Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Reprinting Eulogy for Peter Bilezikian, survivor of the Armenian Genocide, written by his son.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

PETER BILEZIKIAN, MORE THAN A CONQUEROR

PETER BILEZIKIAN, MORE THAN A CONQUEROR: The Eulogy read at Watertown Evangelical Church via skype  by Peter's son, James Peter Bilezikian.  Peter died at age 97 1/2 on March 24, 2010.

Anybody who was blessed to see and eat of the garden our father husbanded for forty years would know the pull the very first garden, the garden of Eden,  had on his heart.  Where there were stones and struggling grass and cabbage weeds that flourished and dandelions that ruled, our father planted a garden.  Each spring he would sift through the loam, which became blacker every year because of his nurturing, and pick out the rocks, then the stones, and finally the pebbles, and throw them into the ravine at the edge of our kingdom where the mulberry bush held court.  This garden was to the west of the three bee hives which guarded the back door of our property.  A century old apple tree, whose bark was dappled with age and seniority, reached over the fence from the yard of our neighbor, ‘old man’ Cogan, and shattered the illusion of separation of neighbor from neighbor, and sheltered the hives with a promise of an early feast of pollen and nectar.  The scent from their April blooms covered the hives and blew from a horn of plenty.  It announced the arrival of spring after a winter siege long enough to put recovery from the snow gripped land in doubt.  It was a victory of life over death, and the garden was its celebration.

Like the antediluvian mist that rose from the ground and watered the earth, the fruit of the garden rose from the ground, and hung from a design of poles and pipes and twine, never sullied by contact with the soil in which their roots were buried, ready to be eaten with the sun still smarting on the skin.  It was a feast, a moveable feast, of light and life.

