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1140116 2999-04-26 00:00:00.0 UTC 2999-04-25T20:00:00.000-04:00 2010-12-16 08:30:00.0 UTC 2010-12-16T03:30:00.000-05:00 brandon-family-seeks-help-with-living-expenses-after-death-of-father Published 2010-12-16 08:30:16.0 UTC 2010-12-16T03:30:16.000-05:00 news/humaninterest DTI 69342980 BRANDON The Thanksgiving turkey grew cold on the counter. Outside, eight kids rode bicycles and bounced a volleyball, not wanting to stop and eat. So Brian Duncan set up his laptop and searched the Internet. Times had been tough, but he still wanted to buy his family Christmas gifts. Later, they poured hot gravy over the turkey, mashed potatoes and the stuffing that 13-year-old Meritza made at the last minute. Lourdes, 11, decorated the table to surprise everyone. Like every other family dinner, they gathered around the table together. "We laughed and talked," said the oldest of the brood, 16-year-old Darien. "Just us." They never dreamed it would be the last time they all had dinner together. Two days later, their 47-year-old father collapsed in the kitchen, where a fatal heart attack took his life. The children gathered on their parents' bed the next day and told stories about their father. Their mother, Shawny Duncan, wrote down the memories. He had hugged 14-year-old Lexie before she left to help a family friend move the day he died. That week he pulled his youngest kids around the yard in a wagon hooked to a riding mower. He Googled "how to moonwalk" and practiced with the older ones. He had taken 8-year-old O'Hanna to the store to buy Christmas tree ornaments hours before he died. But they never set up the tree. The ornaments remain boxed in his office. "Everything is a reminder," Darien said. • • • Shawny, 37, is half Cuban, half Puerto Rican, and always wanted a big, close family. Nineteen years ago, she married Brian. They agreed she would be a stay-at-home mom and homeschool their children. Together they went to church at least twice a week. He was the provider, earning money at one point through his home painting and remodeling business. Then, nearly two years ago, he became ill. In January 2009, he was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome, a disorder in which the immune system attacks the nervous system. For several months he was a quadriplegic. Yet his spirits had never waned, Shawny said. He quoted II Corinthians 12:9 to friends and family: My grace is sufficient for thee. Gradually, he recovered but was unable to work full time. With no income, the family lost their home to foreclosure. They got by with donations from many sources, including their church, Gospel Fellowship; a homeschool group; and the Greater Brandon Community Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports local charities. They negotiated a deal and moved into a house in Brandon, agreeing to fix it up in exchange for six months of free rent, Shawny said. Brian and Darien and many friends made the house livable. Things were looking up before Brian died. In November, the family had started making what are called Jesse tree ornaments, a 25-piece set of biblical depictions. The kids cut felt designs and Shawny sewed them. Darien set up a website. Brian made booklets. Last year they sold 70 sets. But now they are hoping for a holiday miracle. Come January, they will have to start paying $500 a month for rent. The house has been for sale for years, Shawny said, and the family could continue to rent until it sells. Right now, they have enough money to pay rent for two months, but Shawny wants a long-term solution. She wants to be settled elsewhere. "We need a home," she said. She wants to keep staying at home with her children without the worry of being evicted. "I know some people think it's a luxury," she said. "I think it's a necessity." • • • Three weeks have passed and Shawny is trying to hold her family together and surviving mostly on donations. "We're not in our groove," she said. "We're trying to figure out our new normal." Around the dinner table recently, she asked: "Alright, who's going to use their money to go see the new Narnia movie?" O'Hanna has $12. Darien tells her she can buy his ticket, too. Five-year-old Samuel runs to his room and returns with a leather pouch and a chorus: "Mommy, Mommy, Mommy. … How much money do I have?" His sister counts out 13 pennies. Shawny is sitting in her husband's place at the table feeding the baby noodles when the 2-year-old asks: "Where's Daddy?" She asks this often. "Where is Daddy?" Shawny repeats. "Jesus," the little girl whispers. "Yes, he's with Jesus," Shawny says. Each child is dealing in their own way with his absence. As is Shawny. That first night, she slept on Brian's side of the bed. Stuck on a dresser nearby, a Scripture penned by a friend begins: For thy maker is thy husband. Such quotes speckle her house. Reassurances that she can make it if she keeps her mind focused on God's promises. She believes that, but still she misses his touch. He was her best friend. Last year Brian had taken the family to Tennessee for Christmas. It was the first time the children ever saw snow. They made snowmen and had a snowball fight. This year will be different. But the children have something to look forward to on Christmas morning. The gifts he bought on Thanksgiving are still in his office. Elisabeth Parker can be reached at eparker@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3431. By Elisabeth Parker, Times Staff Writer Human Interest_News,Hillsborough,News Brandon family seeks help with living expenses after death of father, husband EPARKERN NTP North of Tampa dhvr5 dhvr5 In time of loss, dreaming for a place to call home <p><b>.