Virginia & Grace Parsekian

Mother-Daughter Wisdom and Fortitude

Virginia-Parsekian web

Meet two vibrant and engaging women who are masterful at connecting with people and dancing with life. They are both adventurers at heart and have had incredible opportunities to make friends from all over the world and travel to exotic destinations.

Grace Parsekian was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1913 to immigrant parents from Turkey. The Great Depression influenced her at a young age to be frugal. When she turned 18, Grace took a job sewing clothes in a doll factory, which later blossomed into a lucrative career as a seamstress. The owner of Forbes Magazine once employed her as a nanny. Grace and her husband raised three accomplished children in Bethpage, N.Y., on Long Island. She has four granddaughters, five grandsons, and 11 great-grandchildren who adore her. Her passion for travel has taken her to 25 countries. 

After her husband’s death, Grace relocated to Hilton Head Island. She designed her home in Port Royal Plantation and settled in. Soon finding herself restless and bored, she took a job at Harris Teeter. She loved to greet people at the checkout and share tidbits of wisdom. Grace reluctantly retired at age 95, but says she would go back to work today if she still could drive. She misses the customers and the employees and they miss her. 

Grace is a strong, healthy and vibrant centenarian. She loves to cook. She exercises and lovingly tends to her garden every day. She takes vitamins and proudly reports that she does not need any prescription medications. She says: “I look, I see, I do what I need to do.” Her philosophy obviously works for her!

Virginia Parsekian is the youngest of Grace’s three children. Virginia has four grown sons and six young grandchildren who are the loves of her life. Recently single, she is embracing the freedom and self expression that this lifestyle offers. Pray, Mont., was home for the last 25 years. Located near a national park, she and her family enjoyed the best of outdoor living—hiking, hunting and fishing. She came to Hilton Head Island in December 2013 to be a companion and support for her mom.

A woman of many talents, dance is at the top of her favorites list. Virginia is proficient in, and has taught, jazz, ballet, Russian, Spanish, Armenian and belly dancing. When her children were young, she created two dance enrichment programs at their school: “Dancing Through the Ages” and “Dancing around the World.” Virginia is a lifetime student and practitioner of many healing modalities, including reflexology. She once was a breeder of Westie Terriers. For 16 years she owned and operated a bed and breakfast on the family property. Her greatest satisfaction was getting acquainted with the guests and exchanging stories and wisdom. She has been invited to visit many in different parts of the world. Her dynamic, effervescent personality was the perfect match for this venue. 

Recently , Virginia authored her first children’s book entitled “Change Happens – It Always Does,” a resource for helping kids to understand and cope with transition, loss, and grief in their vulnerable young lives. Her future plans are to travel to Colombia, South America, to live with a Latino family. Cultural and language immersion, along with lots of adventures, are Virginia’s intentions.

When I asked her where she gathers her wisdom, she said Vipassana meditation has been her foundation. “This practice teaches moment-to-moment surrender, letting go-letting God and patience,” she explained. Virginia is also an avid student and practitioner of “A Course in Miracles.” She shared that being her mother’s caregiver and living together in the same house as two strong adult women continues to be one of the most challenging opportunities in her life for “rapid maturation.” The good news is there is growth at any age.

Up Close:
Words of Wisdom from Grace:
“Be wide awake.” 
“Always try your best.” 
“Don’t pass up opportunities.”
“Always keep learning.” 
“You must follow through.” 
“Keep on going.”

Virginia’s Words of Wisdom:
“Stay in the present moment.”
“Go inside. You have all the answers within.” “Just be still and listen.”