Danielle Parnagian and Armen Bacon
DescriptionDanielle Parnagian (40) talks with her mother, Armen Bacon (68), about her memories of childhood and spending time with her grandmother, and reflects on the importance of community, family and friendship in her own life.
Subject Log / Time Code
- Danielle Parnagian
- Armen Bacon
Venue / Recording Kit
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00:06 I am Armen bacon. I am 68 years old. Today is Monday March 2nd 2020 and we are in Fresno, California, and I'm going to be interviewing my daughter Danielle and
00:22 I love her. My name is Danielle parnagian. I'm 40. Today is Monday, March 2nd 2020. We are in Fresno, California and
00:34 I'm doing an interview with my mom Armen bacon.
00:39 Well Danielle in honor of your 40th birthday. I'm interviewing you today kind of a perfect time for us to stop pause and reflect on our journey so far. So I'd like to ask you a few questions maybe start by just getting comfortable here and sharing with me a few sentences about yourself when you were born where you were born and raised where you live and what your life status is right now.
01:08 Let's see. I was born in 1979 in December right before Christmas and I was raised in Fresno California with my brother my parents and went through school in Fresno and until I went away to school at the University of Southern California where I lived in La for for 4 years and then fell in love and move back home and I have now been married for 18 years and have four children and Live 5 minutes away from you while you answered all my questions. I think we're just about done know Danielle. What is your earliest memory in childhood? And what was it like growing up in the bacon family?
01:59 My earliest memory
02:02 Can I have a hard on? Let me think?
02:09 Sotomayor earliest memories are center around kindergarten having a hard time going to kindergarten crying a lot. I remember that I remember making gingerbread houses with u kindergarten. That's one of my earliest memories and
02:24 Before that I don't remember much and it was we had a good childhood iPhone, was fun. I remember
02:34 Playing with all the neighbor kids in the big tree in the front yard and
02:39 Play with the kachadoorian kids having really great neighbors and having a really fun childhood. Do you have any favor to special school memories aside from being afraid and kindergarten?
03:00 You know what we can come back to that. Let's talk about family for a minute, LOL. What are some of your special memories about Grandma Z and Nanny?
03:13 Grandma z. I remember C making jam with her and cream puffs once-a-year her taking me to God shocks every August to do back to school shopping.
03:24 Spending the night occasionally.
03:27 Fourth of July barbecues at her house with you guys and Alex of all the cousins and hot dogs right on. And doing fireworks and Fowler and her curio cabinet with all her class trinkets in it.
03:46 And how about Nanny? What are your best memories about nanny?
03:58 I've been going through all of our scrapbooks and I'd forgotten that. My dad was still alive when you were born. You were the first grandchild and he I never saw him as happy as when he was holding you as an infant and I don't know if you have any memories. I don't think you probably do about him that I see the pictures but I don't have any memories of that Nanny though. I have a whole lifetime of memories with her. What's your earliest memory with her? Do you know can you remember?
04:32 I think so. Give me a second.
04:43 Cooking with her learning how to sew
04:46 Spending a lot of time at her house, and I'm trying to think of something a lot of her storytelling passing down Family Recipes coloring with her with her 10 coloring box, and she had from when I was five 2:35 and learning to embroider. I remember doing knots and embroidery with the
05:13 In her sewing room and letting her
05:16 Spending a lot of time doing craft projects cutting up fabric putting it on poster board.
05:22 Her taking us to lunch every Friday when we were in elementary school and how cool it was that she picked us up on Fridays. I think she picked Alex up on a different day going to Taco Bell with her and
05:36 What else I'm trying to think, you know, the fact that you grew up in a full-blooded Armenian family bundle size of the you know, both dad side in our side. We're 100% Armenian which makes you a hundred percent Armenian. I always thought that was a huge gift to give us a gift to me and it was a gift I think for our children to be full breads, you know hundred percent Armenian. What it what kind of memories do you have about growing up Armenian?
