My biggest achievement so far is honoring my father, mother and ancestors by living out the lessons they instilled in me of perseverance, strong family values, brotherhood, honesty and finding the small joys in life.
I only knew my grandfather, Vahan Hekimian, when I was still a toddler. He never spoke much about the Genocide, however my mother used to tell me that, as a youngster, he used to work for the German railway system in Adana and he was actually instrumental in smuggling out Armenian relatives and villagers (himself included) by train carriage going south toward Syria and Lebanon. He lost many of his family members during the atrocities committed, but unfortunately much of the details are now lost to history. My only regret today is not documenting my grandfather's memories for posterity.
I am proud that he was considered a hero amongst his village.
Most of my family (my grandparents on both my mother’s and father's side) ended up in Lebanon and Jerusalem, respectively. They settled into areas where they had very few acquaintances and had to start their lives all over from scratch. Establishing roots in a foreign land and raising families that eventually ended up immigrating to North America speaks to their resilience of spirit and thirst for survival.
If I could extend my gratitude to the people who helped save my ancestors, I would give them a big long hug, kisses on the cheek and a big "Asdvadz baheh" (God bless you)! I would then ask them which charitable organization they support and would donate funds to it myself to pay it forward.