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The Calgary Service - Tuesday 29th August 2006 Print E-mail

The Rev. Fr. Komitas Mirzakhanyan and The Rev. Gordon Jackson presided over the funeral service, which was held at St. Stephen's Anglican Church.


The service began with Soorp Asdvadz sung by Isabel Bayrakdarian. 


As the Pallbearers (Alexander Skipwith, Michael Johnston, John Aldridge, Gregory Brennan, Raffi Goekjian, and Richard Sordi) entered the church, John Lennon's Imagine was played. 



By John Lennon

Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky

Imagine all the people
Living for today...


Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too

Imagine all the people
Living life in peace...


You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one


Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man

Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world...


You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one


Alexander Skipwith read the following poems: 


Come To Me
Author Unknown 


God saw you getting tired
and a cure was not to be
so he put his arms around you
and whispered,
"Come to Me"

With tearful eyes we watch you
and saw you pass away
and although we loved you dearly
we could not make you stay.

A Golden heart stopped beating
hard working hands at rest.
God broke our hearts to prove us
he only takes the best

She is Gone
By Anonymous

You can shed tears that she is gone
or you can smile because she has lived.

You can close your eyes and pray that she'll come back
or you can open your eyes and see all she's left.

Your heart can be empty because you can't see her
or you can be full of the love you shared.

You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday
or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.

You can remember her and only that she's gone
or you can cherish her memory and let it live on.

You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back
or you can do what she'd want: smile, open your eyes, love and go on.

 Marie Draper read the following:

A Prayer

By Anonymous

The death of someone we love and care about
Is like the death of part of us.
No one else will ever call out from within us
Quite the same responses, the same feelings or actions or ideas.
Their death is an ending of one part of a story.
Lord as we look back over Ashkhain’s life
We ask what we have received, what we can appropriate

And continue on in our own lives and what must be laid to rest.
Our love for her reminds us that our sharing
In one another’s lives brings both support and pain.
Our being parted from her reminds us of our own mortality
And that your love is enduring.

We thank you that our love for Ashkhain draws us together
And gives us a new appreciation of one another
And of the beauty and fragility of relationships
Which mirror your grace and goodness to us.

Lord, time’s tide may wash her footprints from the shore
But not our love for her nor the influence of her life upon our own

Nor the ways in which they will ever be a sign for us
Of those things which really matter—which are eternal.
Hear this prayer for your love’s sake.

Adaptation of Ecclesiastes Chapter 3

For everything there is a season
a time for every occupation under heaven
a time to be born, a time to die
a time for planting, a time for uprooting
a time for tears, a time for laughter
a time for mourning, a time for dancing
a time for searching, a time for loosing
a time for conflict, and a time for peace

 Shifting the Sun

 By Diana Der Hovanessian

 When your father dies, say the Irish, 
 you lose your umbrella against bad weather. 
 May his sun be your light, say the Armenians.

 When your father dies, say the Welsh, 
 you sink afoot deeper into the earth. 
 May you inherit his light, say the Armenians. 

 When your father dies, say the Canadians, 
 you run out of excuses. 
 May you inherit his sun, say the Armenians.

 When your father dies, say the French, 
 you become your own father. 
 May you stand up in his light, say the Armenians.

 When your father dies, say the Indians, 
 he comes back as the thunder. 
 May you inherit his light, say the Armenians.

 When your father dies, say the Russians, 
 he takes your childhood with him. 
 May you inherit his light, say the Armenians.

 When your father dies, say the English, 
 you join his club you vowed you wouldn't. 
 May you inherit his sun, say the Armenians.

 When your father dies, say the Armenians, 
 your sun shifts forever. 
 And you walk in his light.

 Chantey Aldridge and Sapna Dayal remembered their aunt with the following tribute:

To say that we idolised our aunt Ashkhain would be an understatement. Imagine yourself a child, waiting in anticipation for the Queen to arrive. Such excitement and happiness filled our hearts. Her arrival always came with beautiful and fun gifts and the latest in London fashion; wooden lady birds on wheels, funky stockings, leather bomber jackets, the must have mini, a glorious new sweater dripping with hand knit cherries and grapes, licorice allsorts, or bobbles and stripes, and that season's pair of Kelian boots, which we would oooh and ahhh over until she gave them up.

