A Grandfather’s Eulogy

While I’m sure you know, eulogies are generally given at a memorial or funeral service. My grandfather said all his friends had “already been planted”, so he requested not to have a service. Even so, I felt the need to mark his passing by offering my tribute in this time-honored tradition.

Grandpa, Christmas 2008

Alsie Howard Duff, Jr. was born in mid-November, 1922 to Alsie Hayter and Cora Emma Duff in Hillsboro, Texas. Howard, as he was known, was the oldest of three. His brothers Douglas and Gradys completed the Duff family. In 1941, at the age of 18 he enlisted in the United States Army. Gradys told me of a cold December day when he and his mother were standing in the kitchen next to the stove listening to the radio. They wept when they heard the report of the Pearl Harbor bombing, as they believed Howard had arrived there just days prior. As it turned out, my grandfather was still en route to the islands as his ship’s departure had been delayed. Weeks later, he was able to get word to the family of his safe arrival.

Grandpa was stationed in the Pacific during WWII. He told me of building roads and runways on numerous islands. Six months after he had joined the Army, his brother Douglas, enlisted in the U.S. Navy. Douglas was also stationed in the Pacific. At some point during their service, they were able to coordinate their leave. Grandpa fondly recalled the month they spent together on leave in Hawaii.

Shortly after returning home from military service, he married my grandmother, June. They moved to the Houston area. He worked at the Shell Oil refinery in Deer Park. Together, they raised my mother and her younger brother.

Howard and June on their honeymoon

While my mother was still school-aged, they purchased a parcel of land about 40 miles east of Austin. Known as “The Farm” or “The Goober Patch”, this little spot of heaven-on-earth became the weekend playground for Grandpa, and the rest of the family, I imagine. The skills he’d learned building roads and runways in the Pacific islands came in handy as he created roads and ponds on the property. He also built a small 2 bedroom/1 bath house out of cinder blocks, known as the bunk house. Of course, machinery was used to create and care for all these things, so barns/sheds (A.K.A. galvanized palaces) were raised to secure tractors, farm implements, welding supplies, and other goodies.

The Farm

They spent weekends raising cattle. I heard tales of horses, chickens, and I think sheep, but never witnessed them. They had a beautiful and prosperous garden. I recall rows of green beans, tomatoes, zucchini, squash, and okra. There were abundant pear trees, fig trees, and wild muscadine grape vines. Many hours were spent canning in the large kitchen of the bunk house.

Grandpa was also a world traveler. I don’t know the timeline of events or all of the countries they visited. However, I know he and my grandmother traveled to Japan and to the U.S.S.R (prior to the fall of the Iron Curtain.) I know they visited New Zealand, and maybe Australia. Eventually, they decided to explore North America. They purchased an Airstream trailer and traveled extensively. In later years, my cousins, my brother, and I were blessed to join them for various journeys across the U.S. and into Canada.

When my grandmother became ill, he helped her fight until she could fight no more. Then he held her hand. He was grieved when she lost her battle to cancer in 1994.

Shortly after her death, he moved into the bunk house. He would drive to town visiting the local Senior Centers for the food, and the company. Of course, being the handsome devil that he was, the ladies loved spending time with him. He soon earned the nickname Twinkle Toes, as he began dancing. As far as I can tell, if there was music playing at the center, he was dancing. As recently as three years ago, he told me he danced with every lady in the room, and then he’d start over again.

A few years after my grandmother’s death, Grace danced into his life. She made him smile, she made him laugh, and she loved to dance. After they were married, they also traveled the countryside in the Airstream. I remember the pure joy that exuded from them when they stopped to visit me in 1998 when I lived in the Seattle area. I know she was good for him, and I suspect he was good for her. They were married for 15 years before she became ill and passed away.

Grace and Grandpa, June 2009

After being widowed again in 2013, he continued visiting the Bastrop Senior Center. Folks would bring food to share, and there would be music for dancing. It was during this time Grandpa perfected his method of making peanut brittle in the microwave. There were special dishes and special spoons involved. He had it down to an exact science! He would show up with a Ziploc bag of peanut brittle twice a week.

