Monday, November 30, 2015

Remembering Grandma Jennie

A tribute to my Mom

“Jennie” (Lucille Mae Vartanian) Bilezikian
10/08/1917 – 11/30/1991
Martha Mae (Bilezikian Atikian) McCool

Our Mom was a wonderful, fun loving, caring, patient, and warm hearted mother and friend who also possessed incredible culinary expertise! 

Mom was ahead of her time during the 1940’s and 1950’s, always selecting the freshest fruits and vegetables (during the summer from Dad’s organic garden in our large back yard), and preparing wholesome meals all cooked from scratch. 
Mummy’s apple pies were memorable.  She made her crusts from scratch, the flakiest ever, and the apples were picked fresh from our back yard / organic apple trees.  In fact, many of the members of the Women’s Education Club were envious of Mom’s talents.  It was always noted that the meetings held at our home had the greatest in attendance; the ladies always lingered, hoping for either a recipe, or a sliver of pie to take home to hubby!!

I distinctly remember when my maternal grandmother traveled from California to Massachusetts to enjoy the summer with us, she was astonished and even heartlessly admonished Mom for wasting time by not utilizing frozen packages of veggies, and adding water to cake mixes!!

Mummy enrolled in Drivers-Education” in the late 1950’s while we were in elementary school, and a short time later, she was awarded her driver’s license.  Once she earned the badge of “Chauffer”, she took great pride in taking us shopping, or for a spin throughout Newton and the surrounding areas . . . I even remember some of those Newton High School Boys tooting and waving at us . . . she was adorable behind that wheel and could have easily passed for the beauty queen at Newton High School North.

Mom was a good sport, as well.   Periodically, Dad used to take the 3 of us (kids) fishing to have fun but also to give Mom a few hours of peace and quiet (usually on a beautiful Sunday afternoon) and enjoy the day without the commotion of 3 children.  The ironic part is that we would invariably return home with an enormous water filled bucket containing our “catch of the day” enjoying their last swim during the car ride back home.   Little did those fish know that our good hearted Dad would leave the fish preparation for Mummy.  In those days,  I guess it was considered “Man’s work”  to catch the fish, and “women’s work” to clean, scale, and cook the fresh catch of the day!!!

As we entered college, Mummy always encouraged us to bring friends home for Sunday dinner.  As I recall, the dining-room table was always extended in order to accommodate everyone comfortably!   News of our hospitable family spread and friends always looked forward to visiting.

Mummy was the perfect role model.  She was a devoted mother and wife, and passionate about her responsibilities to raise us properly, in a very good home environment.  She set a wonderful example for us to follow and she was greatly loved.   She was always there for encouragement and to lend a helping hand.  Mummy was consistently cheerful and good hearted; we feel fortunate to have had such a terrific Mom.


  1. In addition to all of these things, did you know that Mummy was an expert ice skater, volleyball player, sportswoman? Her cousin clued me in on this well after she had passed away!

  2. She loved to play the piano and could play any song by ear, even though she had never taken lessons. She took after her father who used to play the piano in a band in Aintab. I think all of us got our musical ability from her -- certainly not from Grandpa Peter who prided himself in never being able to keep a tune, although he loved to sing! And especially sing about Grandma Jennie: I dream of Jennie with the Light Brown Hair!

  3. She was, in all of our estimations, the perfect wife and the perfect mother!

  4. Raffi and Aline wish that they could have known her! In fact, I think Lorig got her sportswoman skills from Grandma Jennie who, by the way, taught her and Nisha how to ice skate when they were very little! Raffi says he and his sister know how to ice skate and that his mom Lorig broke her foot iceskating!!!!! Luckily Grandma Jennie never did!

  5. She was elegant, as elegant as any "Aintabtsi" lady, but she had that added sweetness about her!