</b><b>how to help</b></p><p><b>Holiday Hopes</b></p><p>This is the fourth and final story in the 2010 weekly Holiday Hopes series, where we profile interesting people throughout Hillsborough County who have a need or a wish. Readers will be updated if and when wishes are granted.</p><p><b>The wish</b></p><p>The Duncans need money for living expenses. To donate, visit helpduncanfamily.com or contact Anne Nymark at the Greater Brandon Community Foundation, at (813) 293-9236 or (813) 689-9297. Checks can be sent to the Foundation referencing the Duncan family at P.O. Box 3197, Brandon, FL 33511.</p> Tampa 1 brnholidayhope121710.NTP In time of loss, dreaming for a place to call home 2010-12-17 05:00:00.0 UTC 2010-12-17T00:00:00.000-05:00 Shawny Duncan, 37, top center, and her children join in a prayer led by her oldest son, Darien, 16, before dinner. Her husband, Brian Duncan, died of a heart attack Nov. 27. resources/images/dti/2010/12/ntp_holidayhop12171_154200a.jpg DANIEL WALLACE | Times resources/images/dti/rendered/2010/12/ntp_holidayhop12171_154200a_4col.jpgresources/images/dti/rendered/2010/12/ntp_holidayhop12171_154200a_8col.jpg Hadassah Duncan, 2, peers over her chair during a family dinner with her mother and seven siblings. The family needs money to afford to pay their rent, which will cost $500 each month. resources/images/dti/2010/12/ntp_holidayhop12171_154199a.jpg DANIEL WALLACE | Times resources/images/dti/rendered/2010/12/ntp_holidayhop12171_154199a_4col.jpgresources/images/dti/rendered/2010/12/ntp_holidayhop12171_154199a_8col.jpg A photograph of Shawny and Brian Duncan sits on the family&#8217;s kitchen counter. The couple had been married for 19 years. resources/images/dti/2010/12/ntp_holidayhop12171_154198a.jpg DANIEL WALLACE | Times resources/images/dti/rendered/2010/12/ntp_holidayhop12171_154198a_4col.jpgresources/images/dti/rendered/2010/12/ntp_holidayhop12171_154198a_8col.jpg Lexie Duncan, 14, center, talks to her younger sister O&#8217;Hanna, 8, as the family prepares for dinner recently. The Brandon family is surviving mostly on donations. resources/images/dti/2010/12/ntp_holidayhop12171_154197a.jpg DANIEL WALLACE | Times resources/images/dti/rendered/2010/12/ntp_holidayhop12171_154197a_4col.jpgresources/images/dti/rendered/2010/12/ntp_holidayhop12171_154197a_8col.jpg true templatedata/tampabaytimes/StaffArticle/data/2010/12/16/69342980-brandon-family-seeks-help-with-living-expenses-after-death-of-father StaffArticle news,human interest_newsHuman Interest News ArticlesBRANDONThe Thanksgiving turkey grew cold on the counter. Outside, eight kids rode bicycles and bounced a volleyball, not wanting to stop and eat. So Brian Duncan set up his laptop and searched the Internet. Times had been tough, but he still wanted to buy his family Christmas gifts.Human Interest_News,Hillsborough,NewsHuman Interest_News,Hillsborough,News<span style="display:none;" class="author vcard"><span class="fn">ELISABETH PARKER</span></span><span style="display:none;" class="source-org vcard"><span class="org fn">Tampa Bay Times</span></span><a rel="item-license" href="/universal/user_agreement.shtml">&#169; 2016 Tampa Bay Times</a><br /><br />Times Staff Writer 2291130 2016-08-26 20:51:26.0 UTC 3 Days Ago tampa-yankees-fete-family-that-lost-father-in-crash news/humaninterest Tampa Yankees fete family that lost father in crash StaffArticle 2288318 2016-08-05 15:50:44.0 UTC 3 Weeks Ago father-charged-in-hot-car-deaths-of-15-month-old-twin-girls news/nation Father charged in hot-car deaths of 15-month-old twin girls in Georgia StaffArticle 2291371 2016-08-29 16:00:41.0 UTC 17 Hours Ago hillary-clinton-aide-huma-abedin-to-separate-from-husband-anthony-weiner news/politics Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin to separate from husband Anthony Weiner after new sexting revelation StaffArticle <p>BRANDON</p> <p>The Thanksgiving turkey grew cold on the counter. Outside, eight kids rode bicycles and bounced a volleyball, not wanting to stop and eat. So Brian Duncan set up his laptop and searched the Internet. Times had been tough, but he still wanted to buy his family Christmas gifts.</p> <p>Later, they poured hot gravy over the turkey, mashed potatoes and the stuffing that 13-year-old Meritza made at the last minute. Lourdes, 11, decorated the table to surprise everyone.