Friday, December 31, 2010

Grandma's Eulogy

At my grandmother's funeral on Thursday, December 16, we were blessed to celebrate her life with many family and friends at St. Paul Armenian Church. What follows is the sketch of my Eulogy that I had the honor of delivering to our gathered family and friends about my amazing Grandmother. Wishing everyone a very Happy New Year - may 2011 bring more joy and happiness to all.

Tribute to Grandma

There are so many lessons learned from my Medz. Most of you knew her as the sweet woman with a kind smile, a stylish hand knit hat, and a cane (honking story) who sang off key and was about 8 notes behind the choir in church. But here are some of the amazing lessons I learned from her and why I lit up with immense joy every time I was with her:

  1. “MEDZ” didn’t talk much
    1. my opinion: she lived in a house with me – nobody can talk much
    2. her opinion: “my time to speak has passed”
    3. LESSON: Talk less, listen more OR just rock in your chair and smile

  1. Dentures aren’t necessarily a bad thing
    1. In the time it took me to brush, floss, gargle and rinse, she had her top and bottom teeth out with the seltzer cleaner and was in bed.
    2. LESSON: Removable teeth are cool.

  1. Diversity is a God-given gift
    1. 5 fingers on your hand are different so why should people be the same?
    2. LESSON: Accept every one. Don’t waste your breath gossiping or fooling yourself to think you are better than others.

  1. It’s ok to let someone chew their food 58 times…even ice cream
    1. I watched and helped my grandma take care of my grandpa. And even when he would chew his ice cream, she stayed calm.
    2. LESSON: patience is a God given virtue. Don’t let anything upset you.

  1. Red Radishes are a dangerous food. Very dangerous
    1. Let’s just say I understood what “diffusion” meant very early in life.
    2. LESSON: Do not eat red radishes before you go on a date.

  1. Grandmas are the best referees ever – they always side with the grandchild
    1. Mother’s Day Card: “Thanks for saying yes all those times mom said no”
    2. “Asor hed mee veejapaneer. Tbrotzuh sorvazeh veejapanootyoon. Kulookh ches gurnar yelal.” Translation: Don't argue with this one (in reference to me). He did debate in school. You can't win!
    3. 2 LESSONS: 1. The “oghlum” (child) is always right. And 2. Choose your battles. You can’t win them all and there are some not worth fighting.

  1. Be wary of anyone who says “No speak English”
    1. Andrea was guaranteed to make Medz smile and she is CONVINCED that Medz understood every single word she heard in English. Confession: it's true - she did!
    2. Gma spoke Spanish, too! Telenovela stories
    3. Some phrases - explain each reference (all in two’s): “Go Astoria?” “Goot, goot.” “Open! Open!” “Cold! Cold!” 
  1.  MY FAVORITE PHRASE: this one didn’t need to be said twice – once was enough:
    1. Me: I love you!! Medz: I love you more!!
    2. Summarize with the Bible verse above the altar: “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

Monday, December 27, 2010

Grandma's ("Medz") Obituary

Tarafanda Mahdissian was a wonderful wife, amazing mother, doting grandmother, loving great-grandmother and an overall awesome person. She was born in Turkey around February 10, 1918 to Toros and Ossanna Kassabian. She completed an elementary education and worked as a seamstress until marrying Ohannes Mahdissian at the age of 16 in Lebanon. Her family was blessed with three children, Margaret Thomassian, Haigouhie Artinian and Hovsep Mahdissian. Later, she was blessed with six grandchildren (one who affectionately referred to her as “Medz”=grand) and two great-grandchildren.

Tarafanda was a model to her family of how faith can guide someone through the trials and tribulations of life. Her faith in God, caring demeanor, omnipresent loving smile and infectious laugh made a deep impression on all who were blessed to know her, to hear her advice, to listen to her stories and to laugh with her. She passed away at home early in the morning on Thursday, December 16, 2010 surrounded by her family.

Friday, December 17, 2010

C'est La Vie

My grandmother found eternal rest on Thursday morning, December 16, around 330am. The world and life will not be the same with out her. We are so grateful for the amazing time we had together and the lessons she taught us. We are thankful that she is no longer suffering and has rejoined her husband and parents and grandparents and all her friends who passed before her.

