Resilience

So, for our first class today, I was thinking about what that means to me and those who have been in my life.  I’ve seen friends and family survive cancer and other diseases.  One of my good friends from high school has a brain tumor, has had four surgeries, is in a wheelchair and is on chemo.  But she keeps moving.  She meets us for lunch.  She keeps on keeping on.

The one story I’m going to mention in class today is the survival story of my grandfather during the Armenian Genocide of 1915.  While I tend to use this story quite a bit, I feel the more I talk about it, the more the memory of the atrocities will remain as part of the conversations we have.  As George Santayana stated “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it” (one of my dad’s favorite quotes).

Part of resilience is remembering the stories of those who have pushed forward in times of suffering.  So I will remember my grandfather and his relatives who survived the first major genocide of the 20th century.

The story I’m thinking of is one of my grandfather and his great aunt.  As they journeyed to Der Zor, the desert in which the Armenians were marched to and left to die, women were raped, children were taken away, people were killed.  Women feared their children were to be kidnapped by the Turks.  They threw their children and then themselves into the Euphrates River.  They would rather drown than live a life subjected to the Turks.  My grandfather’s great aunt would not let that happen to my grandfather.  As this was happening, she hid my grandfather under her skirt and told him “Don’t worry baby.  I won’t let them take you away.”

This great aunt did everything in her power to survive.  They tricked gypsies into taking them back to their village.  They ate grass on the side of the road.  With the Russian Revolution happening was another setback, but eventually they made it out of Turkish Armenia (now Turkey) and to the United States.

Their story of resilience is part of my story.  Without their resilience, I would not be here today.  Without this great aunt hiding my grandfather or tricking gypsies, the story would not have lived on.

~ by mictori on January 5, 2010.

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