I remember Kim Tatoian in the late 80′s as a pretty blonde teenager and a very active member of the AYF in Detroit. She is the first-born child of Ann and George Krikorian of Dearborn, who themselves met at an AYF Olympics.
Now married to Marty Tatoian and the mother of three, Kim is a busy wife, mother, and career woman. She is writing to tell me of her dedication to reading the Hye Beat column because it brings her closer to home and all things familiar. She says, “I still have my Sunday School and AYF friends I keep in touch with through modern technology.”
“I thought when I had children I would be able to raise them as I was and have the AYF experience but living where we do that is not the case.” In order to teach Alex, Tamar, and Armen about their Armenian heritage, Kim made them read the Armenian Weekly. “I also made them look things up on the internet and encourage them to do book reports on Armenia. Although I have difficulty speaking Armenian, I try to teach them the language and Tamar is teaching herself to speak and write by going online.”
Kim regrets not being able to raise her children in an Armenian community but says, “At least they know where they came from” and mentions the Saroyan saying “For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a new Armenia.
“We are so lucky to be Armenian but more importantly, I can’t think of being anything else.”
Tamar presented her friends with well-received wooden plates with the colors smeared as Christmas gifts, with their names written in Armenian letters. Although Kim was surprised at her daughter’s effort, her friends were not. Said one, “Nope, we are not and we are proud and we also know how proud Tamar is to be Armenian.”
Our prayers are with Kim and Marty’s son Alex, whom Hye Beat wrote about last year when he became an Eagle Scout. On Feb. 11, he headed to the Army National Guard boot camp at Ft. Sill, Okla. for four months, to be followed by college in Arizona. “I pray he is safe and makes the most of this wonderful life-changing experience,” Kim the mom says.
Armen has received his Life Rank for Scouts and is writing up his service project for Eagle Rank, following in his brother’s footsteps. Tamar has been accepted to Northern Michigan U. where she will pursue athletic training. The Tatoians are growing up.
“I love the Hye Beat column and it’s the first thing I read even though it makes me homesick. I loved reading about my mom refusing to eat the Turkish-owned Godiva sample at the shopping mall. My parents instilled those same values in me.”
At Christmas, Kim and Alex were shopping and observed that the clothing item they were ready to purchase was made in Turkey, and swiftly put it back. Another couple heard their discussion and said, “I can understand you’re not wanting to buy something made in China but why Turkey?” They explained about the genocide and why they don’t support anything Turkish. The couple was fascinated and complimented them on their conviction and said, “Good for you. From now on we will check labels, too.”
Tamar and her marks have scored Hye with her teachers. Her English teacher is a proud Armenian, blessing her daughter with an Armenian name. She gives Tamar extra help with her studies. Her grades didn’t suffer when Tamar’s gym teacher found out they grew up with her mother’s cousins in Niagara Falls.
Armen is an altar server in the local Catholic church where the family worships, and he attends school and educates his mates. One of them told Kim, “Armen has spoken about Turkey and what they did to your people, so we don’t like the Turkish government. We are supporting you, and Armenian names like Armen are so cool.” Armen is a huge System of a Down fan and even his guitar teacher cuts out articles about the rock group for him.
“Here we are the sole Armenians living in small town USA and yet we still try to get the word out. The kids are so proud to be Armenian and all their teachers and friends know the basic information on Armenia. I’d have started an AYF here but our kids would be the only members,” writes Kim. It seems she has done better than most parents.
How many of you saw the TW show “Jeopardy” when the category was coats of arms and the question was, “What was in the middle of the Armenian coat of arms?” You bet, Kim and Marty Tatoian knew the answer: “Mt. Ararat!” Their son Alex’s arm has a tattoo of the Armenian flag with Armenia’s coat of arms on it, as well as the Armenian cross.
Kim: “My mom’s story made me think…I am carrying on their tradition and conviction of those we have lost in the Armenian Genocide and why. As far removed as we are from the center of action, my kids still have Armenian pride.”
Hooray for East Aurora, N.Y., and the Tatoian family. The Armenian spirit lives!