Stories about my Armenian ancestors in Turkey—and even their early years in America—were rare. Many family members who never made it to America (or France, or Argentina) simply vanished.
There were tragedies and mysteries. In many cases, families never learned what happened to their missing members; they disappeared and were never heard of again. I tried to use modern search methods for some history of my grandfather’s parents, siblings, and other family members. Very little was revealed.
My family wasn’t unusual. The focus was on thriving in the here and now. And on appreciating the opportunity to be in America–not just to survive, but to thrive and contribute to a community.
I learned more from my elderly cousin than from searchable records. His stories touched on family lore—possibly accurate as far as they went, but with no hard evidence. And yet I hung on those stories, and built some of them into my historical fiction, Armenian Dances.
Knowing about our family’s past generations—who they were and where they came from—anchors us. Knowing people who knew them opens doors to greater understanding of who we are. It humbles us—could we have survived and accomplished what they did, against such odds?
What’s your family’s story?