As children we admired Ashkhain's beauty, her worldliness, her eccentricities, and her high esteem. She'd light up our summer barbecue nights as she took to the dance floor with Patrick, he in his white linen suit and she in her most elegant, with a scarf low on the hips for belly dancing. Standing beneath her we'd watch her hips move with ease as her fingers chimed. She taught us to love our roots, and to celebrate culture and life whenever possible. As we grew older, Ashkhain's life stories and experiences enlightened and evolved our admiration for her and helped us to shape our own views of the world.

Ashkhain was born in Jaffa and grew up in Gaza, Palestine. This is where, in the comfort of her Armenian community, her love for the Arab world began. Through her formative years she experienced the joys of family, food, song and sunshine, as well as the pains of war and tragedy, all of which gave her a deep empathy for humanity.

It's no surprise that Ashkhain came to be such a wonderful nurse. Early in her career, she returned to Gaza to work at the Christian Missionary Hospital and then went on to specialize in oncology at the Royal Marsden in London and the Foothills Hospital in Calgary. Ashkhain was loved and respected by her patients, their families and her colleagues, though she was always very humble about the praise that she received.

Ashkhain's career as a nurse began in London in her early 20's, as did a new phase of her life. She surrounded herself by creative and inspiring people who went on to become life long friends. It was in England that her appreciation for a nice sherry, a platter of raw oysters at the pub, breakfast at the Chelsea Arts Club, the English countryside, travel to the Greek Islands and small Mexican villages, and of course a nightly dose of Coronation Street came to be. Though circumstances resulted in her moving to and from London several times throughout her life, she always maintained a very strong connection to England visiting often and speaking of it constantly. We were so fortunate to have had our aunt to visit in London where we both spent holidays being spoiled and inspired, walking the high streets, rummaging through antique markets, admiring her rose garden, being influenced by her amazing sense of décor, choosing wool for the next sweater she'd be knitting for us, learning to sit quietly absorbing the power of an Armenian hymn sung in Church, and cuddling in bed with Ashkhain, drinking tea and pretending to help as she cleverly solved the cryptic crossword puzzle in the Evening Standard.

As fate would have it, Ashkhain eventually returned to the Middle East, moving to Saudi Arabia with her husband and two step children, Sacha and Zara. Re immersed in the Arab world, she rode horses through the dessert, entertained the masses with her delicious cooking, and kept everyone on their toes with her sharp wit. There she published three books of Middle Eastern cookery, and started what came to be a collection of three books of Arabic proverbs, which she co-authored. Ashkhain was a great storyteller and derived such pleasure from recounting all of the fortunes that bestowed her.

We feel that we were the lucky ones to have had Ashkhain living here in Canada for the last ten years. She cared selflessly and compassionately for our grandmother. Having her close by allowed our relationship to blossom and deepen. We both agree that never a decision has been made during the course of our lives without consideration for what Ashkhain would advise. All of our greatest achievements have come with her by our sides and in our minds. We took to heart the instructions she inscribed to us in her first book of proverbs, “When Old Cocks Crow, Listen Well!” She always taught us to aim high by first and foremost seeing ourselves for all that we can be. She believed in me (Chantey) as an artist and I thank her for giving me the confidence to put on shows and display and sell my art. Without her I may not have done it.

And in our darkest hours, she held us close and offered unconditional comfort, assurance and guidance. Watching her grieve and support my sister (Sapna) in what has been the most challenging experience of her life, showed me just how deeply connected we are.

Ashkhain will be dearly missed by so many people around the world. The emails, phone calls and letters from abroad are a testament to the number of lives that she touched. Each correspondence has come with stories of adventure, friendship, and day-to-day memories of life with Ashkhain.

We will remember Ashkhain in so many ways and we will attempt to carry on with the legacy that she has imparted upon us. She was an elegant woman, full of grace, intelligence, kindness, humour, generosity, integrity, creativity and without dispute, she made the best salad dressing of all . Please join us in our prayers, that Ashkhain's soul be remembered and cherished and that she rest in peace.

We can see you now Ashkhain, with your radiant smile and polished nails, wearing a Kenzo suit and wedge heals, your arms reaching towards the beat of the tabla...and in your charming way you ask...Shall We Dance?

As friends and relatives left the Church, Chopin's Prelude was played.

Ashkhain chose the music that was played at the service prior to her passing.

© 2018 Ashkhain Skipwith - a celebration