A man who refused to be defined by his disability. Restricted by, for certain, but never defined.
A man who lived his life to the maximum. You might say that his maximum was less than an able bodied man, but you would be hard-pressed to prove it.
A man whose resilience sometimes morphed into stubbornness; whose pride in his appearance, and in his work could have been misunderstood to be OCD.
There were two strands to Allen’s life; multicoloured and vibrant with sound – his family and his work. In both strands, he fought hard to leave a legacy; children and grandchildren who he championed to become the best version of themselves. It worked.
In supporting the work of several charities, he gave disabled people hope and reason to cracking on with their lives. “He saved my life,” was not just a one-off, but a common theme, and you knew they meant it.
A man who loved Manchester United – you suspect his patience with them would have been tested to the limit in the last few weeks! And yet that patience spurred him on to work on the family history, hour after hour. (As I write, his oldest daughter, is sat on her iPad trawling through and organising pages and pages of information, trying to make sense of it all.)
It is exactly a week ago that we said our final “goodbyes,” all one hundred of us – wheelchair users squeezed into every available space, others craning their necks from outside the back door of the chapel. There was humour, sadness, the passing on the baton. For sure, a deep sense of loss, gaping holes deeper than we could have imagined. But the memories, the images, the sounds of this man who had a bigger impact than we could have realised, call us to be who we are, to not be defined by our past or our present limitations.
Allen often referred to our family as “the God-Squad,” always with a smile on his face. He never claimed to have any faith – I wouldn’t blame him either. His hard life constantly chucked boulders of questions and challenges in the road ahead of him. And yet… to those who would see and hear, The Inherent Presence was obvious, tangible and comforting.
“Allen, thank you. Thank you for showing me what courage and resilience look like. Thank you for the wonderful gift of your oldest daughter, who has taken up the baton and is living the legacy. Until…”