Then when the older folks at the center complained their teeth could no longer handle the peanut brittle, he would bring Harvard Beets. Lord, the man loved him some beets. I’m half convinced he liked them because they nearly have as much sugar in them as the peanut brittle!

In recent years, he’d been diagnosed with congestive heart failure and other unsettling ailments. For a man who had not sat still for much of his life, the health issues were a blow. When he fell a little over a year ago, his pain was unbearable. At that time, he made the decision to go on hospice care. My mother moved into his Bastrop home for a few weeks, but then the air conditioner broke– in August – in Texas. So, she loaded him in her car and took him to her home outside of Houston.

My parents cared for his daily needs. Hospice care helped to manage his pain. Several of his grandkids were able to visit, and he got to meet his newest great-granddaughter in November. He spent his final year surrounded by his family.

On August 20, 2020, the man of fierce independence, extremely clever wit, and humor like-no-other spent his final moments with my mom and dad.

He was deeply loved, and he will be profoundly missed.

While he is no longer here, I will recall the lessons he taught with his life:
To faithfully love your spouse.
To raise your children in fairness and fun.
To work hard, save money, and invest wisely.
To be a reliable friend and helpful neighbor.
To enjoy the finer things in life
—- like a just ripe peach
—-a peaceful sunset
—- or a glass of cheap wine (because the expensive stuff gave him indigestion.)

But perhaps, most of all, I’ll remember the wink and the phrase he used whenever we’d hug goodbye –
Be good, but…If you can’t be good, be careful.

Be careful, my friends. Be very careful.


I imagine most of you have seen the news story about the events last weekend in Waco.
Nine men lost their lives. Countless others were injured.

Photo by Peachy Weasel
photo courtesy of Peachy Weasel


As I read story after story, I couldn’t help but think.
Each of those men belonged to someone.
He was a son.
Maybe a brother, or an uncle, or a father.
Or husband.
Certainly, a friend.

Chances are, I would not have approved of their life choices.
Chances are, they wouldn’t have approved of mine either.
Does that even matter?
Does that make either of us any less valuable?

We are the same.
We are mean.
We are selfish.
We are timid.
We are stupid.
We are weak.
We are ugly.

We are different.
We are kind.
We are generous.
We are bold.
We are smart.
We are strong.
We are beautiful.


Maybe we should stop looking for reasons to alienate.

Maybe we should start seeing the reality – the humanity.


And Miles to Go Before I Sleep

This week we wrap up Week 23 of our curriculum for the school year. It seems like this school year is flying by faster than the others. Maybe its because I feel like I finally figured out what I am doing. Maybe its because we are really enjoying the Eastern Hemisphere Core from Sonlight.

Now that we are in the last quarter of this year’s curriculum, it is time evaluate our next steps. After much talk and prayer, Hubs and I still feel that homeschooling is the best option for our family. So, we make plans for the future.

And this is where I freak out. Have you seen the future?!? It is scary! So many unknowns. So much pressure. So many decisions to be made.

It seems that the choices made in the 8th grade can to set him up for success (or further challenges) in high school and beyond. Then we need to figure out when should he do Chemistry? What year would be best for Pre-Calculus? What foreign language to do? When???

Then to wonder…..does this mean the end of having Woody & Tigger do certain subjects together? {sigh} I hope not.

And then to wonder…..how much is all this gonna cost? {gulp}

It seems odd to me that I should ask my 12 year old what he wants to pursue for a lifelong career. I mean….he’s 12. He’s not sure what his favorite food is this week, let alone a career choice. For a lifetime.

Regardless of how ridiculous it seemed, I put on my “academic adviser” hat today. I quizzed Woody about what career choices he might enjoy. We discussed the educational requirements for each one, and generally set his course.


photo courtesy of picjumbo

So, here I sit mapping out a high school trek. High school. Let that sink in.   H i g h    s c h o o l .  My sweet little boy.  High school. I think I may faint.

