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I was trying to remember the first time I met Allan. It had to be at least 4 years ago, at the Keele Correctional Centre as part of my ministry work. He was serving the last part of his sentence while living at the Keele Centre, and we likely met in Chaplin Harry’s office.

Allan was a tall guy who loved to talk. Shortly after our first meeting I found out, and I think Allan had only recently discovered, that he was Jewish.  This was the start of a real friendship that included him making me on several occasions his home made matzoh ball soup. We would talk- OK I would listen- and he would tell me of his favorite places to eat in Toronto and his many misadventures driving trucks and other vehicles. He would often speak about his family but only in general terms and in a fond way.

We never talked about why he was at the Keele Centre serving time and to this day I really have no idea about that part of his past.

He was a regular at our Dismas Fellowship meals and was always in line early for the Tuesday Community dinners at the Keele Centre.

Then he got sick. He battled with his body for the last few years of his life, and now he is at peace. It was a long and at times desperate struggle. I would often visit with him in his room at Keele, and we prayed together but I often left our visits with a sense of sadness that he was so alone in this battle with “the cancer”.

One of the last times he came to the Dismas Fellowship was on Good Friday this past year. Allan agreed to share on one of the questions as part of the Way of the Cross. His voice was weak  and I remember helping him with the reading.

His reflection that evening was made with tears in his eyes as he talked about the past hurts in his life, the ones he had caused and those inflicted upon him. He shared about a betrayal from his past when someone he thought was a friend abandoned him.  (Station 2: Jesus is Betrayed by Judas) It was a touching and moving moment I will never forget.

I came to realize that he wasn’t alone. He had friends and many of the folks who would come to Dismas or the Tuesday dinners went out of their way to make Allan feel he was part of a family, our community. Some made it a point to visit him in the hospital and many will mourn his death.

Allan impacted  the lives of those he came into contact with over these past years in many positive ways, just as he was touched by those that extended him the hand of friendship.

Shalom my friend- peace be unto you- I will miss the soup and our talks, but you are free from the pain and happy trails to you.

Say hello to our friend Dismas and remember us as you enjoy the kingdom.

A few Jewish Proverbs for Allan:

“God is closest to those with broken hearts.”

“The man who gives little with a smile gives more than the man who gives much with a frown.”

“In choosing a friend, go up a step.”

And a piece of advice he would give to all: “In a restaurant choose a table near a waiter”

10 Responses to “My friend Allan died yesterday.”

  1. Tauni says:

    Prayers for Allan. I often had a conversation with him.

    Please let me know when the gathering will at Keele.

    Thank you. Tauni

  2. Don says:

    It’s been a little while since I had the opportunity to sit and listen to Allan. Plans to visit left too late. I remember the time I saw him when he was starting a new course of meds and was so happy, and then the next time when the disease was winning again and he was not very happy at all. I remember wishing I could do something to help fix his problem and then accepting that of course it wasn’t mine or Allan’s to fix; it was ours to accept. Allan was forgiven by the Lord and is now healed by the Lord. Shalom Allan.

  3. a friend says:

    i remember he loved eating fresh bagels. he always shared a good story.

  4. David B says:

    Alan was a wonderful guy and will be missed. Thank you for this touching tribute Mike.

  5. Elaine & Bob says:

    So sorry to hear about Allan. He sure fought a long, hard battle, not only from the cancer. Let us know if there will be a memorial.

  6. DAWN says:

    I am sorry to hear Alan lost his battle. I will miss seeing him at DISMAS. He now lives with Our LORD and I know he is happy. Thanks Mike for sharing this glowing tribute.

  7. Dorothy B. says:

    Allan loved to share his stories whether to be a bus ride or another adventure he had. He had a very positive attitude and was always smiling. Smiling that’s how I will remember him.

    Please publish memorial details.


  8. Carol S. says:

    l too am saddened to hear of the “gentle” giant’s passing.
    Allan, as l last remembered him over a meal at Keele, was upbeat, positive and had an appetite. he will be in my thoughts and prayers.

  9. Ron F says:

    I remember Allan’s stories of the times he shared with his daughter. He was proud of his Jewish heritage and her acceptance of it.
    Shalom, Allan. You will be missed.

  10. Allison says:

    On behalf of my Mom, brother and myself I like to take this time to say thank you to everyone for there wonderful thoughts and prayers towards my Father Allan. He was an amazing person fill with love, kindness always thinking of someone else then himself. We’re so greatful that he had so many friends to see him through the rough times when he couldn’t be there for him.

    My Family and Harry are planning something hopefully at the end of the month. When everything is set I will let Harry know to pass on the word.