Remembering Adrian

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted,” Matthew 5:4
As we honor mothers in the month of May, we asked some
of our moms to share with us the stories of the children they
have lost. It is with courage, they pen these pieces.

By Iffat Garmo


It was the evening of February 18, 1998 when our entire life was changed forever. My youngest son, Adrian Peter Garmo, at the young age of 19 was killed in a liquor store hold up in the city of La Mesa, California. Adrian was covering for his father at the store while my husband was visiting Adrian’s grandfather who was sick in Michigan.

My son Richard, Adrian’s older brother, was working at another store and just hours before Adrian died, my son David had left the store to go on a skiing trip.

Everything was as it usually was. Losing my son never crossed my mind.

Adrian was the person that everyone would love to have around and every sibling would dream to have a little brother like him. He was a kind, loving sweet, thoughtful, and caring young man. He would go out of his way to be of help to others. Adrian had such a lovable personality. He was so smart; he never got into trouble with drugs or violence; he was not into drinking or smoking. He was not like other boys his age.

At the time of his death, Adrian was attending college. He was majoring in computer science. All his friends and family called him a computer whiz. He had started taking computer classes at the very young age of seven, during a time in which computers were hardly used – meanwhile he loved to fix, maintain and program computers for his friends and family.

He had plans for the future and was dreaming of his success, not only for himself, but for those around him. He would encourage his friends as well to do the same and now, years after he left us, his friends are living his dream.

Adrian enjoyed many things in life, many of which included his family, friends, and culture. He enjoyed taking classes on how to read and write our Aramaic language, which was taught by Father Michael Bazzi here at a local college in California. He was also very active; he loved all sports, but more specifically, he enjoyed football, soccer, baseball, karate and even wrestling. He was an amazing wrestler.

Above all else, though, he loved being around his friends and family, the people that loved him most. This is why he was always happy to go on the road trips we took together as a family or participate in any activity that included the whole family, really.

As busy as he was, between attending college and trying to live his own life, Adrian was always prepared to help his father and brothers at the convenient stores we owned. He had a strong work ethic.

He loved to eat and he absolutely loved traditional Chaldean foods. His favorite foods included potato chop, dolma, kouba hamith (meat and gurgur), and especially reza and maraca (rice and soup).

I never thought my son would be just a memory.

Adrian is always remembered, even to this day. He is fondly remembered by all of his friends and relatives. Of course, he is always missed, especially on his birthday and during holidays when the whole family gathers.

I learned a lot when I lost him, though. After we lost him, instead of losing myself and losing my family in the grief, I chose to get as close as possible to my church by attending daily masses. I even became involved in an all the church prayer groups and activities. Therefore, my faith increased each day. Through this growth in my faith, I was able to accept the fact that there is an everlasting life with the Lord and Adrian was chosen to travel to the other world where Jesus held the master plan.

I have accepted the fact that one’s body only dies and their spirit goes to heaven, therefore they live forever and they are angels watching over their loved ones.

What has helped my healing is my lovely nine grandchildren that were sent one after the other to quiet my pain and to fill my emptiness. As I mentioned, my comfort is my children, my grandchildren, my church, my prayers, and my close family and friends who have been by my side so we are never alone.

What is not so comforting is the way our people handle a death. It is unfortunate that our Chaldean people would come to visit someone who has lost a loved one and immediately they start doing the chanting and the singing for the deceased. What they should do instead is talk about faith or really any given subject to get your mind off of the grief.

Above all else, I want Adrian to be remembered for his loving and kind heart and for always being a giver. It is through giving that we are taking what the Lord taught us. There have been several different scholarships given in Adrian’s honor, as well as a tree planting in his memory.

His killers were not caught immediately. They were caught later and sentenced on 122 charges; they are serving life in prison.

I want to end by saying that prayers, daily Mass and humanitarian duties allowed me to strengthen my faith. Reading the Bible daily and applying the stories in the Bible to my situation helped me to gain much strength.