Lucy Dumanian: On Higher Ground

“Take my hand and lift me higher
Be my love and my desire
Hold me safe and honor bound
Take my heart to higher ground.”
… Barbra Streisand (“Higher Ground”)

CHELMSFORD, Mass.—Lucy (Dulgarian) Dumanian lived a good life.

She raised three wonderful children who clung to their Armenian roots, was a dutiful wife and housekeeper, was college-educated during a time when education was at a premium, and worked 34 years with the federal government.

Lucy (Dulgarian) Dumanian
Lucy (Dulgarian) Dumanian

Prior to that she taught school and never wasted an opportunity to exercise an act of kindness. Lucy enjoyed life to the fullest before death took her Aug. 27 at the ripe age of 91.

Do you believe in divine intervention? How many of us have lived through close encounters, maybe felt a spirit tugging us toward an enriched destiny?

Lucy’s death did that. It led me to a spiritual path toward higher ground. For that was Lucy’s sanctuary at her burial.

As I always do on a long trip, I select a piece of music for my listening pleasure. It’s usually a CD I have prepared in advance. But on this day, I allowed fate to play my hand.

I reached into the side compartment where my CDs are stored and picked one out at random. Whatever it was, that would be my selection for the ride to Lucy’s funeral.

The CD that fell into my hand was Barbra Streisand’s 1997 recording of “Higher Ground,” which I had picked up at a second-hand store for a dollar. It was the second song on the track behind a spiritual gem called “I Believe/You’ll Never Walk Alone.”

The lyrics grabbed me instantly and I caught myself singing along with Barbra.

Turns out the studio album was the 27th in this diva’s repertoire, though her first in 4 years, selling more than 5 million copies worldwide.

Let it be known that up to this moment, I had yet to hear the track. It had remained secluded in my car for months before answering an impulse.

“Walk me over this horizon

Let the sun’s light warm my face

Once again the times are changing

Once again I lost my way.”

At the church, it was said that Lucy was the light of the earth, a ray of sunshine on a dreary day. She was a lifelong resident of Chelmsford and wed 53 years to her husband John before he passed.

Her children Audrey, Andrew, and Robert were members of the Armenian Youth Federation and lent their support to many functions. Lucy had spent her working life with the Electronic Systems Division of Hanscom Air Force Base after teaching at Chelmsford and Orange High Schools.

The funeral procession wound its way along the highway to a side road leading to the cemetery, past the headstones to what looked like a cul-de-sac where the entourage came to a halt.

Mourners were led up a steep hill to a site under an elm tree overlooking the entire premises. Lucy’s ground couldn’t have gone any higher unless you were buried on a mountain. The view was like another Streisand song, “On a Clear Day, You Could See Forever.”

She was laid to rest with her husband John where a graveside service was conducted by Rev. Fr. Khachatur Kessablyan. Had Lucy picked this spot after being inspired by the Streisand song?

Turns out, it was the other way around. Her husband had suggested the idea—not to be above their peers but more to serve as a watchtower. Of course, the view from the top didn’t hurt matters.

The story about the CD unfolded at the mercy meal that followed. My copy was passed along to Lucy’s children for their listening pleasure, keeping their mother in mind.

“I would trade the wealth of ages

For a warmer hand to hold

The path of light is narrow

But it leads to streets of gold.”

Rest in peace, Lucy!


Tom Vartabedian

Tom Vartabedian is a retired journalist with the Haverhill Gazette, where he spent 40 years as an award-winning writer and photographer. He has volunteered his services for the past 46 years as a columnist and correspondent with the Armenian Weekly, where his pet project was the publication of a special issue of the AYF Olympics each September.

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