This year, just a few days before Mother’s Day, Civilitas is holding a public forum featuring a group of Turkish scholars and activists, including two who are writing about the heart-wrenching, eye-opening, politically and psychologically explosive topic of “The Grandchildren” – the generation in Turkey that is just now finding out from their aging grandparents that they indeed have Armenian blood. These are the grandparents who, during the 1915 deportations, were left behind as children and who married or were married off to Turks, Kurds and others and who adapted. Lived, even loved and gave life, only at the end of it to find out that memories don’t die, indeed shouldn’t die, and they passed on to their unsuspecting grandchildren a secret that shakes one’s being – you are not who you thought you were. You are one of the Armenians about whom the Turkish government continues to lie.
My grandmother might have been one of those, except that she was taken away. She lived, she loved too, it seems, but then was bought (yes, bought, not brought, but bought) by a man who was to become my grandfather — an Armenian merchant who had lost his own first family. Had that not happened, neither my mother nor I would have come to be.
This is a story I recount every Mother’s Day – to myself, to my children, to anyone who’ll listen. It is about who we are, quite accidentally.
It is as if I have been making up for that accident all my life. The rest of my life has been by choice. Choosing everything – career, children, activism, Armenia – in order to do my bit to prevent more accidental history.
In other words, what happens next — to my children, to my people — that shouldn’t be accidental. Politics, education, emigration, basic rights, civility – I don’t want my life to be the accidental consequence of all those things in someone else’s hands.
Clearly I’m not alone. Everyone in Armenia, consciously or unconsciously, wants control of his/her life. Some actually do something about it. Working with them and supporting them is my Mother’s Day answer to April 24.
This year, some friends in the US have created another Mother’s Day answer to April 24. It’s www.civilitasamerica.org. If it doesn’t work for you, fine, but if it works for you, share the answer please.