May I tell you a few stories about my brother-in-law David Ray Duncan? He and the rest of the family still call me by my childhood nickname Kandie. He commented on my post Saturday. He is an amazing man. My in-laws Glen and Rita Duncan were great parents, but a huge part of why David is so amazing is that he loves Jesus, and he loves people well.
First, how he got his name. According to a story Rita liked to tell me about David's big brother Ronnie (my husband).
Rita had difficulty carrying babies full-term. She once told me she'd had eight miscarriages. A few of those resulted in hospital stays. Though Randy and Ronnie were less than two years apart, there were eight years between Ron's birth and David's. It would be another five years before her fourth son Darin was born.
Eight-year-old Ronnie loved reading. He especially loved reading about King David in the Bible. He killed lions and bears! He played the harp before King Saul. He was a warrior. A man after God's own heart. What's not for a little boy to love?
After Rita gave birth to their third son, Glen came home from the hospital to tell the boys (Ronnie and Randy) they had a little brother named Barry. Ronnie spoke up and said, "Nope. His name is David." Glen tried to tell them their brother was named Barry.
Ronnie stuck to his guns. "I don't care what you name him. I'm calling him David."
Glen went back to the hospital. The new baby's name was officially changed to David.
Next, a story of his amazing heart.
When Glen died just two years after my dad did, we were all grieved; Glen was a good man. My stepmom came down for Glen's funeral. At Rita & Glen's home before the service, David approached Evelyn and me. He sweetly said, "Evelyn, thank you for coming. I want to tell you what a huge help Kandie has been to us. She's helped us with so many things since my dad died. I'm just sorry she learned what needs to be done and how to plan a funeral by helping you when Bob died."
With a few words David made me feel appreciated and loved. He also expressed to Evelyn that he knew how hard all this was for her; her grief over the loss of her own husband was still raw. I loved him before that day, but my love for my brother-in-law grew exponentially in that moment.
Another story that shows his heart.
Four years later David's wife Nancy and I were caring for Rita in the last weeks of her life. She had been battling pancreatic cancer for 16 months.
Our other two sisters-in-law lived in the Austin area and had full time jobs. They came for the weekend when they could. Nancy lived just blocks from Rita and was off school for the summer and I wasn't working. So Nancy and I stayed with Rita most of the time, taking turns having nights off to go home.
One day, due to pain and medication, Rita became very agitated and said some ugly things to me, the first ugly things I had every heard from her in more than 25 years. Rita was a kind woman who seemed to never get angry, but the meds and cancer were affecting her that day. I didn't know what to do. I needed help. David and Nancy quickly came to the house to help calm her down and help her get comfortable.
Once Rita was resting comfortably, David came to sit by me. He knew I was upset by what had happened. He told me that sometimes at school a child will act out towards a teacher. (David and Nancy both teach elementary school.) Often it's a teacher who is especially kind to the child. "The child knows the teacher loves them, but they are hurting. Maybe because of something happening at home, something unrelated to that particular teacher. My mom knows you love her. She loves you. She was hurting and you just happened to be the person here, so she lashed out at you. You did nothing wrong."
Even today, six years later, I'm in tears thinking about his kindness that afternoon.
That evening Rita insisted I share her bed. We stayed up late giggling like teenagers at a slumber party! Nancy in one bed across the room; Rita and me in the other bed. We looked through family photos and shared memories.
Rita was in heaven less than a week later. I cherish the memories of that day. All of them.
Both of these stories of David's kindness happened when he himself was grieving. His dad had died; his mother was dying. Yet, rather than being self-absorbed, he showed love and kindness to others. Even in his grief he demonstrated the love of Christ.
David is a wonderful teacher. He may not kill lions and bears but his faith is in the Lion of Judah. He plays the harp (his guitar) before children who will someday change their world and soldiers who fight to protect our world. He is a warrior who fights for his kids, his students, every day. Like his namesake, he is a man after God's own heart. His students adore him. So do I.
David and his wife Nancy are very dear to me. I am grateful they are part of my life.