We have a long way to go, but at our current pace, we’ll be on the other side of those mountains before I know it. But until then, as Robert Frost said, there are miles to go before I sleep.


What have been your biggest challenges regarding high school planning? 


2015 Goals

I’m not one to make resolutions for the New Year. However, I have learned that I don’t do well, or rather, don’t do anything beyond my comfort zone, if I don’t make goals. I don’t want to fritter away something as precious as time. I want to be mindful of where I am spending my time and energy. I want to work toward betterment personally, as well as, for my family.


So here are a few of my goals for 2015 including updates for January.

Scripture Memorization
2 verses/month = 24 verses/year

January Verses

  • Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. ~Matthew 5:16
  • Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you. ~Isaiah 60:1

Try at least 2 new recipes per month. (24/year)

January recipes

  • Nadine’s Filipino Chicken Adobo – an out of the ballpark home run! We all loved this one. I’ll share the recipe in February.
  • Chicken Pot Pie – a winner for the kids. It’s not something Hubs would like, so I made it when he was out of town. I tweaked this recipe to suit what we had on hand. The kids are still talking about it. {wink}

2-3 per month = 30 for the year minimum
4 marriage books/4 parenting books
Finish some of these books on my “To Read” Shelf

  • Make It Stick (nonfiction)
  • You Are Not So Smart (nonfiction)
  • Writing Habit Mastery (nonfiction)
  • Freakonomics (nonfiction)
  • Mistakes Were Made (nonfiction)
  • Happier at Home (nonfiction/biography)
  • Year of No Sugar (nonfiction/biography)
  • Making Good Habits (nonfiction)
  • Love & Respect (again) (nonfiction)
  • You & Me Forever (nonfiction)
  • His Needs, Her Needs (nonfiction)
  • Boys Adrift (nonfiction)
  • The Teenage Brain (nonfiction)
  • Setting Limits with Your Strong-Willed Child (nonfiction)
  • The Book Thief (fiction)
  • The Lightning Thief (fiction)
  • Wild (fiction)
  • Mom’s Night Out (fiction)

January books

  • Good Manners for Nice People Who Sometimes Say (nonfiction) finished 1/21
  • Miracles and Massacres (nonfiction) finished 1/22
  • The Age of Edison (nonfiction/biography)finished 1/30
  • The Girl Who Stopped Swimming (fiction) finished 1/1

Let go of perfection.
Your story matters.
Do your best, then click “PUBLISH.”
There is an edit button for a reason.

One Word
I also selected my One Word for the year. The concept is, “Choose just one word. One word you can focus on every day, all year long… One word that sums up who you want to be or how you want to live.” 

My word was selected to focus my attention on light. To seek light, to be light, to reflect light – therefore to SHINE.

Can I tell you how excited I am about Dayspring’s new line? It goes right along with my word! And, oh my, how CUTE!  Now to drop hints to Hubs…

And now, even though I’m certain there are eleven-teen errors. I’m gonna click “PUBLISH” anyway.

What about you? Did you make resolutions or goals? Did you stick with them?



How Did You Get Your Kids to Love Reading?

My boys LOVE reading. They go through books at such a rapid pace. Thankfully, I have a couple of things working for me. One, they will read the same books multiple times. Two, they will read each other’s books.

Reading how to home school handles on home schooling 31 days
The “Love to Read” campaign began when my boys were about 6 & 8 they liked reading. However, it wasn’t something they would ever choose to do if they had free time. I didn’t want to bribe them, or pay them to read because that had the wrong motivation that I wouldn’t be able to continue long term. That’s when I remembered a tip I had filed away.

The tip was one I learned from a friend in high school. He shared that he was diagnosed with dyslexia when he was younger and didn’t really like reading. His parents, in an effort to persuade him otherwise, allowed him to stay up as late as he wanted, as long as he was reading. Well, it worked.

The details of how we implemented it in our house can be found here.

If you try this in your house, I’d love to hear about it!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...