Saturday, December 9, 2017

Wedding photos of Robert F. Winne and Patricia Holland

Patricia and Bob cutting their wedding cake 

Note: I have not included the names of guests. If someone wants their name associated with a particular photo, please contact me.

the couple:

some of the guests:

wedding announcement in Robert F. Winne's hand:

part of the vows said at the wedding:

Friday, December 8, 2017

lessons about bullying

This is a photo I took of my father at age 15 (I was taking care of him at the time).
I took this picture to never forget what he had been called to go through.
The original wasn't blue, but that is all I changed about it.
It is clear to me now that he was going through severe PTSD at the time.

(written by Lise Winne, Robert's daughter)

There were some issues that my father struggled with all of his life. Some of the conversations went on for days, as though he was trying to crack the code. One of those issues had to do with "bullying."

I would describe my father as ill-prepared for that darker part of human nature. He didn't grow up with controlling parents and he had a loving, respectful relationship with his sister which rarely broke out in fights.

He sometimes acted up as a child, which, as I understood it, happened most often when he was put to bed. Like a lot of children, he still hadn't finished playing or talking and would somehow manage to do both in a dark room with the lights out. His parents would come into the room and say in a reasonable calm voice, "Now you're getting awfully obstreperous in here; it's time to go to sleep, Bobby." They would keep saying it, through the evening if they had to, but they never punished him or made him do a "time out" (isolation for a period of time). He was certainly never physically disciplined by them and hated the thought of them being disappointed in him, so for the most part, he worked very hard to gain their approval. They exhibited a very gentle style of parenting and gave him a lot more independence than a lot of parents in those days. So there was no bullying in the home.

His parents were a very loyal couple. My grandmother in her sixties and seventies, was still good looking and young for her years, and became a "desirable catch" among older men in her senior living home. Her husband had passed away a decade earlier. She would tell these elderly gentlemen that she was already married. To her, marriage was forever, and if she went off with someone else, it would mean she was unfaithful. She took "until death you do part" to mean her death, even as she outlived her husband by twenty years. Even so, it was clear that she deeply loved and adored Mr. Winne Sr., that he was the apple of her eye, that no one could replace him, and she would always keep her marriage vows in honor of him.

My father's grandparents lived only blocks from his home and he would often stop to chat with them on his way home from school. They treated him with the same kind of respect that his parents treated him with.

His town neighborhood consisted of families very much like his own. Everyone had unlocked doors, and children could go into a house and announce their presence. My father would let the neighbor know he had entered a neighbor house by yelling, "It's me, Bobby! I'm downstairs in your livingroom!" and the woman of the house would greet him and ask him a bunch of questions, and even give him a snack if he wanted one. He learned how to talk to many adults, and I think this is why he always had a very respectful manner of speaking and an unusually keen way of listening and absorbing what was said. My sense is that neighbors were a resource for all children, and if a child couldn't get a skill from his parents, he simply went to another house to learn the skill.

The other children in the neighborhood were brought up in the same style as my father, respectful of adults, in homes with loving faithful parents who took their vows seriously, so there was no bullying to be found in his neighborhood.

He went to school in a town renowned for its teachers' college. The teachers were non distracted spinsters who were fabulous at their professions, but also very strict. As my father told it, "There was no nonsense in my school. You toed the line or else!" There were many young student teachers as well, but they were under the watch of these heavy-handed nun-like matrons of education. So there was no bullying there.

The camp that he went to every summer was run by a couple of lovey-dovey Quakers who believed in talking things out in a systematic, non-confrontational way. He became heavily influenced by them and sought the same ideals they did. So he didn't experience bullying there either.

For all intents and purposes, he was a sheltered child in the way that he never saw unpleasant human interactions, much the way the Buddha never saw old age or death until he left home.

I would describe my relationship with my father very much like the relationship he had with his parents: I was never physically disciplined by him, he had a calm way of parenting and I didn't want to disappoint him. I was probably a good deal more misbehaving than he was as a child (I did have a lot more anger than he did, but it had nothing to do with him at all). I did experience quite a bit of bullying as a child, but never quite understood why I was a target (what child does?). A few incidents had to do with bigotry and sexism (I was naturally non-prejudiced) and in school, my clothes were sometimes an issue (out-dated clothes make one a target). But beyond that I never understood what makes a person a target. Even when given reasons, the reasons always seemed irrational.