06:08 Just at the family-centric nature of our family and our culture and being proud of how committed we were to each other and other people just for the sake of any remaining Lee Metz Lewis instantly became family and
06:23 What a blessing it was to grow up with all of your friends being our aunts and uncles and extended family. And I think as I've gotten older I appreciate the value of that more that you shared us with other people and I think a lot of people don't do that and I think that there are times in your life when you rely on others and you guys scared us a lot and
06:48 That makes for a very big and full life. So during the best of times and the worst of times it makes it a little more enjoyable in a little bit easier to have so many people around you that kind of have the same value system is used in culture same routes. And as I've gotten older it's neat to see multi-generational. We have a lot of four generation friends of nannies that have now or your friends are friends and our children are friends and I think that's really rare and we're all deeply rooted and I think it gives you a sense of security growing up and as you get older and I think trying to pass that along our children to bed.
07:27 The people that we meet that are
07:29 Armenian in our family and our culture that those are people they can rely on that have the same value systems and love them. No different than we do pretty amazing. I always think about how all the dots connect and how we meet people and after we say one or two things. We realize we have so many other people in common and friends and then our children as you mentioned become end up becoming friends and the duffle can actinic create a pathway that's safe and secure for everybody. Yeah, pretty painful my was tell the kids if friends come and go but family is forever, but the definition of family is not just blood family. It's who you choose to be your family and I think both sides of our family have always been fairly small, but I would say that we have one of the largest families that I know just for us because we're willing to share
08:23 Share the people we love with other people and I think that that's something that a lot of people don't do because it takes a very selfless mother father to not be threatened by other people loving your children. So I think that our network is very strong and that's something I'm trying to pass down to that the kids you talked a little bit actually just shared some of the life lessons you've learned already that the young age of 40, are there any specific life lessons that you feel like nanny and parted to you or that Grandma Z and parted to you or you know that the fact that we are family has gone to some huge trials and we've been tested to the ultimate. Are there any looking back on your life so far are there lessons that you learned as a result of some of this tragedy and sadness that we've all had to endure?
09:27 I think so.
09:31 Having a opening your heart to people that need.
09:34 Being selfless with your heart and being empathetic to others and trying to leave.
09:41 Every person every place a little bit better than you found. It was something that I think even Nanny even though she didn't have a lot. She made a huge impact on people places organizations her community is that I think that's one thing I learned from her when that was the first part of the question and I think she
10:07 Taught me to be generous with my time. I think that that's something that is ice. I mean everybody struggles within this day of phones and technology and but she was things were very simple and she was very generous and time was her most precious resource and she shared it very freely and not just with us, but with other people that needed it and cheats.
10:26 Shared her gifts, whatever those gifts were with others. And I think that that's something that
10:33 We saw her do as children then we watched you do as we got older and I think that that's something that you cannot you can't preach it without you have to walk the walk talk the talk. You have to teach your children by example to care about others by caring about others not boots not by just telling them to care about others and
10:55 Teach your children to want to make the world a little bit better than the way they found. It is something you do by example and not just by writing checks, but by pulling up your sleeves and putting in the time and mimicking for them what you know time away from them is spent sometimes doing things for the greater good and I think that doesn't think Manny did you did and I think
11:23 Sharing your gifts with others and making your children aware that not everybody has it is great as we do and
11:33 I think to live that life is fragile, and we don't know trying to live in the moment and live out loud and tell people that you love them and not hold grudges and think appreciating people for who they are.
11:50 Has taken me quite a long time to get there, but I think that everybody's different and everybody brings unique gifts to your life and not everybody has to be exactly not everybody is exactly meet every single requirement that you need. I think you build a life around yourself to you know, make an army of people our tribe of people that can support you in the ways you need to be supported.
12:17 I think not leaving time on the table with people that you love. That's one thing I've learned. That's so true when we talked about nanny. I don't think anything made her as happy as the day. I came home and told her that I had met the love of my life dad and that he was full. In Armenian. And I know that the probably the only thing that did make her happier than the day. I went home with the day when you went to her house and told her that you have fallen in love with Grant and that he was full-blooded Armenian. And so if we could maybe Segway a little bit and talk about how did you meet Grant and and how did you know that he was the one and how important was it that he was coming in?
13:07 I think it was like unspoken I think about that a lot with my own kids cuz I don't I don't ever have a memory of you or Dad saying you have to marry someone who's Armenian again. I think it was more you set the example and the expectation was really high and it was all it was.