</p> <p>Like every other family dinner, they gathered around the table together. &quot;We laughed and talked,&quot; said the oldest of the brood, 16-year-old Darien. &quot;Just us.&quot;</p> <p>They never dreamed it would be the last time they all had dinner together.</p> <p>Two days later, their 47-year-old father collapsed in the kitchen, where a fatal heart attack took his life.</p> <p>The children gathered on their parents' bed the next day and told stories about their father. Their mother, Shawny Duncan, wrote down the memories.</p> <p>He had hugged 14-year-old Lexie before she left to help a family friend move the day he died. That week he pulled his youngest kids around the yard in a wagon hooked to a riding mower. He Googled &quot;how to moonwalk&quot; and practiced with the older ones. He had taken 8-year-old O'Hanna to the store to buy Christmas tree ornaments hours before he died.</p> <p>But they never set up the tree. The ornaments remain boxed in his office.</p> <p>&quot;Everything is a reminder,&quot; Darien said. </p> <p>• • •</p> <p>Shawny, 37, is half Cuban, half Puerto Rican, and always wanted a big, close family. </p> <p>Nineteen years ago, she married Brian. They agreed she would be a stay-at-home mom and homeschool their children. Together they went to church at least twice a week. He was the provider, earning money at one point through his home painting and remodeling business.</p> <p>Then, nearly two years ago, he became ill. In January 2009, he was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome, a disorder in which the immune system attacks the nervous system. For several months he was a quadriplegic. Yet his spirits had never waned, Shawny said. He quoted II Corinthians 12:9 to friends and family: <i>My grace is sufficient for thee.</i></p> <p>Gradually, he recovered but was unable to work full time.</p> <p>With no income, the family lost their home to foreclosure. They got by with donations from many sources, including their church, Gospel Fellowship; a homeschool group; and the Greater Brandon Community Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports local charities.</p> <p>They negotiated a deal and moved into a house in Brandon, agreeing to fix it up in exchange for six months of free rent, Shawny said. Brian and Darien and many friends made the house livable.</p> <p>Things were looking up before Brian died. In November, the family had started making what are called Jesse tree ornaments, a 25-piece set of biblical depictions. The kids cut felt designs and Shawny sewed them. Darien set up a website. Brian made booklets. Last year they sold 70 sets.</p> <p>But now they are hoping for a holiday miracle.</p> <p>Come January, they will have to start paying $500 a month for rent. The house has been for sale for years, Shawny said, and the family could continue to rent until it sells. Right now, they have enough money to pay rent for two months, but Shawny wants a long-term solution. She wants to be settled elsewhere.</p> <p>&quot;We need a home,&quot; she said.</p> <p>She wants to keep staying at home with her children without the worry of being evicted.</p> <p>&quot;I know some people think it's a luxury,&quot; she said. &quot;I think it's a necessity.&quot;</p> <p>• • •</p> <p>Three weeks have passed and Shawny is trying to hold her family together and surviving mostly on donations.</p> <p>&quot;We're not in our groove,&quot; she said. &quot;We're trying to figure out our new normal.&quot;</p> <p>Around the dinner table recently, she asked: &quot;Alright, who's going to use their money to go see the new Narnia movie?&quot;</p> <p>O'Hanna has $12. Darien tells her she can buy his ticket, too.</p> <p>Five-year-old Samuel runs to his room and returns with a leather pouch and a chorus: &quot;Mommy, Mommy, Mommy. … How much money do I have?&quot;</p> <p>His sister counts out 13 pennies. </p> <p>Shawny is sitting in her husband's place at the table feeding the baby noodles when the 2-year-old asks: &quot;Where's Daddy?&quot;</p> <p>She asks this often.</p> <p>&quot;Where is Daddy?&quot; Shawny repeats.</p> <p>&quot;Jesus,&quot; the little girl whispers.</p> <p>&quot;Yes, he's with Jesus,&quot; Shawny says.</p> <p>Each child is dealing in their own way with his absence. As is Shawny. That first night, she slept on Brian's side of the bed. Stuck on a dresser nearby, a Scripture penned by a friend begins: <i>For thy maker is thy husband</i>. </p> <p>Such quotes speckle her house. Reassurances that she can make it if she keeps her mind focused on God's promises. She believes that, but still she misses his touch. He was her best friend.</p> <p>Last year Brian had taken the family to Tennessee for Christmas. It was the first time the children ever saw snow. They made snowmen and had a snowball fight.</p> <p>This year will be different.</p> <p>But the children have something to look forward to on Christmas morning.</p> <p>The gifts he bought on Thanksgiving are still in his office.</p> <p><i>Elisabeth Parker can be reached at eparker@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3431.</i></p>trueruntime2016-08-30 05:46:01