Funeral services to celebrate her life will be held at St. Paul Armenian Church in Fresno, CA on Tuesday, December 21 at 10:30am.

Thank you so much for all your support during this difficult time.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Thanksgiving Trip - Part 1: Buffalo

I only worked one full week - 5 business days - in the month of November. The first five days of November were all work days. But, the second week of November saw Thursday and Friday off for Veteran's Day and Furlough Day, respectively. Then, the third week I left for NY on Thursday, November 18, where I stayed until Thanksgiving now get the whole week off for Thanksgiving, so I wasn't ditching. "Not like in my day..." when only the day of Thanksgiving and Friday were given as vacation. Yes, November was great. The following series of posts over the next several days will document the awesome Thanksgiving week I had.

BUFFALO - 11/18-11/20:
I flew to Buffalo on Thursday and on Friday I met some incredible Doctors and Support Staff at the Women's and Children's Hospital of Buffalo - the only free-standing Children's Hospital in the region. It was an amazing place doing incredible work for the region's little people. I was most impressed by how kind every person was. It wasn't the fake "I'm tired but I will smile for you" kind - it was a genuine, welcoming kindness that made me feel wonderful to be there. After the interview, I was spending the night in Buffalo and had all afternoon to do something. So, with a potential future Residency colleague, we took the awesome advice of a Holiday Inn Buffalo Downtown employee to take the city bus to Niagara Falls. Forty-five minutes and $4 (the cost of an unlimited bus/rail day pass) later, we were dropped off in front of a huge Casino on the American side of the Falls. It was a pretty cold evening, so we got our obligatory Starbucks (thank God!) and walked the 10 minutes to Falls park. It would have been another 10 minute walk to the actual Falls, but we serendipitously came across a free trolley bus that made rounds around the park. It wasn't the walk we minded, it was the cold, so we got in the trolley. Three minutes later we were gazing at the top of the main falls - we couldn't really see the bottom of the falls because from our angle it was hard to see the inlet and there was a TON of mist...which at one point began blowing toward us and forced a quick retreat. But as always, the Falls are a majestic and amazing place to see - God's beautiful Hand in creation can't be denied here. We took the bus back to the hotel and about 60 minutes later, were seated at the Anchor Bar, anticipating our Buffalo Wings at the original restaurant that created the popular comfort food. It was yummy and a great way to cap an amazing time in Buffalo.

HOTEL: Holiday Inn, Downtown Buffalo. Residency Interview Rate $93.
  • PROs: Excellent location, awesome staff, free airport and local area shuttle.
  • CONs: Room decor and furniture is pretty outdated and shows wear. Housekeeping did an OK job, but there was definitely areas that hadn't been cleaned in a long time, both in the room and in public spaces.
  • Would I recommend this hotel to family and friends? Absolutely!
TRANSPORT: United Airlines (FAT thru SFO thru IAD to BUF)
I have to give United some MAJOR positive reviews here. I flew them to NY last week and back to FAT yesterday. I don’t know why all the United bashing goes on. I was supremely impressed! Every single employee I encountered was pleasant. Granted, every one of my flights left on time and arrived on time, if not a few to several minutes early. So I didn’t get to see them during irregular ops, but since the majority of the time they operate normal ops, they are doing a great job. The ticketing agents came up to help even at the kiosks. The gate agents did a great job of announcing up to the flights and every flight was boarded in a very orderly fashion so we didn’t have to all crowd around. And during the flight, I had some very kind, smiling, and overall pleasant and helpful flight attendants. I was blown away – United deserves some recognition for running a great operation. In fact, I am now seeking out United flights rather than trying to avoid them like the plague; they really made a great impression on me during this last trip.
Seating Tip: I got the sense that United is boarding its flights where those with window seats are in the higher boarding levels and those with aisles board toward the end, regardless of where in the plane your seat is located. So, if you want to make sure you are one of the first to board so you will have space in the bins for your luggage, choose a window seat. Otherwise, especially during the Holidays when it sounds like flights are going full, you may end up separated from any luggage that can't fit under the seat in front of you.

Stay Tuned! Coming Up in Future Installments:
  • Thanksgiving Trip 2010 - Part 2: Rochester
  • Thanksgiving Trip 2010 - Part 3: NYC