So, both my father and I were ill-equipped to know how to deal with bullying, why people wanted to bully, how they got that way, what was the grand purpose, and so on. We couldn't even muster up the thoughts "because of the bully wanting to dominate, for power and control" in those days. I can tell you that it was the single-most troubling issue of his life. It became the most troubling issue of my life too. The times in his life where he was hurt deeply, had to do with this subject. The pain festered in his heart for years, even decades. It took direct assault on his self esteem, his sense of security (in a world where a brutal war had already done quite a bit of damage in terms of PTSD). I didn't know what to do to ease his misery, to pluck it out of his mind or heart, or understand it myself. All I could do was commiserate. I would just try to find distractions, suggest walks, look at art together, talk about projects. In the end, it would sometimes amount to a long conversation about morality.

In my own life, as a child, I either put up with bullying by counting days I would be at summer camp (safety) or I would isolate to my room with a guitar, art supplies or by writing. In adulthood, I dealt with it by running away from it and the people who perpetrated it.

So when this subject was continually brought up by my father, I would listen for long periods of time, shrug my shoulders and say, "I guess some people are just bad and don't care." In other words, I didn't think to study it. All I knew was that I didn't want bullying in his life, or in my life.

The last few years of his life, I began to resent his insistence on returning to this subject. I don't know why I had such little tolerance for it other than it disturbed me that he hadn't found a way to work it through his system all the years, but I see now, that it was an unresolved, not-understood issue in his mind, all the way up to and through his death. In a way he was looking to me to absolve him of this terrible burden. "Oh, but Dood, I love you. You're the apple of my eye," I'd say, hoping that would ease his pain.

I think it is so clear to me now why being bullied was such a festering wound: no tools, so ill prepared, the arrows went right to his heart and he didn't know how to block it, other arrows went to his head and he didn't know how to block it there either. There was very little understanding of why people indulge in this activity when it is so unpleasant and hurtful to other people (I don't think he ever felt a lack of conscience, so he couldn't understand why other people weren't haunted by their actions).

I don't think lessons ever stop because a person dies. I was with him when he died, so in a way, I felt that the lesson simply jumped over to me and continued within my life. And oh boy, did it ever!

The one thing that I did differently was to try to understand it at every angle through research and talking to thousands of people (yes, thousands). Every time I would discover something, I'd say, "Are you listening Dood? Did you just hear what I heard? It has absolutely nothing to do with you."

I have had many vivid dreams of my father on this journey with me. Even though he has passed away, I feel it is a discovery for both of us and I'm working so hard to uncover what it all means in his honor. This is one of the reasons I am making illustrations on the subject, why I wrote this blog post on family scapegoating and why I ended up writing an entire blog on the subject. I could make art in his honor 'til kingdom come (and my art and studio are very much linked to my father), but resolving the bullying issue, even if it never gets resolved with the bullies themselves (and becomes only a contribution to society) is what I seem to be living for, for both of us.

My father, as soon as he was an adult, became part of the force of pushing back one of the most notorious bullies and sociopath narcissists of all time: Adolf Hitler in World War II. He lost his entire unit and almost lost his life. Going from a serene polite childhood surrounded by honest people of integrity to an all-out assault kind of war with inadequate equipment (no winter coats or boots, very few reinforcements, sleeping on the ground in winter), had to be incredibly traumatizing for him. I can't under-estimate the trauma that it caused.    

In civic and personal life, bullies were even more perplexing, i.e., "why does this have to go on in peace-time as well?"

Bullies can't see you for who you really are (the divine self, agape love); they only see you in terms of what they can or cannot control. You live or die in their hearts based on that. They see you only as an extension of their wants and needs and you can be demoted and discarded at any time for not feeding it. They have an intuitive sense of your vulnerabilities (where they can play on your shame and self esteem, and even where you'll get sucked in by pronouncements of love) but beyond that, they can't see a thing. They are pure manipulators, always trying to get a talon into you or punish you if you get too far out, always trying to get you to think about them, even if they have to use fear to do it.

