For the first time since 1986, none of us attended the AYF Olympics. 1985 was the year our daughter Armené was just eight months old. Our son Aram was just starting kindergarten. It didn’t seem practical to attend. Or so my reasoning went.
The reasons are pretty simple and straightforward this year. Armené got married to Michael Kapamajian on July 4th. Aram is getting married to Anoush Varjabedian on September 26th. I am starting a new business. So, the reasoning was the same as in 1986. So, I told Judy the same thing. “It doesn’t seem practical to attend the Olympics this year.” Michael and Armené came to the same conclusion; Aram and Anoush the same.
None of got very far into Labor Day Weekend, when the practicality of it all was overwhelmed by “what were we thinking? Why aren’t we in Providence?” This was pretty close to exactly how we felt in 1985... at least it was how Judy and I felt. Aram and especially Armené were too young to have been missing Olympics back then.
In this age of e-mail, texts, and cell phones, we were getting updates throughout the weekend. We heard about the hot competition between Providence and Philadelphia making for one of the classics Olympic Games of all time. We missed it. We heard about Hachig Kazarian retiring on the fiftieth anniversary of playing his first Olympics, also in Providence. We heard about the touch speech and presentation our good friend Mitchell Shoushanian made to Hachig. We missed it. We heard about another wonderful Water Fire concert. We missed it.
We began to question my decision even before the weekend started. On September 1st, my cousin David Gavoor sent an e-mail:
Subject: I can't believe y'all won't be in Providence this weekend!!!
Message: It is just wrong, and on many levels!!!
We missed seeing old friends. We may only them once a year at Olympics, but we see them. These are people we have known almost all our lives, whose children we have watched grow up, and whose children are our children’s friends. For example, every year for as many as I care to remember, we end up, totally unplanned mind you, to have dinner with Peter and Marianne Bonjuklian. It is one of the great Olympic coincidences. We catch up and have a great time. There are so many other people. That is the magic of attending every year. And this year, we missed it.
We did get an Ad Book. Judy’s brother Jack was kind enough to drop one over the house upon their return. Judy and I fought over who would read it first. It was not much of a fight. As it was my “practical” idea not to go, Judy read the Ad Book first. There were many great ads. I was touched and loved the ads that honored those that have passed, especially our dear friend and Olympic King, Jack Papazian. I loved the simple ad, “Remembering Penny.” My sentimental favorite was the ad taken by “The Four Stepans”: Knarian, Piligian, Altounian, and Panosian. They had a photo circa 1976 and another taken within the past year. I smiled at the photo and thought that it doesn’t seem all that long ago…
It took us twenty-three years to forget how odd and, well, dumb it felt not to be at the Olympics. We missed the 1986 Philadelphia Olympics. Practical or not we plan to be in Philadelphia next year… all of us.