Suren . . . it means strong

Vahan, Suren & Dora Varjabedian c.1940

My father passed away recently though his memory still seems present in my everyday life. I find myself sometimes pondering great moments we shared on trips from Alaska to Alberta, from South Dakota to Saskatchewan, and the life lessons I learned while being his son. I learned the value of hard work while working alongside him in a factory in Detroit and I learned the value of treating people well by the example he set. He was a good man.


If our goal as parents is to provide a life for our children that is better than ours, then my father certainly measured up. He was the only child of a man who owned a diner all his life and to whom financial security was often elusive. My Dad worked hard in high school and instead of choosing a path to some quick money working in an automobile plant, he heeded the advice from some now long forgotten teacher at W.D. Lowe Technical School, in Windsor, and drove a cab on weekends to pay his way though engineering school at the University of Michigan. I view all of this now through the lens of someone who lives in an enchanted land far away from the clamor of making of automobiles in Windsor and Detroit where my father worked and hope that I did as well as my father did as my own daughter gets ready to leave for college and then goes out into the world to make her mark. Of some note, my daughter carries forward an important piece of my father’s legacy. Seventeen years ago, upon her birth, we named her Rebekkah Suren; “Suren” meaning “strong” was also my father’s very appropriate first name.


So I write this missive about my father because I do not know how else to express my profound appreciation for all he did for me. If it had not been for his deep understanding and his confidence, and his belief in what lay unknown and unexpressed in me, I would have never been able to develop in the way I have. It is my sincere wish that in whatever I have been able to contribute through my work with a camera that I have somehow found a way to honor my father and all he taught me. I want to believe that I can hear him saying right now, “that’s fine son . . . now keep working.”

Thanks Dad.