War is probably not much different: a soldier's divine self is probably rarely considered and, at any rate, much like the uniform where one soldier looks like another, not about a person (their individuality), but only about their fitness, their resources, their abilities and how they can be manipulated and controlled to bring about an outcome. My father described the war as "deeply impersonal" (his quotes). In other words, who knows who you're firing at between the trees: saints? an only son? a father of a sick boy and a deceased mother? What horror!

So he never wanted to be put in a position like that again and was determined to live in peace ... except: bullies found him! And rattled him to his core!

The thing is, my father died in peace, with a clear conscience. You have to have incredible courage to go through the dying experience. He died with unresolved issues, but no regrets. Both he and I have had near death experiences (that is, before he died). We knew that near death experiences could make regrets loom huge over your consciousness and practically take over. In fact, regrets can be like demons (yes, you hallucinate, and no, you don't have control over them -- the regrets are in your face all of the time, totally terrifying, haunting). Many therapists say that this is when people who have been sleeping through life with their egos on begin to wake up. If you have near-death experiences, you begin to want to clear your conscience sooner before the BIG D. When you are in the throes of experiencing pain, you do not want to cause pain to others, and the memories of the pain can linger, meaning that you won't hurt people long after the experience either.

People always have a chance to wake up at any time and do the right thing, but for some reason, bullies usually run away from doing the right thing. They leave behind the good people. Honest people don't think about their egos; they think about intimacy. Life always challenges us: we can either take on more regrets or lessen the regrets we already have.  

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Camp Seaforth in the Virgin Islands

Lise Winne writing the post today.

My understanding of my father's role in Camp Seaforth in the Virgin Islands is that he designed some buildings for it, accompanied on his trips to the location by Ken Webb, starting somewhere around 1969.

The Beach area where the camp was located was full of manchineel apple trees -- "quite poisonous, with acidic sap that could burn one’s skin" (quote by Rick Hausman).

Rick Hausman recalls setting up the camp:
"I went alone to Virgin Gorda via Puerto Rico. In P.R., I bought tents, dishware, cookware, and related supplies to outfit the camp. Meanwhile, back at the office, we were recruiting campers and staff."

He had a few other words to say:
"... you’ll hear wondrous tales of evacuations and near-miss hurricanes, a tiny sunfish sailboat with a single camper spotted just before he disappeared around the end of the island into the Atlantic current, the days when there was no motor boat to ferry water and supplies. I believe a sometimes-functional walkie-talkie was the only means of communication with the outside world. If the ACA only knew…"

Saturday, April 22, 2017

A Celebration of His Life Today

It was 4 years ago today that my father, Robert F. Winne, passed away. 

I found this lovely picture of him in the computer today. I think this captures his essence: innocent, sweet, ingratiating, evolved, thoughtful. Most of all, he was super-lovable and an ultra-empath, something the world always needs more of (and which I am seeking in my own life -- to be, and to be around).

I think about him every day, and particularly when I am in my studio (which happens to be almost all day long these days). He inspires me in my art, in my life, and in the last conversation I had with him: "Don't be docile" ... "You are meant to do something for the world" ... I hope I am fulfilling his dream of me in the moments in the studio as I draw and paint on his tables.


Here is the unadulterated photo of him (without the border). Love you, Dood, and for all eternity:

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

a philosophical moment with my father during his "dementia years", plus solving the hypoglycemia problem by taking away sugar

"Contemplating the Big Life Issues"

Lise Winne writing the post today:

There was a remarkable experience I had with my father during the years when he had dementia. It was as though his dementia disappeared for awhile, and in its disappearance, there was a deep conversation that took place. 

He actually realized he had dementia, and he did not like that he couldn't remember things from moment-to-moment, but in many other ways, he did not seem like someone with dementia at all. In fact, he was teaching me French in the last four months of his life, and retained a remarkable vocabulary, and could even rattle off names of artists who were influencing how he looked at landscapes or street scenes as we took drives here and there.

Anyway, he came to stay with us for a long period of time, just him, by himself. 

