In Memoriam: Richard Twiss
(Note: this was originally written with and for my Parish Collective family.)
On Wednesday afternoon, February 6th, in the Washington Hilton Lobby, I snuck up behind Uncle Richard and, as is our tradition, I planted a wet kiss in the soft center of his left cheek. He turned and burst into smile. A few hours later I stood over his unconscious body, laid across the cold tile floor of that same hotel’s lobby. Paramedics worked to bring back breath, beat and pulse.
Because of our history and intimacy the with Twiss family, I immediately called Uncle Richard’s wife, Katherine at their Vancouver, Washington home. She begged me, “Don’t you leave him, Tony… Don’t you leave him.” It would take a full day for her four grown boys to join her at his bedside. In obedience to Katherine’s request, I lived those twenty-four hours as close to him as I could: in the ambulance, at the hospital and as often as possible at his bedside. I held his hand and spoke to him. He never once woke up. By Saturday, he was gone.
We have lost one of our dearest elders. It is important that we remember. Richard kept us honest, the wise whispering uncle who could encourage, scold and correct; all the while, we loved him for it. He reshaped our understanding of relative, tribe and earth. He confronted our colonialism-lies of infiltration, “saving the needy” and resource control. He showed us to orient ourselves around the ways of our ancestors and for the sake of our grand-children. He inspired an integrated life.
I miss you, dear friend. You are uniquely irreplaceable… in my life, in our movement and in our world.
ps: We were joined the evening before Richard’s passing by our friend Lisa Sharon Harper in one of the most sacred moments I have experienced. Here is the story in her words