Monday, November 01, 2004

Today I attended a funeral for a friend that died of cancer. Abo was only 47 years old.

Though I only knew Abo for only 2 years, he was what I would call a true friend. Someone who helps out, standing by ones side and does not expect anything in return.

Abo and his family moved to Armenia in the 1960’s from Iran. He graduated from the polytechnic institute and at the start of perestroika, he and his father started a shoe factory. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the blockade and mass migration, they hit economic hard times. Abo ended up becoming a driver for A1+ news, later working for a friend of mine on an as needed basis.

My friend spoke today at the meal after the funeral and spoke of how Abo knew everything about everything, not just in a talkative way, but in an action way, helping my friend with projects my friend was doing in Lachin, contributing to their success.

Though I have only seen Abo probably in all a dozen times, half of those when he and my friend came to stay at my house in Martuni, the one encounter that stood out in my memory would have to be when my car was impounded in Yerevan due to my car having window film and me not having a valid drivers license.

It was back in November 2002 and after a long day of running around, on the way home, I was pulled over and ended up at police impound, being told that I would have to come back the following Monday to make arrangements to liberate my car.

I knew that if I could just call the Artsakh chief of traffic police in Stepanagert, I would have my car out in a matter of minutes, but there was no phone available to me (there was no such thing as Roaming in those days).

I called a close friend of mine from a phone that could only make local calls, knowing that this friend had a cell phone that I could contact Stepanagert on. When my friend answered, my friend said that they had guest from the US and were going some place in a half hour and would see if they could stop by to help out and I should call them back in a few minutes.

When I called back the friend, my friend told me that they could not come by as they would be late to their engagement, but they will check in with me later to see how I faired.

I then called a closer friend that didn’t have a cell phone, but knew people who he could maybe call on to help me out. He told me to wait and he would call me back. I got a call back a couple of minutes later, telling me that he was sending Abo down to the impound yard to help me out.

Not 10 minutes later, Abo pulled up in his white older model Volga 24. He got out of the car with a smile on his face, giving me a firm handshake and reassured me that everything would be okay.

Abo asked me what I propose we do? I told him I had a need to contact the chief of traffic police in Stepanagert, to which he pulled out his cell phone. I called a friend who gave me the phone number and then called the chief.

The chief told me to call him back in a few minutes, at which time, Abo’s cell phone which had an ez-card in it ran out of talk time. Abo and I drove off to my friend’s house, where I went to call the chief. While I was at my friend’s house, Abo went off to load his phone up with more talk time, of which he refused to take any money from me, even though I insisted, to which he told me that I’ve suffered enough already.

I understood from a call that Abo made while we were at my friend’s house that Abo had left some other work he was in the middle of to come help me out and had no intentions to return until after my issue was resolved.

We returned to the impound yard following the instructions of the chief and after being forced to peal off the window film from my car and paying a fine for the window film violation, we retrieved my car. Abo made sure I was on my way, following me in his car all the way to my friend’s house.

I guess the reason this encounter stuck in my mind was that before this, I had only seen Abo one time and I would not have called him a close friend, but he was the one that came to my aid in a real time of need, which the whole time I have been in Armenia and Artsakh, this was the only time that I really felt helpless and in need. So after a friend that I thought I was close to, who I would have dropped whatever I was doing to come to that friend’s aid, decided that the social engagement was more important, it was Abo that dropped everything he was doing and came to help me out, expecting nothing in return, showed that though we only knew each other in passing, he was what I would call a good, close friend.

At Abo’s funeral, I cried. I guess I was crying for me and my loss of a good and loyal friend. I guess I also cried because Abo’s mother and father attended the funeral and I know that this has to be the hardest thing for a parent to do. His 3 daughters ages 13 to 19 attended and knowing what I know of Abo, he must have been a great father, creating a stable loving environment for his family.

Anyway, today we laid to rest a good friend of mine, who I will miss dearly and I’m sure I will remember for a long time to come.

Rest in peace Abo.

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