[Mary Lynn]: Bruce was the star athlete of Yarinacocha, too.
[Kathy]: Oh, yeah, he was!
[Mary Lynn]: Athletics was, like, huge.
[Kathy]: Bruce had a lot of records.
[Mary Lynn]: A lot of what?
[Eric]: Fastest runner. Best hurdler. I don’t know about swimming, but almost everything else.
[Bruce]: The Indians set me up with some drugs.
[Gloria]: Performance-enhancing drugs?
[Marcia]: Performance-enhancing, yeah.
[Eric]: OK, so, Mary Lynn and I got married in 1980. We met in graduate school in Dallas. When I left Peru, I came back and went to the King’s College in New York.
[Mary Lynn]: Honey, you’ve got to tell your brain surgery story.
[Eric]: Oh, OK. Back up a little.
[Marcia]: How about when you were born?
[Stephanie]: He doesn’t remember, Mom.
[Eric]: I don’t remember.
[Marcia]: You don’t know what year you were born?
[Eric]: Oh, OK. Yeah. 1954. Bruce was born in 1953 and we were 17 days apart, so we always opt and celebrated our birthdays together.
[Mary Lynn]: Seventeen days and a year.
[Eric]: Pardon me?
[Steve]: A year and 17 days.
[Marcia]: I hope it was a year.
[Eric]: Seventeen days. Plus a year.
[Steve]: I’ve done that, fooling the patients, that distance between the deliveries.
[Eric]: Uncle Steve, you always come up with the best comments. I remember we were at Park Street Church talking in a conference, you know, with a whole congregation of people. This was during a Duncan family reunion there. Well, here I am up on the platform, nervous as anything and I’m telling my story of living in Kokorake [sp?] at 11,500 feet and Uncle Steve yells out from the audience, “Hope you didn’t fall off the roof!”
You’ve got some good ones. Everyone broke up. I’m glad you keep the humor in the family.
[Mary Lynn]: You and Bruce were in the same grade all through school.
[Eric]: We were in the same grade from first grade on.
So, let’s see. Came back to the States, went to the King’s College.
[Mary Lynn]: Tell the story.
Oh, back to the. . . . When I was ten, we were in the States. You know, people always say, “What about all the wild animals down there? What about, you know, the insects and all these evil, bad things that you hear about?” Well, I came to the States and never had had anything happen to me. Well, Bruce and I were racing across the street in Bloomfield, New Jersey, running to the church, and I got bit by a car.
[Eric]: So I was 9 years old and it hit me in the side of the face and twirled me around and broke, shattered my knee, my femur. So the doctors thought they would have to amputate my leg. Finally were able to piece it back together and I was in a body cast for quite a while until I got chicken pox. They cut off the upper part and let me at least scratch my itches. But yeah. So that was quite an experience.
[Marcia]: Now she said “brain surgery”?
[Mary Lynn]: Yeah.
[Eric]: Following that. Yeah, following that. I had a fracture and they thought it was just a concussion at the time. They didn’t realize I had a hairline fracture. When I was thirteen, I developed spinal meningitis, back in Peru.
[Victoria]: Oh, my goodness!
[Eric]: Three times. The first time was natural. It’s normal to get spinal meningitis once. Maybe not normal, but, you know, you never are supposed to get it a second time. I developed a second case of it and they knew something was wrong. So they sent me to Lima for observation and tested—you know, I had spinal fluid actually leaking through my nostril, so they realized that they needed to perform surgery to close up that fracture that was still there. So I had brain surgery when I was 13 after the third incident.
[Marcia]: In Lima?
[Eric]: In Lima. And the neat thing about that is the way that God works. You know, you think of being on a mission field and what kind of medical care can you get there? Here we were, didn’t have the money to send me back to the States or whatever. So here I am in Lima. My doctor was called Dr. Cabieses. Well, he happened to be one of the world’s leading neurosurgeons. Not only that, but there was a conference of the world’s leading neurosurgeons right there in Lima, so he took my case before all of them, so I had the world’s experts in on my case. God is good.
[Kathy]: That’s how he turned out to be so smart.
[Stephanie]: So what was—you developed a third case of it later?
[Eric]: Third case, while I was in Lima.
[Stephanie]: While you were in Lima.
[Kathy]: I remember, as a kid, when he had that, it was really scary because his fever would go so high, he got very delirious. And I was having a sleepover with some friends. We were going to sleep in the rec-room, which was just separated from the house a little bit, but you could hear him yelling out, counting really fast, up and backward, and just kind of yelling out unusual things because he was delirious. It was just really unsettling to hear your brother. He went on to Lima or had gotten better soon after that.
[Eric]: Yeah, that was, I think, the first incident, or maybe the first or second one. They give you a spinal tap when you have spinal meningitis. They put this long needle. You have to roll up in a ball, so you separate your vertebrae. They put this needle in your back. It is the most—it’s like being in a dentist chair, having that needle, you know, that drill going into your mouth, into your teeth. I hated it. ‘Course I had high fevers at the time when they were doing the surgery, the uh, inserting the needle to get the spinal fluid out to test it.
But, yeah, God is good. I lived through it. Did give me a little touch of something, I’m sure. Did something to my brain.
[Steve, relaying question]: Does he hallucinate anymore?
[Mary Lynn]: Strange dreams. He’s had strange dreams sometimes.
[Eric]: Well, she puts me out of the room. I have to sleep in a separate room because I talk too much in the night. No.
Actually that’s pretty close to the truth. I snore too much at night.
[Mary Lynn]: But that’s why—well, I don’t know if you want to say that—but that also influenced why you ended up going into Bible translation and not aviation.
[Eric]: That’s right.
story told by Eric (Lee’s son) with interjections by Mary Lynn (Eric’s wife), Kathy and Bruce (Lee’s children), Steve, Stephanie (Steve’s daughter), Marcia (Steve’s wife), Gloria (Tad’s daughter), and Victoria (TJ’s wife) to the family reunion gathering on January 11, 2014; transcribed by Dawn Duncan Harrell (Steve’s daughter)
Can you add to the story? Please do. Write in the box below. (You may need to click “Leave a Reply” above to make the box, name, and address fields appear.)
- How do you spell Kokorake? Where was it? When did Eric live there?
- Where did Eric receive the spinal tap that diagnosed the spinal meningitis?
- Anybody else have chicken pox as kids? Tell us what you remember.