By Nora Armani
“Nora, we lost Nora.” Edmond’s email message was short, crisp, clear, yet characteristically poetic. Nora Ipekian-Azadian, my namesake, my friend, my inspiration, my ex-mother-in-law, and my now-mother, was no more.
It was not the news I had not expected to hear; only I wish I never did. She was, after all, well advanced into her late 90s and lived a long fruitful, and inspiring artistic life. She gave so much to so many through her teaching that spanned more than one generation and with her example she blazed a trail for us all to follow in her footsteps.
Nora was exceptionally larger than life. She was radiant and lighthearted, not letting any mishap shape her life or define her. Instead, she always saw the positive side of everything and spotted a silver lining even in the most adverse of situations.
I learned a lot from her at first by briefly observing her from a distance, but this did not last long as she left the Armenian community in Egypt, where I grew up, to embrace a new life with her soulmate Edmond Azadian in America. Later, fate brought me closer to her when I had the privilege of becoming her daughter-in-law as I married her son Gerald Papasian. During those years my apprenticeship continued and my admiration of Nora grew exponentially. She became my confidant, my guide, my friend, and my inspiration.
Our first encounter, unbeknownst to me, had taken place much earlier when at the age of 10 and 11, for two consecutive years, Nora had awarded me the first prize in poetry recitation in the competitions held at the Armenian Artistic Union club in Cairo. Years later she told me that she had said to her fellow jury members, referring to me, “She is a promising talent and would go far with the right guidance.” Fate had it that the guidance Nora was wishing for would come from her own son when only a few years later Gerald would direct me in my first play on that very same stage at the Armenian Artistic Union in Cairo. And thus had begun my long artistic journey in which Nora Ipekian-Azadian had played an important part along with her husband, Edmond Azadian.