In the prologue to his book, “Lamentations of a Dad: How Takeaways Led to Comebacks” (Halo Publishing International, $15.95), 1955 Roosevelt High School graduate Gene Nalbandian tells readers he wants to share how life can “take away” and provide “a comeback.” He will be at the First Armenian Presbyterian Church Wednesday, Sept. 28, to talk about his book and these ideas.
Nalbandian has dealt with the greatest takeaway any parent can face: the death two years ago of his youngest son, Derek. He’s had to face the realization that Derek was gripped by a drug addiction that Gene describes as being so strong “no amount of love, support or money could overcome.”
The years trying to help his son fight the addiction and the aftermath of his death have been a nightmare for Nalbandian. His intention with the book is to share what that experience was like for him and to explain how he coped.
Part of his coping mechanism is the book.
“Writing the book was cathartic. I was trying to understand what I was going through having lost a child. I was trying to find a reason it happened,” Nalbandian says.
He reveals how the loss was magnified because of his Armenian heritage. Nalbandian’s godfather, George Mardikian, was influential in bringing young Armenian families to America during the 1915 Armenian Genocide. The author’s experience has been that Armenians don’t talk about what they faced because of the shame they feel because of their child.
Much of what he learned came while growing up in in Fresno. He played baseball at Roosevelt High and then attended Fresno State College, where he played for coach Pete Beiden. Nalbandian signed with the Chicago Cubs, but he was injured in the last game of spring training and ended his major league career.
“When I realized my life dream was over, I moved on and got into grad school at UCLA. I was fortunate because I was Armenian and the chancellor had me raise $2.5 million for Armenian studies,” he says.
Nalbandian found success in business. He holds three patents and founded an ice cream franchise in the ’70s. He’s co-founder of the Fresnotizis, a group of Armenian-Americans who have accomplished careers as judges, lawyers, publishers, businessmen and retired professional athletes.
The book gets most of his attention these days. Ever since it was released in May, Nalbandian has been getting letters from people who found it helpful.
“What got me through it was a strong faith and strong belief system. That helped me. I also knew I needed to write about it,” Nalbandian.
Knowing he needed to put his feelings in print was a lot different than doing it. After a year of thinking about it, he started the 18-month process of writing.
Lisa Umina, founder and president of Halo Publishing International, says Nalbandian offers readers an inspirational message as a father, entrepreneur and mentor. She recommends the book to those just starting a business as well as parents.
Nalbandian’s talk at the First Armenian Presbyterian Church will touch on his Fresno roots, business, the Armenian community and dealing with a great loss.
“It hasn’t always been easy,” Nalbandian says. “However, through all of my life, there have been opportunities to learn and grow. I hope readers will take away information they can use in their own life.”
Nalbandian will sign his book before the talk. You can buy a copy at the Halo Publishing, Amazon or Barnes and Noble websites.
Also new in print
“Breaking Bread with William Saroyan” (Heliograph Publishing, $29.99): A book launch for the latest work from Pat Hunter and Janice Stevens will be at 4 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 29, at Gallery II, 1490 W. Shaw Ste. G in Fresno.
This is an authentic Armenian recipe book derived from the heritage of William Saroyan. The book features recipes reprinted from author and restaurateur George Mardikian’s 1942 book, “Dinner at Omar Khayyam’s,” as well as recipes taken from the First Armenian Presbyterian church and other Armenian cookbooks.
It includes more than 40 original watercolors by Hunter.
Talk and book signing
- 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 28
- First Armenian Presbyterian Church, 430 S. First St.