Vahan Minasian and Parantsem Saroyan
The adults in this beautiful Old Country passport photograph are my grandmother’s parents, Vahan Minasian (standing) and Parantsem Saroyan (seated, at left). That’s my father’s mother, Yeproxie, in the middle, at about eight years of age. The youngest child is her little brother, Zaven. Archie (see previous entry), their brother Kirk, and two other sisters were not yet born. The boy standing is either a cousin, or someone who was traveling with them. Parantsem was William Saroyan’s aunt. Our eldest son, Vahan, is named after the Vahan you see here — my father’s grandfather, my great-grandfather, his great-great-grandfather, who left this world but ten short years later, at the age of thirty-nine.
My mother, when she was still able to remember, had some dear recollections of Parantsem, dating back to the early 1940s. Once, when she and Dad went to visit her and the family in San Francisco, Parantsem and her sister, Takoohi (Willie’s mother), sat there amiably telling stories and “smoking like chimneys.” On another occasion, after Dad had left to do his part in the insanity called the Second World War, Mom visited them again with her in-laws. At some point during the conversation, when Dad’s name was mentioned, Mom, leaning against Parantsem, broke into tears. Parantsem — widow, mother, and grandmother, wise and far from her native land, stroked Mom’s hair, uttering soft words of strength and consolation. My mother is ninety now. Yesterday, my wife and I bought her some new warm clothes.