MY ARMENIAN GENESIS:
THE LAST SURVIVOR
By Mary L. MOVSISIAN Foess
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Biographies and Memoirs - - Based on true events
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A primal scream erupted in the Charity Ward of Providence Hospital, Washington, D.C., on September 23, 1945. Crying out for Mother, baby Movsisian felt her loving grip only moments after birth. Soon her first name would be "Judy." Her bassinet was wheeled away once her birth blood was washed away. The tag on her tiny bed read: "Charity Ward, bottle feed, no contact with Mother." Four days later, on September 27, 1945, this newborn and her mother left the hospital, but separately. Judy, now renamed "Mary," was often asked, "My, where did those big, brown eyes come from? The olive skin?" No one knew anything about "Mother Armenia."
This baby girl would be the very last one to inherit the Movsisian surname and the female mitochondrial DNA from Grandmother. Mary's grandparents, uncle, and cousin (male) were Mary's sole surviving family members from the Armenian Genocide, the only ones who escaped from the massacres taking place in Nor Kegh, Charsandjak, Kharpert, in the Euphrates River Valley, part of the Cradle of Civilization. This area suffered the worst destruction of lives, homes, churches, and businesses. Each step these brave people took on their route to freedom gave Mary and her descendants one more day to live on Earth. Grandfather, once he got settled in the U.S.A., helped found, along with three other men, the first Armenian Apostolic Church in the Midwest. Holy Savior was consecrated on October 26, 1924 in Chicago, Illinois. Mary's grandfather had the voice of an angel and became the choir director there.
Cloaked in secrecy, Mary's identity remained an enigma until September 23, 1983. Her birth records had been kept under court seal in Montgomery County, Rockville, Maryland. Amended and issued over two years later on October 23, 1947, her birth certificate now listed her parents as David D. and Eathel G. (McCallum) Letts. At age 38, Mary learned about her inherited gifts: membership in both the oldest known civilization (5,000 years) on Earth and in the first one to accept Christianity in 301, AD. Mary's odyssey continued. How did Mary solve the mystery of her origins, and why was she given up for adoption?
Mary in her playpen
Tacoma Park, Maryland
Mary in second grade
Lansing Township, Michigan
May of 1953
My Armenian Genesis
My dream was now tangible . . . just beyond my reach, but within hope's sight. I would soon walk through the looking glass, from the two-dimensional world of the wrong side of the mirror, where light is reflected from but not felt in its solar warmth, to the world where people are REAL and are connected to each other by the bonds of blood. The subtle, yet cruel deception was over. Like Pinocchio, who in the end became a real boy, I was now an AUTHENTIC human being, not a generic entity who had to pretend to be someone who didn't exist re: natural laws/DNA compatibility. I had ancestors. I had ethnicity. I finally had my entire adoption file unsealed by the state of Maryland. These documents contained the truth of who I was and where I came from. I had an actual hospital birth index card, dated SEPTEMBER --, 1945. My first breath of life took place at Old Providence Hospital, SE which was located in Washington, D.C. Judith Movsisian was born on Sunday at 1:10 p.m. and weighed six pounds, two ounces. Attending physician, Catherine Johnson, MD, was an obstetrician at this large, Catholic hospital.
My four children, grandchildren, and all descendants, yet unborn, inheritors of my Armenian/British Isles/American Indian ancestry, had my legacy: my firstborn, a girl, would be the first great grandchild of my Armenian immigrant grandparents. None of them would ever have to live in the existential "black hole" of being in the flat, lifeless side of a mirror, as I had for nearly half-a-century. Now we all could claim our Armenian heritage. Our Hye birthright shall not be erased or deleted.
My Armenian genesis lives beyond my birth. Mother Armenia, we are returning home. My children, grandchildren, and I, and all future family members, shall be Armenians forever. No longer lost, we have finally returned to claim our birthright.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
MY ARMENIAN GENESIS (Page 7)
THE STRANGE ODYSSEY OF AN ARMENIAN GIRL (Page 11)
RETURN TRIP (Page 33)
OH, MY GOD! I'VE FOUND BABY!! (Page 45)
WAITING (Page 59)
BONDING BY BLOOD (Page 73)
THOU SHALT HONOR THY FATHER AND THY MOTHER (Page 87)
PLEASE PASS THE SHISH KABOBS (Page 113)
THE FIG TREE (Page 137)
LET NO MAN PUT ASUNDER (Page 167)
ON THE MOUNTAINTOP (Page 207)
THE LONE SURVIVOR (Page 231)
EPILOGUE: A LEGG TO STAND ON (Page 247)
BEYOND THE MAGIC MOMENT (Page 261)
Mary in her junior year
Michigan State University
East Lansing, Michigan
September of 1965