Knights of the Armenian Round Table

We grew up together in the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF), went to camp, attended each other’s weddings, laughed and cried together in moments of happiness and sorrow.

Had King Arthur been around today, he would have appointed us knights to his Round Table because of our loyalty and commitment to one another.

In the end, friendship is the bond that has kept us together over the past 50 years. Ethnicity introduced us. Longevity has been our endurance.

I’ve heard it said that the best way to keep friendships from breaking is not to drop them. And like a bank account, we continue to draw upon it with a deposit. The investment is an easy one. Just be yourself.

We meet a couple times a year over lunch or at a house party, once with the guys (depending on when the “Senator” hits town from Detroit) and again with our wives. None of them are damsels in distress such as we may know.

We go by names like Armen and Kevork, Johnny and George, two Harrys and a Gary, a Leo, and yours truly. And we feed off one another at the dining table as well as the chit-chat room. Problem is, there are nine of us waiting to get a word in edgewise.

The Senator gets to sit at the head of the table, even though it’s rectangular. He’s the venerable Harry Derderian, who has created such a noted family in Detroit circles, he is someone’s dad and not the father of his children. That’s the way it goes sometimes when popularity eludes you.

For years, the Senator headed up the political realm around these parts and was a figure in his Armenian community. He hasn’t lost his touch when it comes to being a catalyst.

Harry Kushigian still lives his football days at Boston College. Armen Harootian was among the very best scorers in AYF history, delved in education, and now builds apartment complexes. Johnny Berberian needs no introduction. After 60 years, his musical instrument still does the talking. Kevork Tevekelian prides himself in his church and community, along with Gary Giragosian, who still pursues a career in law.

George Elanjian enjoyed a prominent career as an architect and helped conceive the Armenian Heritage Park in Boston with his financial wisdom. And I get to write about them as the journalist-in-residence.

So what do nine guys talk about at a conference? Well, there’s usually the grandchildren. Nice to know they’re all successful and superheroes with a lot of grandparental licensing. Let’s not negate the good old days when we were prima donnas on the athletic fields. Those halcyon moments cannot be forgotten.

We revel in our past and welcome the future with all our aches and pains. For the most part, retirement is a gift for those of us who are permanently removed from the workforce.

We felt the torment when one of us lost a grandchild and another was burdened with an illness. We rejoiced the inductions into a Hall of Fame and applauded the news of a sick grandchild making a full recovery.

It’s a lot like that sitcom “Friends” about six friends from Manhattan that ran for 10 years. You got to know every persona about the cast as if they belonged in your world.

They say that childhood friendships are meant to last forever, like your best chinaware. Many of my friends mean more to me than my own relatives. They keep in touch with greater frequency than many of my cousins who have drifted apart.

I guess you could also say my closest companions have become like an extended family to me. During sympathetic times, they lend their ears and their hearts. If I needed a handout, I wouldn’t hesitate to ask any of them. Not that I would.

George didn’t invite me to join his committee for the welfare of the Heritage Park in Boston; he politely told me. Maybe it was because he was in the driver’s seat giving us limo service to the semi-annual luncheon.

“I put you on my committee,” he divulged. “You don’t have to attend meetings. Just attend the fundraiser with your family and spread the word in your community.”

What I wouldn’t do for a “brother.”

“Sure, George, that’s the least I can do. I’m selling raffle tickets for $100 apiece. I’ll put you down for what? Ten? Give ‘til it hurts.”

I attended a funeral once where there was nobody except me and the surviving family. I looked around, somewhat dismayed. Geez, what a way to go!

The inevitable suddenly hit me hard. Didn’t this guy have a friend who cared?

And then, there was Charlie. He was always a friend in need. Distance never kept us apart. Whenever he needed a handout, he knew where to find me.

“You’re the best friend I ever had,” he kept reminding me.

“Sorry Charlie. A friend not in need is a friend indeed.”

Source: Armenian Weekly
Link: Knights of the Armenian Round Table

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