This is a tribute to my son, Linden Jared Allen, who passed away from a very aggressive brain tumor on May 31st, ten years ago. Our son was the happy result of my second wife and myself. He was born into a very blended family with two adopted kids, two foster kids, and the biological child of my wife from a previous marriage. There were three children with some First Nations ancestry, two children of Jamaican descent, and Linden, who was entirely Caucasian and from two parents who resided together. Our home could be described as chaotic with much attempted blending of personalities, allegiances, ancestries, and particular problems of individual children such as Foetal Alcohol Affect, Attention Deficit Disorder, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. You can imagine the turmoil when we took our family on a holiday to Hawaii. Linden was the oasis in this desert of disorder.
We had a large home in close proximity to my wife’s parents who acted as his surrogate family for much of his young life. My wife and I both worked out of the home as the family became smaller with my oldest son and daughter eventually leaving home and the foster kids moving on in life. My in-laws cared for Linden before school with his Oma walking him to and from school. After school he helped his Opa in their yard and with the birds he raised on their property.
Oma and Opa were of European ancestry and instilled, by example and influence, a strong work ethic, a desire to succeed, and solid moral principles. From a young age he expressed his desire to, one day, become a dentist. I expect his grandparent’s influence thought this a rewarding and lucrative vocation that he was quite capable of achieving. Linden would always complete his homework without prompting upon his arrival at his grandparent’s home before pursuing any other activity. He was very close to his Oma and Opa and could understand the German language that was spoken to him. He was always rewarded with a German strudel or some special treat when his homework was completed. He was his grandparent’s primary focus in life.
To install a strong work ethic, Oma and Opa encouraged Linden to take over the family paper route. Each member of the family had participated in this paper route over approximately a 20-year period beginning with his uncle, then various cousins, Linden’s older siblings, and finally Linden. He was very conscientious about his paper route and enjoyed the spoils that he earned from his labour. He and I completed his route only the day before he died. Even though he was very tired and likely very ill, he completed his job without complaint.
Linden also had aunts, uncles and many cousins within blocks of our home. One cousin was born only a few days after Linden and they spent many hours and days together. His aunt and uncle were very family oriented and always included Linden in any activity such as camping, trips to the beach, a trip to the West Edmonton Mall, and many family gatherings. With so many family members in close proximity there was always a birthday, anniversary or just Friday evening at the mall and dinner out. Linden was very involved with his family and much loved.
My wife and I separated when Linden was about 8 years of age. We enjoyed an amicable separation and equal custody of our son. We both lived in close proximity to his grandparents and school, allowing him to continue the very similar lifestyle he enjoyed before the separation. Linden stayed in each of our homes alternatively a week at a time. He continued to be happy, well adjusted, and very involved with his family.
Linden had the benefit of good incomes by both parents. He was able to attend whatever sport or outside activity that he desired. He was active in soccer, cross-country skiing, Cubs, then later, Scouts. I was a leader in both Cubs and Scouts thus went camping with the Scouts and took him to the weekly meetings. Linden was quiet but never shy. I recall him at one Cub meeting when he was one of the youngest present contributing a skill that he had learned from his grandparents after some of the older Cubs had presented their particular skill. Linden quietly counted to 50 in German while everyone sat transfixed. It takes quite a bit of time to count to 50 in German.
Linden was also an avid reader from a very young age and enjoyed material well beyond his years. This love of learning transferred to his school work to the extent that he seldom achieved a grade below an ‘A’. He seemed very concerned about his grades and worked very hard to achieve the best possible grades he could achieve. I am sure he would have reached any goal he chose.
Linden was a very skilled orator. As stated, he was quiet but not shy. He presented a speech on the subject of the Ogopogo that he and I had prepared together. He was chosen to present his speech to the school. He was only about 8 years of age and seemed so small in front of the school but completed his discussion without pause or fear. He told a very nervous fellow participant that she should do her best and no one could blame her if she tried her best. This girl later recounted how the wisdom of this 8-year-old helped her in many similar situations as she grew through adolescence and beyond.
With the benefit of financially stable parents, Linden was able to travel on several occasions to various foreign countries. On three occasions he travelling with myself and my father to Mexico and Hawaii. It seemed fairly unique that three single men of three generations could enjoy similar pursuits and each other’s company completely. He was a young prince to his grandfather whose voice falters to this day when Linden is remembered. His mother also took him to Mexico where they similarly enjoyed each other’s company and the experience together.
It was after one of these trips that Linden started to experience headaches and was very tired. We took him to a variety of doctors but no diagnosis could be reached. He was always healthy and it was out of the question that he should have any life-threatening illness. We all thought he may have picked up some sort of virus in Mexico or Hawaii and would soon be healthy again. He began falling asleep in class and had a very significant sensitivity to sound. He did not appear to struggle with pain but he was not one to complain. He wanted to live very much and had no thought that his life would not continue on the path that he had embarked. His parents and grandparents would always be there to protect him. He was safe.
Then on Wednesday May 31st, 2006, ten years ago today, I received a call at work that he had suffered a seizure and an ambulance was taking him to the hospital. He died with his family around him several hours later without awakening. His death significantly impacted his family, many friends, and the local community that knew him. He was a special boy and would have grown to become a special man. We miss him greatly.