FAIR LAWN, N.J. — Longtime Fair Lawn resident Mike Allen has been waiting outside of The Labyrinth on Rosalie Avenue to greet his daughter in law, Trisha Allen, and his grandchildren — who attend Warren Point Elementary School, across the street — almost every day for a year on Thursday.
When he was admitted to the hospital last month for pain in his hip that escalated to a blood infection and stroke, signs on the Labyrinth’s lawn encouraging the community to “Pray For Mike” took his place.
“It was very touching when I saw [the signs] to see how many people actually care,” said Trisha Allen, who moved to Fair Lawn from Ridgefield Park last year with her two daughters and husband, Chris — Mike's only child.
Fair Lawn resident Debbie Lodato says Allen — her handyman — has become an extension of her family.
"My kids love him like he's their grandfather," said Lodato, who lives around the corner from Allen. "He'd give you the shirt off his back. You call him and he's there in a jam — in a heartbeat."
Lodato said she cried when she saw the signs for Allen at The Labyrinth. Every time her kids see a red pickup truck Lodato's children remind her that "it looks like Mike's."
"My kids keep asking when Mike's coming home," she said, "and I don't know what to tell them yet — it's hard."
Mike Allen's neighbor, Mary Ann, recalled how he was laughing last month before getting an iron infusion.
"[He] joked he was going to wear his Ironman shirt because that's what he turns into," she said. "He is a remarkably funny man and one that really would do anything to help anyone."
Trisha and Chris Allen decided to take Mike off of life support Tuesday after doctors said that the leukemia he’s been battling for a decade has spread to his brain and spine.
And while the signs on The Labyrinth lawn came down on Wednesday in the rain, Mike continues to fight.
“He is still alive and talking,” Trisha Allen said, "which the doctors can not understand because they thought his vocal cords were detached.
"He never lets anything slow him down."
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.