In the first few days, my thoughts were very much focused on how to keep him safe, and that meant cutting back on anything that could be confusing or where he could get lost. In fact, a "dementia episode" happened in Portland, Oregon where he went to go for a walk, but then forgot where he was or how to get back. He was then picked up by police. The police called me first, as my number was found at the top of a list located in his wallet. He was rescued by the people he was staying with, but I wanted to make sure it didn't happen again, especially under my watch.

So, I kept away from turnpikes where the bathrooms had too many stalls, and there were too many cars to choose from in the parking lot. I always traveled back roads with him, and never once did he panic at not knowing where he was or where to go. I tried to make traveling and our times together in my home as stress-free as possible.

I had read somewhere that some new research had uncovered that simple carbohydrates and sugars had a lot to do with dementia. He had a terrible time with hypoglycemia, fainting or feeling faint on walks, usually starting in mid-morning, around 10:00. So, I had a sixth-sense that the hypoglycemia was connected to the dementia somehow, even though I did not thoroughly research it at the time. 

His doctors in his own home town had suggested he carry around candy lozenges and granola bars to use when he felt faint. These are loaded with sugar, of course, good for an emergency. The problem with this approach, as I saw it, was that the whole day, then, would be full of, what he termed as sugar-lows. Every two hours, like clock-work, the sugar-lows would reappear, and there would be another crisis, where he would have to sit down or lean on me until his lozenges or candy bar would revive him again. 

Sugar-lows were greatly debilitating. He had tingling in his hands and feet, blurry vision, feelings that he was sleep-walking, slurred speech, looking dazed and confused, feeling weak, being barely awake for lunch, and a host of other problems. In other words, he was clear in the morning, but by mid morning and the rest of the day, his mind, memories and speech seemed to suffer. He would also take huge naps in the afternoon. With the exception of his professorial intelligence, it was like taking care of a toddler in that he needed a big nap in the afternoon, and everywhere I went, I had to take snacks, and be fine tuned to how he was feeling at all times. 

So, I tried a different approach. I took his lozenges and all of his pick-me-ups out of his luggage when he would arrive for his visits. I cleared my home of fruit juices, honey, chocolate, raisins, boxed cereals, ice cream, anything that resembled franken-food (like chips, a simple carbohydrate, though there was never much of that anyway), indeed every kind of sugar-laden thing except fresh fruit (whole and fresh like oranges, grapes, blueberries, strawberries and the like). In the morning I fixed oatmeal and eggs. He as sure wanted sugar with these meals, but I didn't give it to him, and explained that I was trying an experiment to see if it made a difference in terms of his sugar-lows

I can tell you that it made a huge difference. While I did carry around his lozenges in his snack pack for the first few days of this experiment, I eventually saw that I didn't need to, that I could carry around nuts, or crackers and cheese, or crackers and unsweetened nut butters, with water. In general, except for the whole wheat crackers, I kept carbohydrates to a minimum. In the evening I sometimes made pasta with a lot of vegetables or fixed a potato, but primarily most meals were soups, salads, meat, fish, lentils, split peas, eggs, dairy, stews, avocadoes, sometimes with or without a small portion of wild rice or brown rice. For dessert, I would hand him a banana.

All meals were also alcohol-free (alcohol turns to sugar in the body).

I ate this way right along with him.

How did it make a difference? Well, first off, he no longer felt faint at all, and I mean not at all. He did not even need his afternoon nap. In fact, not once on these solo trips did he even suggest that he needed a nap. While he still had dementia, it seemed to cut the symptoms in half. He was as clear in the morning as he was in the afternoon. It cut way, way back on his confusion, the disorientation episodes, the tingling sensations, feeling weak and unable to continue with an activity. He could still have issues with short term memory, but even that seemed "better." 

The lesson here is perhaps that if you are feeling physically well, your mind responds better too?

I tried to tell some of my other family members about my experiments with his diet, but I was not taken seriously ("You are not a doctor", I was told, among other things). So, when he was not at my home, he was back to his old diet and his old ways, and there was not much I could do about it.

If you are reading this, and have an open mind, try this experiment out yourself if you have a loved one who has dementia and/or hypoglycemia. It may bring your loved one back to life, or at least reverse the effects of dementia somewhat.