One of dad’s favorite hymns that we would hear him sing impromptu on a Sunday afternoon, or a Saturday evening was…
In The Garden (first verse)
By: Charles Austin Miles, 1913
I come to the garden alone
While the dew is still on the roses
And the voice I hear, falling on my ear
The Son of God discloses
And He walks with me
And He talks with me
And He tells me I am His own
And the joy we share as we tarry there
None other has ever known
To hear this rock hard man break forth and regale his father in heaven always filled me up. To watch him, as a child, climb those cellar stairs that led up to our kitchen, caked in the black dust of the oil burners that he cleaned and bear the mark of the chimney sweep of a century earlier, or the West Virginia coal miner from the mile deep pits of bitumen, filled me with wonder and made my eyes wide when he surfaced to the sunlight of our kitchen and my mother’s smile and me and my sisters’ excitement at the return of our father.
Can you eat violin lessons?  That was the question his mother asked our father when he came home one day, reporting that his middle school would teach him how to play the violin.  But even that pittance to be charged was too much for his immigrant family.  It was from that deprivation that ushered forth the treasure of his soul stored up until he was fully grown and married to a beautiful foreigner (Armenian girl) from Aintab, via Cambridge Massachusetts. Dad made certain that all three children studied a classical instrument for 12 years by the time we graduated high school. When visitors arrived at our home, one, or all of us, were asked to perform on either the piano or the violin.  We children were our parents’ flags of victory over the enemy that had sought our family’s life.  The music that came from our hearts, from the fingerboard of the violin or the keyboard of the piano, was the sound of light bursting forth from the darkness that sought to overwhelm him and his mother and brother and sisters in their childhood.  The love of Christ sounded forth in those notes of the cherubs who were his progeny.  He and mother were more than conquerors.  They gave us life and life abundantly.
Dad would joke about his singing voice, and he was right.  He said the best song he sang and the one in greatest demand was ‘Far, far away’, the farther, the better.  Dad married Lucille Vartanian, Jenny to everybody, who, unlike himself, had a radio quality voice that sang out throughout many a day to the confusion of our friends who called us on the phone.  They would ask what station we were listening to because the voice and the songs were so pretty.  The two became one in their marriage, as was designed by our Father in heaven.  They protected each other from the hardness of the world.  Dad’s hospitality was equal to our mother’s welcome.
I can remember
the cool air seeping through the metal of our screen door, whose shape was
distorted after years of children running into and out of the house. The air
was of spring, an air that wilted in the mornings, after a few months, as the
days sailed into summer. I can remember the people arriving at our house, at
our small home, huge with welcome. It was the look on their faces, when my
mother opened the door, I always scrutinized the look, it was the look of
pleasure at the sincerity of welcome, and the attempt to hide their
excitement at their arrival on our shores, as it was not good form to be so transparent. They
knew they were entering a world of experience, as our house was a
museum of life where everything could be touched and upon which everything
could be gazed. There was conversation and laughter in our home. It was a
conversation that carved time out of the granite block of the darkness of
days. It was a conversation that never tittered, because it was not driven
by clock or courtesy.
That was the rub of it all. Father had suffered through ‘the granite block of the darkness of days’ and yet I never once heard anger or bitterness escape his lips toward the perpetrators of the crime against our humanity.  We were raised in a spirit of forgiveness that blew from the soul of our parents, souls in which the Holy Spirit made residence and which liberated them from ‘the granite block of the darkness of days’. 
Almost every Sunday afternoon there was a ‘thanks God, praise God’ that wheezed out of the lungs of Auntie Mary.  That was her signature arrival as she made her way through the house to our dining room to find us seated at a late lunch to find the chair that had been saved for her.  She was the kid sister of dad’s mother, one who had survived with them through the years of the genocide and the battle for the city of Marash.
It was these several things that informed my father’s and mother’s actions and which described their lives as our parents.  They walked in a spirit of forgiveness, of praise and thanksgiving, a spirit which came from their relationship with the Father in heaven through his son our Lord Jesus Christ.
That was how and why dad was able never to refuse a call in the middle of the night in the dead of winter from somebody whose furnace or oil burner was no longer working.   I knew that because the phone was in the corridor ten feet from the entrance to my bedroom. The ring would awaken me and I would hear my father speak, and the tone of his voice.  He never complained.  He got dressed, put on the layers necessary to survive the blizzard raging outside or the bitter cold of a forever winter’s night and like the Christian paladin he was, ride to the rescue of those stranded under a cold winter sky.  Because he and his family were rescued so many times while trying to survive Marash and the war against humanity, as rescuer, it never occurred to dad to send a bill to those he rescued.  Dad would have said that Jesus rescued us from our bondage to sin, and never sent us a bill, because He paid for the rescuing and the sin on the cross of Calvary.  Dad and mom were examples of those who grew in conformity to the image of Christ, to the mind of Christ.
When Jesus was asked what is the greatest commandment.  He said, ‘to love the lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul, and the second is unto the first, to love thy neighbor as thyself.’  Further on in the New Testament, St. John declares that any man who says he loves God, but hates his neighbor, is a liar, and his father is the devil.  Dad hated certain ideas and philosophies, but not people, not even the people who held those philosophies anathema to his thinking.
“When you are a Catholic, miracles happen.”  This was the evangelism for Roman Catholicism that daddy would hear often enough from Johnny Flynn, a close friend, and one of the salesmen that frequented Newtonville Electrical Company, the business established, owned and operated by daddy and his brother, Uncle Paul.  Johnny Flynn was six feet tall, 3 inches taller than my father, had those telltale Irish brown eyes that looked at home on the face of a boy, but always improbable on the face of an adult.  He was a spare man with unsparing freckles over all his face, faded, then, from the onset of middle age.  He was an average catholic for those days of the last years of the Korean War, if you counted the six children he had.  Dad never took issue with Johnny Flynn’s declarations of miracles awaiting any who were blessed to be Roman Catholic or might become Roman Catholic, or his attempts at proselytizing.  On Christmas Eve, 1951, dad got a call from a friend reporting that Flynn’s home had no heat, and had been that way for a couple of days.  Dad wondered why he had not been told by Johnny, a good friend, and then he realized, no doubt, Flynn was too embarrassed to admit he did not have the funds to pay for a service call.  Dad advised Harry Mooseghian, a protégé of his, to meet him late in the evening so they could embark on an adventure together.  When it was dark enough and late enough, while Flynn’s family slept, the two snuck into the cellar of Flynn’s home, through the unlocked bulkhead doors.  Sure enough, the culprit was a faulty oil burner.  Dad returned to his store, found a model identical to the one Flynn had, stole back into the cellar a second time through the bulkhead doors, and exchanged the good oil burner for the ruined one.  The following Friday, Johnny Flynn, visiting dad along with all the regulars that met there on late Friday afternoons for coffee and donuts, breathlessly recounted the tale of the miracle of waking up on Christmas morning, the week before, to a home well heated.  For two days the Flynn family had shivered through the misery of December cold that hovered just above freezing, and on Christmas morning awakened to a home delivered and resurrected from the dead of winter.  Johnny Flynn, flush with the proof of one more miracle in his life, and because of his deep affection for my father, tried again to convert Peter with, “When you are a Catholic, miracles happen.”  Johnny Flynn went to his grave never knowing the story of his deliverance.
Whether it was helping out widows locally, or Armenian orphans in Beirut, or anybody else the Lord called upon him to help, it was done quietly, always.
On March 24, at 1 a.m. Peter told one of his caregivers, that he was going to die that day.  He sang hymns off and on with her until 5 a.m.  Peter said he was going to be with his wife, his brother, his sister, his parents, and his Lord Jesus Christ.  At six a.m., he called for Irene, another caregiver.  When she arrived at the side of his bed, he looked up at her and said, “I am tired”.  With those last words on his lips, Peter Bilezikian passed into heaven.
Peter would be the first one to quote the following scriptures (Romans 8: verse 35, 37, 38, 39) as a testimony to where he was going following the death of his body.
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Because Peter Bilezikian was one of the sheep in the pasture of our Lord Jesus Christ, The Great Shepherd, he knew that he would dwell in the house of the Lord, forever.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Let's go for a walk!