13:24 I mean for a for a Time life was life was easy to remember it as an in childhood. We watched you have a very wonderful marriage strong family and everyone around us kind of we were kind of surrounded by people that loved each other and love their family and loved their friends and lived a similar way than we did and I even think even if they weren't Armenian, I noticed that I noticed that a lot about our childhood the people that were around us whether they were our culture or not. They everyone did Cher
13:58 There is Common Ground in our
14:01 Commitment to family values and
14:07 And I think I don't know. I think that I just I it was unspoken that I just wanted the same thing for myself it seemed easier to
14:17 I can chew. I actually I'm going to go back. I think even just Sunday school memories family gatherings the food the music the cultural like I always envisioned myself having that that life for myself not because there was any threat to fight that I had to but just because I wanted that and I respected you and Dad and the people around us and
14:41 Well, I had a lot of fun dating people that were in Armenian and I didn't really ever see any of those people being forever. But then I met Grant well or families had a history. So that was one thing and I knew he had a wonderful family and then we met at a wedding in.
15:01 Mm. Mm.
15:06 I just fell in love and I just knew I just knew we wanted the same things out of life and I can see a future with him that made sense and
15:14 It just seemed I just fed. It was just an easy fit. It didn't nothing about it was hard or challenging and we had fun together and we were most certainly very different but I think we complemented each other and
15:30 I think from day one. He loved the people that I loved and I think that's another huge indicator because I think it's
15:38 You don't know how much someone loves you until they love the people that you love and
15:42 I don't think that's always the case with everybody well and you have now you have four beautiful children and how how has becoming a parent changed you and has it in the house it changed your relationship with Grant and your outlook on the world. I know it's I mean it's a big deal for babies. And I know you have a lot of hopes and dreams for them and their future and I know you have such a strong beautiful family life, but with that comes to and responsibilities of caring and nurturing them. So maybe you can talk a little bit about that.
16:26 I think we both.
16:29 Early on
16:31 We had the first two girls. I think it was very easy and manageable. And then when the twins came along they were the biggest blessing surprise blessing but having four children under the age of five was a lot of work a lot of responsibility and it was in a very short amount of time that all of them they were born. So I think we knew they were going to be huge sacrifices to be made very early on and I'd say we made significant sacrifices for almost 10 years of not spending time away from them that wasn't necessary and
17:08 Doing what we needed to do to survive in the beginning but then just trying to figure out what kind of life we wanted for our family and managing. The four of them has definitely been a challenge but we're now at the point where we're going to go to Rhythm and War enjoying and being able to enjoy instead of just doing the day-to-day were able to enjoy them more and travel with them and I think I go to bed every night and pray for the best and that's all you can do. That's all I can do. I try to instill values and into all of them and leave by example and provide them with
17:47 Endless supply of lovin. So for the best because beyond that I can't there's no guarantees. And I think they're all great children, but I think I want them to know that they're always my first priority and I'll drop anything for any of them at any time and
18:03 That's coming out to sacrifice because I think
18:10 I've sacrificed a part of myself for that Grant sacrifice a part of himself. We've sacrificed apart a part of our marriage for that in the last name of the first 10 years, especially but it's in a better Rhythm now that there's more of them because we can enjoy them and we're not changing diapers 24 hours a day and doing bottles and all of those things and I'll be coming for Unique Individuals that I think we'll all make a mark on the world and hopefully leave it a little bit better than they found it while you kind of answered my next question, which was what was your do you have any special unique hopes and dreams for them that it sounds like what you're saying is that you want them to find their find it there and their own dreams and to be happy and I don't think there's any any definition for any of them. I don't have I want them to be healthy and happy that's the main thing. I don't whatever that looks like for. Each of them is up for them to decide and
19:04 I don't want to put any of our
19:07 I want them to find their own way and help them along the way but find out who they want to become. And do you have any do you have any funny or any stories that really stick about times that the four of you have spent together for them have been together with you and the ground that you'd like to memorialize forever. I mean special vacation or a special moment that when you were all together something magical happened, honestly, I think that I think mine's we focus too much on like the major moments and I think that the best moments for us are always the moments in between the little moments said
19:52 Just at home in between just it doesn't have to be some elaborate trip or you know, anything like that. I think we sometimes like hyper focus on trying to do the perfect vacation or the perfect trip or the perfect day. And in the end. It's really the most the moment that I remember most or just the ones at home where we have a laugh or somebody says something silly and Catches Us off-guard and
20:17 Those are the things I remember most I don't necessarily.
