Anna Yeshilian is one of those magnetic women who, upon first introduction, stays with you and refuses to leave.
If you’re lucky enough to run across her some day at the Armenian Museum of America—or anywhere else in the Watertown area—simply stick out your hand.
She’ll greet your acquaintance, then pop something in your palm. A small token of appreciation for your friendship and love, that’s how Anna puts it.
Look at it and rejoice. It’s not just one of those refrigerator magnets we have attaching our photos and business cards to the door. Instead, it’s the size of a dollar coin, containing a 3-D setting of a dove flying above the twin peaks of Mount Ararat on blue felt.
Anna makes them by the droves and hands them out like rampant business men with their calling cards. She’s got one of those business cards, too.
Anna Araxy Yeshilian: organist – pianist – and her Watertown address. Off to one side is another artistic touch of two roses, one in bloom and the other waiting to blossom.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. “What’s the big deal, eh?”
Well, for openers, Anna is well past 90 and personifies life’s many passions. She’s a poster child for her generation and the brightest star in her galaxy. May we all be blessed with her spirit and fortitude.
We met a couple years ago at ALMA. She was always a faithful reader of my stories and wanted to let me know. In the process, I went to shake her hand and found the Mount Ararat magnet.
It’s one of those rare moments you want to package and preserve forever. I found out that she was a volunteer here and simply enjoyed greeting people and making them feel at home.
A couple weeks ago, I received a telephone call from Anna, wishing me well with my cancer, and congratulating me on the book, The Armenians of Merrimack Valley. I was enamored by the gesture. How often do you get a call from a 90-plus woman who chirps a happy song?
Anna called to let me know she was sending along 100 of these Mount Ararat magnets for me to distribute at Barnes & Noble during a book-signing.
“Wouldn’t it be better to give them out to Armenians?” I wondered.
“Oh, I’ll have plenty more for your appearance at the Armenian Museum,” she interjected. “It’s also important to share our beloved Ararat with the non-Armenian crowd.”
I was taken aback by those sentiments. The woman wants to share her craft with the world.
Shortly after, a box containing the magnets arrived at my home with a letter that was typed, not transmitted electronically. It was then that I discovered Anna to have an impediment.
Please let me share it with you:
“Well, here it is—a large package of 50 individual plastic packets with 2 each of the unique Ararat magnets which only I make. I enjoy it all.
“I have a severe right-hand tremor which has developed over the past several years but I’m keeping well occupied with these and other small craft items. I’ve been sharing them at bazaars.
“I do not have my Chevrolet any longer although I did drive for over 60 years. That’s no longer possible. I know you have some of these Ararat magnets from a previous meeting but please add a few more to your kitchen refrigerator.”
She signed off with a musical notation in her letter, a customary trademark of hers.
Some years back, I encountered Anna once again at a book-signing for author Margaret Ajemian-Ahnert. Margaret entered the literary world in 2007 with a gem titled, The Knock on the Door: A Mother’s Survival of the Armenian Genocide.
Who was there to greet the writer but Anna herself. And what did she place in her hand but one of those magnets, along with an Armenian cross she had also crafted. Ajemian-Ahnert was so stunned by the gesture, the words couldn’t quite manifest themselves.
In return, Anna received an autographed copy of the book.
For weeks and months that followed, Margaret always inquired about that interlude with Anna. The impression that was created that moment remained indelible.
“I’ve traveled the world, addressed large crowds, and met many interesting and lovable people,” the author noted. “Some of the more intimate people are found in the smaller communities. People like Anna represent the heart and soul of our heritage.”
Source: Armenian Weekly Mid-West