A friend invited Marash Girl to go for a walk.  That sounded like such a good idea to Marash Girl, so off the two of them went to Newton Centre.  But where to walk in Newton Centre?  Marash Girl asked her friend.

"Oh, we're just walking from the parking lot to the restaurant across the street!"

And that, ladies and gentleman, is a true story!


Monday, April 24, 2017

Never Forget

We shall never forget the Armenians who were martyred during the 1915-1922 Armenian Genocide.  We pray for our martyrs, for our people, for the world.

For a more complete discussion, see Marash Girl, Thursday, January 21, 2016: 

"If it weren't for the Turks, not one Armenian would be alive today!" Peter Bilezikian

Sunday, April 23, 2017

New York Times Article on Armenian Genocide reprinted here




Photo
For more than a century, Turkey has denied any role in organizing the killing of Armenians in what historians have long accepted as a genocide that started in 1915, as World War I spread across continents. The Turkish narrative of denial has hinged on the argument that the original documents from postwar military tribunals that convicted the genocide’s planners were nowhere to be found.
Now, Taner Akcam, a Turkish historian at Clark University in Worcester, Mass., who has studied the genocide for decades by piecing together documents from around the world to establish state complicityin the killings, says he has unearthed an original telegram from the trials, in an archive held by the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem.
“Until recently, the smoking gun was missing,” Mr. Akcam said. “This is the smoking gun.” He called his find “an earthquake in our field,” and said he hoped it would remove “the last brick in the denialist wall.”
The story begins in 1915 in an office in the Turkish city of Erzurum, when a high-level official of the Ottoman Empire punched out a telegram in secret code to a colleague in the field, asking for details about the deportations and killings of Armenians in eastern Anatolia, the easternmost part of contemporary Turkey.
Continue reading the main story
Later, a deciphered copy of the telegram helped convict the official, Behaeddin Shakir, for planning what scholars have long acknowledged and Turkey has long denied: the organized killing of up to 1.5 million Armenians by the leaders of the collapsing Ottoman Empire, an atrocity widely recognized as the 20th century’s first genocide.

And then, just like that, most of the original documents and sworn testimony from the trials vanished, leaving researchers to rely mostly on summaries from the official Ottoman newspaper.
Mr. Akcam said he had little hope that his new finding would immediately change things, given Turkey’s ossified policy of denial and especially at a time of political turmoil when its president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has turned more nationalist.
But Mr. Akcam’s life’s work has been to puncture, fact by fact, document by document, the denials of Turkey.
“My firm belief as a Turk is that democracy and human rights in Turkey can only be established by facing history and acknowledging historic wrongdoings,” he said.