20:21 The big things I think it's more than moments in between that matter the most and I think for them that's what they remember. It's not for me. I think that we're doing this. I was thinking back about like things I remember nothing that I remember other than our annual trip to Santa Cruz. I do remember that that's like a butt like the other moments. I was thinking about his so silly but I was thinking about the Alex to So Random in the mornings on Saturdays, we go upstairs and then house and you had those two u-shaped Ottomans, they had like burgundy and teal and weed flip them put them over and sit in them and rock in them and be careful there were stable upholstery Staples and we'd watch like Saturday morning cartoons almost and flip their own way and that's like a very strong memory that I have the sister random moment in between. It's not, you know, anyting extraordinary. I do remember trips and things like that, but
21:18 When all the memories come to mind like the best memories with all our family, it's really not the
21:26 That what you would tell us what you would suspect or wasn't anywhere with anyone really exist.
21:31 Yeah, what's Hobbits talk a little bit about your tribe because I always see you surrounded you have beautiful wonderful girl friends and people who support you and you show up and there's a saying who sits in your front row and I think I kind of know who who that is 2 of those people might be but maybe you can talk a little bit about who sits in your front row who are what constitutes your tribe and and why?
22:05 Below my front row.
22:08 Would have started with Nanny that was she was always in my front row. She loves having a front seat and I think
22:17 She was the love of my life like I think.
22:24 To the fishing MTC
22:32 And then you obviously are the next person.
22:37 And always been present and always set a really good example for
22:43 What mothering in front what good friendship looks like so I think that I always say I think sometimes people are very I've had a lot of people tell me, you have such wonderful friends. Well, I think that's because you modeled what that looks like for me and even though you had sister they weren't here and I'd ever had a sister. So I think I watched you.
23:07 I mean from very early on childhood. I can remember your friends always, you know, very strong memories a lot of my memories her with all those people looking at your front row and
23:19 I think that.
23:22 Mike the strength of my friendships is a testament to the strength of yours and I actually into the strength of midnight. She had very good friends, too.
23:32 I think in my front row.
23:36 After like the UN Nanny obviously then
23:42 I would say I have a couple of different groups and I would start with like my longest-running friends. Like I think Blake who I know. She's my longest friend now that I've had the longest and she
23:57 Choose I remember in junior high she brought me and introduced me to a million people and I feel like she made my
24:04 Call Junior High School experience great cuz she welcomed me with open arms and she was always a good friend to me and
24:15 I hate times was not a good friend to her and I learned one of my biggest life lessons that if you apologize, sometimes you need to I think I've a I learned from her that we didn't speak for four years just because I was refused to apologize and I was stubborn. So that's one of my big lessons that I learned from her and now like no time has passed. She's in my front row and then I have my group of Lauren cousin. Lauren is in my front row and I have a lot of memories with her growing up. I remember Balboa Island. That's a big memory that I have with her and I think our lives have taken in a lot of ways very different roads, but in a lot of ways the same and I think we both shared a mutual love for Nanny. I think that's one thing I think because our moms are identical twins. We share a lot of
25:06 Both good things and no more bugs. We share that in common, too and
25:14 I think it's like miraculous that both of us had twins. I just think it's like such a miracle. And so I think that has been able to keep us even though we don't live in the same city. I think she's the one I talked to him was one once a day just to check in and we've kind of mother together. I think any probably orchestrated that as possible for all of it since she had Andi Ellison High and I mean the twin thing was such a gift to her. I still fish When I close my eyes, I see that picture of her proud as a peacock with Auntie Alice my behind her and you and Lauren and she's holding the newest set of twins and all the you know, it's pretty magical. Yeah, so I think Lawrence and important
26:02 A person in the front seat and I think most people in the front seat have been there for a long time. I think I have my
26:15 My girls have that I worked with the Debbie's office who we
26:19 Have a joke. Can we call ourselves girls gone Godly which is the said joke about just an inside joke, but I think Heather and Jamie.
