Hi everyone, here's a note from my mother to thank you for your thoughtful words on her birthday. See you tomorrow!
September 27, 2010
Dear CCAA History Students,
Thank you very much for your wonderful birthday blog wishes. It’s absolutely true that I’ve repeatedly told my son that I’d prefer a piece of writing from him more than any other kind of gift. He and all of you gave me the best present in the world. Want to know the way to any mother’s heart? Compliment her child! Well, you’ve won my heart by writing about how much you’re learning in class and how much how you appreciate Martin’s -- sorry, I can’t call him Mr. Toomajian – teaching. It seems from what I read on the blog that you have the opportunity to not only learn about historical and current events but also to express your opinions about them through debate and writing. I’ve really been enjoying reading your ideas on various topics and will keep reading as the year progresses.
I’d love to come to your classroom again and see how the library is doing. It would be good to have the books classified by topic. Maybe I’ll have to visit later in the school year, work on the book collection and see you, too.
Martin was correct; I had no recollection of the dinner table conversation about Anne’s Turkish friend. I’m not surprised to hear how my husband and I reacted, though. I was happy that Anne had a new friend from Turkey, in spite of the fact that the child’s ancestors may have persecuted my ancestors. The Turks under the Ottoman Empire did unspeakable things to Armenians. We’d be wise to never forget that human beings are capable of such atrocities and that we have to do our part to keep such things from happening now and in the future. That’s a tall, almost impossible order! Martin told you about my grandmother’s first husband and sons being lost, but he didn’t tell you about my grandfather who was a shoemaker. Some of his customers were members of the Turkish military who came to him to have boots made and repaired. As conditions became more and more dangerous for Armenian men in Turkey, a Turkish military officer (and customer) helped my grandfather escape to safety in Egypt. Without the aid of this “enemy,” my grandfather would most likely have been killed and not have made it to the United States in 1913. How could I let my son think cruelly of a child who had no idea what went on during the reign of the Ottomans? Where is the sense in perpetuating generations-old fear and hatred? It’s possible that a Turkish child of the late twentieth or twenty-first centuries is a descendant of someone who saved Armenians. Note well that Martin’s dad and I were a team in correcting our 9-year-old. I wouldn’t be nearly as good a mom if I didn’t have a great husband to share the parenting responsibilities.
And, yes Helmsley, I’m pretty passionate about books, especially books for kids and young adults. I try to keep up with new literature as much as possible, but I fall short of my expectations. I’m always playing catch-up. At the moment I’m listening to the audio version of the 2008 book The Dead and the Gone, a doomsday novel about New York City by Susan Beth Pfeffer. It’s her second science fiction book about what happens when a meteor hits the moon and knocks it out of orbit, creating tsunamis, severe weather aberrations, famine and all kinds of devastation. Sounds dismal, but it’s really exciting to hear how 17-year-old Alex Morales labors to keep himself and his sisters alive as the city falls apart around him. There are all kinds of New York City references and addresses that you’d appreciate – as long as you don’t mind thinking about lower Manhattan being completely flooded and the temperature being below freezing in September. Now I’ve got to get my hands on the third book: The World We Live In. I’ve got some lighter, younger material on my to-read list, too. The Dead and the Gone isn’t a book I’d recommend to my elementary students, but I think you older kids would appreciate it.
I’ll continue to follow the blog and see what’s going on at CCAA. Thank you again for your kind wishes. What a memorable birthday you gave me!
P.S. I join my son and a lot of you in heaving a sigh of relief that the Yankees did not get swept this weekend. Phew!
P.P.S. from Mr. Toomajian: I'm sure that, as of September 28, my mom would join us all in celebrating that the Yankees are back in the playoffs where they belong.