Phot
He broadened his point to argue that much of the chaos gripping the Middle East today was a result of mistrust between communities over historical wrongdoings that no one is willing to confront.
“The past is not the past in the Middle East,” he said. “This is the biggest obstacle to peace and stability in the Middle East.”
Eric D. WEitz, a history professor at the City College of New York and an expert on the Armenian genocide, called Mr. Akcam “the Sherlock Holmes of Armenian genocide.”
“He has piled clue upon clue upon clue,” Professor Weitz added.
Exactly where the telegram was all these years, and how Mr. Akcam found it, is a story in itself. With Turkish nationalists about to seize the country in 1922, the Armenian leadership in Istanbul shipped 24 boxes of court records to England for safekeeping.
The records were kept there by a bishop, then taken to France and, later, to Jerusalem. They have remained there since the 1930s, part of a huge archive that has mostly been inaccessible to scholars, for reasons that are not entirely clear. Mr. Akcam said he had tried for years to gain access to the archive, with no luck.
Instead, he found a photographic record of the Jerusalem archive in New York, held by the nephew of a Armenian monk, now dead, who was a survivor of the genocide.
While researching the genocide in Cairo in the 1940s, the monk, Krikor Guerguerian, met a former Ottoman judge who had presided over the postwar trials. The judge told him that many of the boxes of case files had wound up in Jerusalem, so Mr. Guerguerian went there and took pictures of everything.
The telegram was written under Ottoman letterhead and coded in Arabic lettering; four digit numbers denoted words. When Mr. Akcam compared it with the known Ottoman Interior Ministry codes from the time, found in an official archive in Istanbul, he found a match, raising the likelihood that many other telegrams used in the postwar trials could one day be verified in the same way.
For historians, the court cases were one piece of a mountain of evidence that emerged over the years — including reports in several languages from diplomats, missionaries and journalists who witnessed the events as they happened — that established the historical fact of the killings and qualified them as a genocide.
Turkey has long resisted the word genocide, saying that the suffering of the Armenians had occurred during the chaos of a world war in which Turkish Muslims faced hardship, too. That position is deeply entwined in Turkish culture — it is standard in school curriculums — and polling has shown that a majority of Turks share the government’s position.
“My approach is that as much proof as you put in front of denialists, denialists will remain denialists,” said Bedross Der Matossian, a historian at the University of Nebraska and the author of  Shattered Dreams of Revolution: From Liberty To Violence in the Late Ottoman Empire.
The genocide is commemorated each year on April 24, the day in 1915 that a group of Armenian notables from Istanbul were rounded up and deported.
It was the start of the enormous killing operation, which involved forced marches into the Syrian desert, summary executions and rapes.
Two years ago, Pope Francis referred to the killings as genocide and faced a storm of criticism from within Turkey. Many countries, including France, Germany and Greece, have recognized the genocide, each time provoking diplomatic showdowns with Turkey.
The United States has not referred to the episode as genocide, out of concerns for alienating Turkey, a NATO ally and a partner in fighting terrorism in the Middle East. Barack Obama used the term when he was a candidate for president, but he refrained from doing so while in office.
This year, dozens of congressional leaders have signed a letter urging President Trump to recognize the genocide.
But that is unlikely, especially after Mr. Trump recently congratulated Mr. Erdogan for winning expanded powers in a referendum that critics say was marred by fraud.
Mr. Shakir, the Ottoman official who wrote the incriminating telegram discovered by Mr. Akcam, had fled the country by the time the military tribunal convicted him and sentenced him to death in absentia.
A few years later, he was gunned down in the streets of Berlin by two Armenian assassins described in an article by The New York Times as “slim, undersized, swarthy men lurking in a doorway.”

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Ian Nagoski Saves The Armenian Past!


