Legacy Twinned

I had the great pleasure this last week of spending time with my mother, who lives some 4000 kms from where I live and work. I only am able to be with my mom a couple of time each year. As of late, she has not been well, my mom: heart problems, mobility issues, and failing sight have complicated her life. Since I don’t get out to see her often I like to maximize my time with her. My wife suggested I bring along a book to read to her, which I did. I found it to be a rich experience to read to my mother who read to me as a child. It is a coming full circle, something that I hope comes around to me in due course.

In addition to reading the book I brought, I also read her the local paper which had an article remembering Arthur and Allen Dickau, local gentlemen who died at the age of 90 years. Arthur and Allen were twin brothers who had slight cognitive impairment. They also happened to have a very fine sense of humor. They owned hats that read “I am Allen, the other one is Arthur” and its opposite. They publically swapped hats to confound folk. I remember them so well: they spoke with a kind of slight accent I associate with children of German immigrants, in a rather sharp tenor voice. They belonged to the local Baptist church, and were much loved by folk of faith and beyond. They were true ambassadors for my home town of Ponoka. As the years progressed, their backs bowed in homage to the years of manual labor that gave them occasion to boast of having raised this roof, or having poured this sidewalk; including the sidewalk and roof of my parents’ retirement home, recently vacated by my widowed Mom in her failing health.

As I sat and chatted with my Mom about the article, she told me of the first time she and Dad met them. They were fresh in town, and making their way to the little Lutheran church. Arthur and Allen were on their way to the Baptist church and waved hello with their bibles in hand. She also reminded me that the twins often asked after me. You see, Allen believed I was named after him. Mom chuckled at that memory. I gathered this wasn’t true, but one could do worse than be named after someone who was beloved by all, who lived life to the fullest into his 90th year, who knew the names of many who did not know each others’ names and brought smiles to the faces of all. In fact, I am honored to be claimed by someone who forsook the self to live fully in the community where God placed him; not worrying about what others thought of him, but only thinking of bringing a little joy to others. One could do worse than emulate a man who loved his brother unequivocally. They died within months of each other.

Allen and Arthur will be fiercely missed in their community. Yet I believe that their legacy will be carried on, even if unaware: all who have been touched by them have learned to touch the earth tenderly, to engage their community holistically and to embrace their neighbors tenaciously. Their voices may be still but still they are heard, because you cannot corral compassion set free by joie de vivre.

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16 thoughts on “Legacy Twinned

  1. Marie Taylor says:

    wonderful, wonderful story and so rich in life. Marie

  2. diannegray says:

    These two sound like amazing men, Allan. What a life they must have had!

    It’s wonderful that you spend time with your mum and read to her. What a lovely thing to do.

    • agjorgenson says:

      Thanks, yes it was a nice way to spend some time. It was a book called “Little Miracles” that was about “coincidences” that were heart warming. I’d read one or two, and then we would chat about them, sometimes evoking memories, sometimes silence.

  3. Brenda says:

    So lovely to have you here! Mom is already counting the days until you come back! I love the Allen/Arthur memories…they always asked about you. Blessings on your week. B

  4. Diane Rivers says:

    Sounds like your visit with your Mom was rewarding on many levels! (Your wife is very insightful to suggest reading to her.) And I love the memories you shared of these wonderful twins, Allen and Arthur. How heartwarming!

  5. Saints are not always the ones we expect to be. The twins sound “simply holy”. Thanks for sharing their story.

  6. agjorgenson says:

    Thanks. Yes, indeed these are the ones we need to pay attention to. There is a fellow in our church, who probably speaks fewer than 100 words, but just loves to come to church, and mimics from the pew everything the Pastor does. It is holy choreography, and brings a smile to my face, if not a lump to my throat.

  7. Denise Hisey says:

    A beautiful tribute, indeed! Isn’t it amazing how the kindness of others can linger for a lifetime?

  8. agjorgenson says:

    Thanks. Yes, special people abound, we need only look in anticipation of meeting them.

  9. jannatwrites says:

    Their legacy is carried on in your post. They sound like nice men. My parents are still on their own, but I remember how visits with my grandparents changed over the years. Those changes always made me sad…it’s like seeing them not able to do what they used to reminded me of my own mortality.

    I know it’s not the point of the story, but I was just curious – did they both live to age 90? Did they die around the same time?

  10. agjorgenson says:

    Thanks Janna, yes they both lived to be 90 and died within two months of one another. Indeed, it is hard to see loved ones fail, especially parents who have known us longer and better than any others.

  11. shoreacres says:

    There were times when my role as sole caretaker for my mom felt burdensome over her last fifteen years – and let us be honest. It could be irritating and burdensome to her, as well! Still, it was a great blessing, as she was in her own home except for her last six weeks. When I hear you reflecting on your time with your mother, I certainly miss mine.

    That circle of life does turn. It’s a real struggle for us all, I think, to realize we’re become parent to our parent, and that we’re living out the same struggles they had with us when we were children. So it goes.

    Lovely story about the brothers, too. What a contrast to our celebrity-ridden culture, not to mention our obsession with imposing our presence on the world through social media. Your words suggest they were the very antithesis: “[living] fully in the community where God placed him; not worrying about what others thought of him, but only thinking of bringing a little joy to others.”

  12. agjorgenson says:

    Thanks, yes I agree. It is a strange time in life. I don’t see my Mom all that often, and I said to my siblings, it feels a little like she fades by half every time I see her. I talk to her regularly on the phone, and her voice keeps getting a little softer. The twins truly were incredible people, and remind me to look more carefully in my neighbourhood for signs of grace.

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