26:27 In particular who I work with who I worked with and we've become lifelong friends and we all got married together and we all had children together and
26:39 Have experienced all the three of us have been particular have experience.
26:44 Significant hard times not together, but each of us in our own right and I think we've all shown up for each other and even though we're all busy and
26:55 Those girls always show up for me and I hope I always show up for them.
27:02 And and then Angie is the next person that I would think of in my front seat and she's like a sister. She's the closest thing that I have to a sister. She's
27:13 Been around for a long time and she's a pier and again, we've like live life together and that goes along with Courtney to Courtney and I have a very similar life and we each have four children. We both married right out of college. We went to college together. We were next-door neighbors. We each have three girls and a boy. They're all the same ages and our husbands enjoy each other. So there she's my day today person, you know when she gets it she gets the struggle. She's gotten the struggle from day one. So she I think we're very different in a lot of ways, but I think we're also
27:54 Very much the same.
27:56 And then
27:59 I think Kayla is it interesting person in my life. I think I believe in any sent her to me. I do she showed up the the same weekend and he died in a very strange way doesn't was the same weekend, and I think that
28:14 We have a very strong family history and she was a flower girl in my wedding and I think what goes around its come all everything's comfortable durable. Yeah.
28:25 And there's like thing. She's giving me over in the last couple of years that
28:31 I do believe it like timing is everything and like you're saying the constellation. I feel like there's all these little signs of strange things that have happened things that Nanny gave to her in church specifically like just things like that just
28:47 And we found like a baby picture of her of one of the kids and it was a near I had written on the back to my favorite family just weird little things and I do feel like
28:58 Nanny left me with someone that not to fill her place. And anyway, that's not what it is. But I think that there's something very special there and I think it's kind of like a little sister and I think
29:11 I think I've always been envious of people that have sisters you your you know, it's you know, it's lonely to not have a sibling. So I think she
29:25 I'm very much able to be myself with her and I think I'm able to ask for help. And I think that's something I struggle with. But for whatever reason I don't have a hard time asking her for help. So she's a person in my life in the last person. I would say is Jen saitta who's a new friend who is very different than me and we don't have a shared culture and she's not Armenian and
29:49 But I love her kids like my own and she's like
29:54 I seeing her a lot of things I say about myself too, and she's had struggles too. And I think we met each other at the right time and I hope that our family is always be closed and she teaches me a lot and I think I do the same for her and I think one common theme about the people in my front row as they are all people that love very hard. I love heart and they've all been through things and they're authentic and they show up cuz I don't have much time the kids. Don't allow me much time for anything else, so I need friends that are willing to show up, but also willing to give me a little bit of Grace and a little bit of space when I don't respond to the text messages and don't call back and
30:42 And they love me just the same. So I actually feel like I have a pretty heavy front row and
30:49 But I think that I learned that from you and I think you like love your friends like you no different than you do your sister is in a lot of ways. I think that
30:59 My the females in my life, I think I'm much more drawn to females are.
31:04 Are probably better than a sister? I could have ever imagined. So I feel really lucky and your modeling that for your girls for your kids and the that's pretty beautiful in before we run out of time. I want to say that this kind of experience for us to be able to talk and share your story today and I would be remiss if I didn't tell you that you're 40. I can't believe you're 40 because it seems like just yesterday you were born but Dad and I couldn't be more proud of the woman. You've become the wife that mother the friend you are to all those people in your front row and to the whole community and oh my God, we love you with all of our hearts and I know there have been times when we haven't been able to really give that to you because we have other things that needed our attention that demanded our time and attention and but just listening to your story and watching you in action makes me so proud to be your mom.
32:01 I love you. I love you, too.
32:04 I know it hasn't always been easy, but we learn and we have gotten through it and the best we can and we do our best tonight in the end of the day. I believe everyone's doing their best me up and you got to give people Grace and I'm doing my best. I think you're doing your best Dad's doing his best and
32:22 You know, I think we're still very fortunate and I wouldn't trade my life with anybody else. So and neither would I am so that's a pretty good story to be able to tell you have to say you wouldn't trade places with anybody at the end of the day. So I love you. I hope this is fun of him. Are you I love you, too. I'm not as painful as I thought it was going to be.