Leon Charkoudian talks with Ian Nagoski about the Armenian picnic days of yore following Nagoski's talk on the old Greek/Turkish/Amrnian '78's he has collected of decades.
As I listened to my childhood unfold before my ears, I wanted to laugh and cry, dance and shout.  How could this be?  In the heart of Takoma Park, Maryland, the songs of my childhood?  The music that haunted the picnic grounds deep in the forests of Maynard, Massachusetts, here, decades later, minutes from our nation's capital?  Impossible . . . but no, possible and happening.

The talk was fascinating and if you'd like Ian to speak and play those old Armenian 78's at your Armenian event (or at any event), here is his contact info:  Ian Nagoski - 828-242-2763; his email is inagoski@gmail.com

Ian's presentation is without equal.  If you invite him to speak, you will not be disappointed!

From Whence the Flowers?

From whence the flowers?  

Marash Girl heard the doorbell, ran down to answer, . . . no-one there, and it wasn't Halloween.  It was yesterday.  But in place of a person were three bouquets of flowers, no name, no address, no card.  Thank you to the secret admirer who may just have delivered the flowers to the wrong address!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Snap, Crackle and Pop!

Was it 6th grade at Claflin School that the class had to come up with a clever ad?  Marash Girl can't remember which teacher assigned the exercise, nor does she remember her ad, but she does remember the ad that David Seeley presented to the class; she remembers it to this day and here it is, in David's own words:

Try Soggie Woggies, the new breakfast cereal.
It doesn't snap, crackle, and pop.
It just lays there and soaks up the milk.

Marash Girl still wonders if David Seeley made it up or found it somewhere.  Whichever is the answer, his ad worked as she remembers Soggy Woggies to this day, though she has yet to find it on the shelves of her grocery store!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Randy Susan Meyers, THE WIDOW OF WALL STREET

Randy Susan Meyers, author of the recently published novel, 
THE WIDOW OF WALL STREET,
speaking at  Stellina's Restaurant in Watertown Square 

Randy Susan Meyers, author of the recently published novel, THE WIDOW OF WALL STREET, was indeed amazing and amusing as she entertained her audience last night at Stellina's Restaurant in Watertown Square, Massachusetts.  Although she grew up in Brooklyn, New York, she now lives in J.P. (Jamaica Plain, for those non-Bostonians among you) with her husband.

 Following the presentation, the audience was invited to join the author for dinner at Stellina's.     Those who purchased copies of the novel THE WIDOW OF WALL STREET found slipped into each copy a recipe card for Lemon Ginger Cupcakes, an inside joke with Meyers' publisher who once commented that women would, after all, only be interested in purchasing books on how to make cupcakes. (Not sure I heard that right!)  

THE WIDOW OF WALL STREET is described as "a provocative new novel by bestselling author Randy Susan Meyers about the seemingly blind love of a wife for her husband as he conquers Wall Street, and her extraordinary, perhaps foolish, loyalty during his precipitous fall."

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Sign of the Times

Above sign posted over the entryway to the bathrooms at Quebrada Baking Company/Coffee Shop in Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Back From A Week's Vacation

Welcomed by the song of the cardinal -- or was that Grandma Jennie whistling to us from on high as she once had done with the cardinals, whistling her way through life, always a smile on her face, never a cross word.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Kahlil Gibran's Art Lives On at Durant Kenrick House

Drawing by Kahlil Gibran (above) of former owner of Durant Kendrick House 
graces wall of bedroom in historic Durant Kenrick House
Newton, Massachusetts

Kahlil Gibran well known work THE PROPHET was a favorite among young people of the 1960's!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Between Classes: Newton North High School Folk Singer Welcomes Spring

                             
          Strumming between classes on a grey spring day- Otis Street, Newtonville, Massachusetts

Friday, April 7, 2017

Another sign of Spring sprung up today!

Driving home this morning, Marash Girl spied, along Washington Street, the first yard sale sign of the season!  A certain sign that Spring has sprung!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Oh, no! It's flu season again!

Beautiful warm days followed by rainy cold days . . . according to Marash Girl's mother, the perfect recipe for the flu.  What to do when you catch that cold?

Open all your windows and air the house out.  Just dress warmly and turn the heat up when you do this.

