent human beings that may have enjoyed life even after your tragic demise. I'm no stranger to thoughts of suicide. When I was a teenager any disagreement with my parents would make a good excuse to kill myself, in adulthood I have had my share of tragedies and disappointments to fill a few life times and again suicide has always seemed the easy way out. But easy for whom? It certainly is easy and a final end to the suffering of the person committing it but for the family and every loved one left behind it's a tragedy to be dealt with for the rest of their lives. Only cowards want to take others with them in death. The person who drives the wrong way in a freeway to kill himself is sure to take a few innocents with him as well, or the morons who park their car on train tracks. In any suicide there are a number of people to blame like the wife, husband or the parent who didn't see it coming. In my non expert opinion most suicides are predictable and even preventable. Most people with a little common sense can see signs of depression and should offer help. Most people who commit suicide have been thinking of doing it for a long time and prepare for it. Families should be vigilant to detect signs. Depression, hopelessness, withdrawal, giving things away, not making long term plans, putting their affairs in order are a few signs of impending suicide. In this day and age when every kind of information and resource is a click of a mouse away people should not resort to this most cowardly way of getting out of trouble. Loosing a limb let alone loosing a job is not a good reason to kill one self. But for Gods sake or your family's sake if you want to kill yourself do it but don't take anyone with you. Let everyone choose when and how they want to die.