Jacqueline Winch is an accomplished artist and the mother of Duff and Willie Goldman. I am truly honored that she wrote this article as my first guest blogger.
I have had the pleasure of sharing recipes and life experiences with Jacqueline since meeting her son last year, and thought you would enjoy her wit and perspective about raising “Duffy”…
Raising Duff Goldman, A Mother’s Perspective
Jeffrey Adam Goldman was born in Royal Oak (a suburb of Detroit, MI) on December 17, 1974 during a heavy Michigan snowstorm.
Because our home was on a secondary dirt road, we actually thought we were going to have to use our neighbor’s snowmobile to get me up to the main road, but a fast call to the plow crew saved the day.
Typical Duff – even his grand entrance to the world was surrounded by a swirl of supplemented drama, which would follow him throughout his existence.
Duff’s life so far, has been an amazing ride – he was immediately blessed with his (22-months) older brother, Willie, whose influence and presence has been and still is major as the behind-the-scenes-making-it-all-happen guy.
Toddler Willie’s inability to pronounce his little brother’s given name (it kept coming out “Duffy”) served to initiate and define baby Jeffrey’s entire future.
“Duffy” suited him perfectly in every way – even down to his raspy voice and penchant for mischief.
Even now, he most likely wouldn’t even turn his head if someone addressed him as Jeff. The translation of his Hebrew name – Avshalom – has further been a contradiction as Duff’s life has been any and everything but “peaceful”!
Actually I remember baby Duffy rather introverted and sweet. He was a passively, albeit very busy guy – taking it all in; absorbing his observations of life like a thirsty sponge.
By comparison, Willie was the one who was so obviously and audibly delighted and awed by his life’s discoveries.
To my dismay, I discovered Duffy’s early interest in muralistic art as at the age of three he had crayoned all the walls of his room in colorful arching rainbows. He was so proud, it was hard to get angry.
I guess that might have set some precedents for a lot of Duff’s future antics (such as dedicating his illegal graffiti “To Mom”). Yes, he got away with everything. He even charmed his way out of a few police stations in his time.
Actually it was his audacious irreverence at his first Food Network Challenge Challenge: Mystery Cake Special that got the attention of the producers.
Even though his cake fell apart, he didn’t follow the rules on how much cake to use and he daringly played with the judges on camera; as far as I was concerned, he took first in that show.
Even the audience was pulling for him! He handled the defeat graciously by demanding “a recount” of the vote on the awards stand.
After our move to a suburb of Washington, D.C., Mclean, VA, in 1978, as a new young mother, I was becoming concerned by Duffy’s comparative introverted, albeit sweet personality. I even held him back a year before starting school.
Imagine my surprise to learn from his school teachers that he was actually very bright and they transferred him to a special school for the “gifted and talented”. Of course, wanting to give him the room to tap into his creative side, I agreed to the switch.
The school’s curriculum, despite my protests at the downplay of picky details such as spelling and grammar, strongly encouraged individual expression which took a front seat to everything else.
Who was I to argue – as an artist myself, I knew first hand that wonderful feeling that creating from my imagination brought me so, not wanting to stiffle my creative son, I went with the flow. Their philosophy; he’ll pick up attention to details “along the way”… OK, I thought – I’m just the mom! His starring roles in several school productions were what I remember most. He got big kick out of pleasing the audiences.
Conflicts were everywhere in Duff’s entire life as, on top of everything else, the quality of his and his brother’s pre-teen age years had suffered of their parents’ rather difficult divorce.
I needed to keep him occupied and out of trouble while I was at work and so I sent him to the Corcoran College of Art & Design, which had a summer program for teens. He was only 14 in a group of 18-year olds but he did surprisingly well in his graphic design course.
By the time we moved to Cape Cod, his new high school, (where discipline and rigidity of the curriculum were the primary subscription) was very a different place from what he had become used to back in McLean. The curriculum was rigid and they expected him to toe the line with strict rules and inflexible teaching methods and materials.
It seemed that at every turn he was struggling with authority and his own needs of life’s exploration – like so many teens actually.
He had a series of some mighty heavy choices to make and the short story is that, despite a rather tumultuous teen-age life on The Cape, Duff found himself on the right path at the University of Maryland and subsequently the joy of his purpose in his educational and philosophical pursuits, love of reading as well as continuing to embrace and develop his own creativity.
As much as a mother can be objective, I always knew his was not going to be a 9 to 5 existence but I knew he’d be passionate about whatever he chose to do. At the time, for a moment, I was a bit taken aback by his decision to go to culinary school (the CIA in Napa Valley) but quickly everything seemed to come into focus and make sense for us as well as for him.
I remember many long phone calls from California where his enthusiasm was almost palpable. I don’t remember ever a complaint the entire time.
His time working at the celebrated French Laundry was pivotal in the direction for the level of excellence he wanted to achieve.
So; Duff may not always take the time to capitalize, punctuate in just the right places or concern himself much with other conventional rules of business, but his ever-present passion to please others drives him to pursue excellence in all his endeavors.
He’s always hated feeling like he’s let anyone down and that hasn’t changed since childhood. In fact, a lot hasn’t changed about him really.
He still gets such a kick out of that great feeling of creating something “awesome”. I hope he never loses that joy…
by Jacqueline Winch
Thank you Jacqueline for sharing many amazing family pictures, blogging your honest heartfelt perspective, and inspiring me (and my readers) to be the best I can be while pursuing my lifes’ endeavors with passion!
Check out Jacqueline Winch Designs to see her unique stained glass, jewelry and handcrafted wallpaper.
Jacqueline also hand crafts The Whisk (Charm City Cakes Charm) in sterling silver to honor Duff…
Thank you for reading my blog.