 Wash all sheets and blankets (all at once) in hot water and dry in hot dryer . . . also your daytime and nighttime clothing.

Air the pillows out by placing them on open windowsills and then throw them in the dryer and run the dryer at high heat

Run all stuffed animals through the dryer at high heat after placing them on the windowsills.

Wash your hands frequently.

If you are coughing or have a stuffy nose, steam up the bathroom and sit there breathing in the steam, or boil water and breath in the steam (at a distance, of course).

(Other suggestions gratefully accepted - please record on messages below.)

All this should be done in one day so there cannot be carry over of germs from one day to the next.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Active Hate Groups in the United States

Active Hate Groups in the United States . . . Did you have any idea that such a thing existed in the United States of America?  Marash Girl did not until she was walking through Brookline Village one sunny day and was stopped on a street corner and shown a map "hate groups".    And to her amazement, the highest preponderance of hate groups are along the Eastern quarter of the United States of America.  Yes, that's the United States of America.  The names of these hate groups?


1) The Ku Klux Klan (190 groups)
2) The Black Separatist (190 groups)
3) Racist Skinhead (95 groups)
4) White Nationalist (95 groups)
5) Neo-Nazi (94 groups)
6) Neo-Confederate (35 groups)
7) Christian Identity (19 groups)
8) Anti-LGBT/Other (184 groups)

In all, there are 917 hate groups in the United States, according to the SPLC (Southern Poverty Law Center) - for more information and a map, go to splcenter.org/HATEMAP

Now the question is, where is a map of all the love groups?  Those are the ones Marash Girl wants to know about!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

More Proof that Spring has Arrived

 
                 Celebrating spring: sidewalk artists Greta and Letty decorate Marash Girl's walkway.

And it's a good thing that Marash Girl took this photo yesterday, because the chalk drawings pictured above have gone the way of all good things . . . today's spring rains have washed the art away!

Monday, April 3, 2017

THE REAL FIRST DAY OF SPRING IN BOSTON

Today, is opening day at Fenway Park, the home of the Boston Red Sox.

Today is the real First Day of Spring in Boston!!!!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Fishermen and Pickup Trucks

Marash Boy took Marash Girl out to Auburndale for breakfast today, her favorite place to go for Sunday's brunch buffet. They were seated right next to the large expanse of windows overlooking the Charles River.  But today the parking lot was full of pickup trucks with such license plates as 
              and  

What was going on?  Well, it turns out that there was a gathering of Castafare (cast afar, hey!) fishermen, an outfit "offering Cape Cod deep sea fishing charters for tuna, marlin, striped bass, and tournament fishing off of Massachusetts on a 45 foot custom".  The dining hall was filled with fishermen from Massachusetts, Rhode Island and a few from New Hampshire.  

Deep sea fishing?  Marash Girl remembers when she would go deep sea fishing with her father in Newburyport, on Plum Island.  They would board a fishing boat and go out into the deep; if they were lucky (and the captain of the boat had followed the seagulls), they may have just found a run of mackerel, mackerel who were hungry, eager to take the bait on the fishing rods provided by the captain of the fishing vessel.  (Marash Girl can't remember the name of the outfit  now, as it is no longer operating out of Plum Island, Newburyport, Massachusetts.) 

Marash Girl remembers one such trip when, upon feeling a bite on her line, she pulled back so hard that the line came up out of the water with the fish on the end of the line, a fish which went flying through the air, still attached to the line, and smacked the fisherman who was fishing from the opposite side of the boat, smacked him right behind his sunburned neck.  Was he ever angry!  He turned around in a rage and came stomping and roaring across the deck, only to find a little girl holding the fishing rod on the other end of the line that held that mackerel that had smacked him.  "She's only 8 years," Peter said benignly to the raging fellow, the rage quickly dissipating into laughter.


Saturday, April 1, 2017

April Fool!

That's how we would start every April 1st morning at Claflin School in the old days.

"There's a tear in your sweater! "

"Oh, no!"

"April Fool's!"

And we would laugh.

But today, on April Fool's Day, 2017, all we need to do is watch the news to see what "our" fool is up to today, on April Fool's Day!

Would that we could laugh.