Anyway, my times with him in the "dementia years" were mostly about activities, taking long walks, going to art museums, taking pictures together, playing music, listening to music, gong to parties, and so on. I actually did not engage in many full discussions with him, especially emotional ones, because I did not know how to proceed into these subjects when dementia was part of the picture. So, I would often end these discussions with suggestions like "Would you like to pick flowers today? Look at how sunny it is!" often hugging him from behind. I felt optimism, light, nature and fun might be a good antidote to dementia, and hypoglycemia, and past experiences he might dwell on where he had experienced too much depression and PTSD.

But, I realized I was too quick to judge his capacity for deep thought and conversation. The whole way driving him home, the conversation between us got deep and philosophical, and I was floored by his ability to have such a discussion. 

It went something like this, though obviously this is the shortened version:

As I was driving, a car came into my lane and my father yelled "Watch it!" The other driver managed to swerve back into his own lane just in time. The road at that point was carved out of a cliff. On my side, there was a steep drop. The other lane had a steep rock bank. In other words, we were trapped in narrow confines, with nowhere to go should the driver have not realized what he was doing in the nick of time. 

It was pure luck that we managed to avoid a car accident. 

He seemed a bit shaken up after wards, and I said that I was sorry, that the type of road it was had not given me many choices. And then I said that it was perhaps a matter of being lucky, and that perhaps he, my father, was my "lucky star" because he had managed to be the only one of his troop in WWII who was not killed or injured, and that maybe he was carrying his star in the car with him at the time (I admit that sometimes I talked to him as though he was a child).

His response was something like this:

Well, maybe I do have a bit of luck. I've never thought of myself as lucky, but perhaps, in the end, that is what life is about more than our plans, or our abilities, who we marry or don't marry, who our kids are and what they become or don't become, who we meet or don't meet, or even whether I can control what happens to me in a car on the way home. 

And I'm not even wanting to control this car. I know somehow, that I have lost my ability to drive effectively, with my memory and all. 

I notice that a lot of old folks, when they lose control, can't stand the idea, and try to overcompensate by trying to control more in their lives, rather than less. I think that is foolish. I think at some point, you have to realize that life is very much about going with the flow, accepting fate, and people for who they are, and things that happen. It is a kind of surrender.

The life of surrendering my goals and my control is a good experience, I feel. It comes with a kind of beauty and peace. It is like looking at a field of flowers, say, and instead of picking flowers to take home with you, the flowers are already picked, but with your eyes, instead of your hands. You surrender to leaving them where they are. 

Even if you don't have flowers at home, memory is like a flower. Do you see what I'm saying? 

You open your memories like a flower opens to the sun. And mind goes to the memory of the field of flowers instead of concentrating on a lack of flowers at home. When you realize this, a lot of peace fills your life and even your body. 

You'll get to this place too, one day. So, just remember what I'm saying. We all get to the inevitable, but this intermediary phase is worth experiencing in all of its glory, without struggling against it. If you struggle against it, you won't truly experience what it is, and you won't see the beauty in it. There is a lot to be said for bringing your mind into a state of feeling fearless in the face of death, and that is what this is. 

My initial reaction to that car was a knee-jerk reaction of fear, of course, but the fear is not long lasting and does not make me want to struggle with it and hold onto it. I let it go, and the trust returns. 

That is the thing about all of us animals. All animals have to travel somewhere. We are not always safe, but we count on the herd, more or less, to keep us safe. 

Some animals drive the pack. 

Some animals get swept up in the herd, going forward. If you don't follow, you get stampeded. That's where I am. 

The contentment that comes at the end of life is well earned. It's a very different life than when you are a young buck and you are trying to get your career going, and a family started and all of the responsibility that comes with it. And when you are at that point, you think it will last forever. You realize you could have something come up that could end it all, but for the most part, you are trying to sustain that day to day. You don't have any concept of living in the state I am in now. I'm sure that it doesn't cross most young minds. But I can tell you that from this vantage point there is a kind of claustrophobia about the day-to-day striving, carrying a mortgage, worrying how whether you are treating your kids and wife the best way you can treat them so that you don't do any damage to them, how to be the best teacher you can be, how to play an instrument expertly and with feeling, how to keep the weeds out of the garden, how to make the perfect architectural drawing that will change your life, how to treat your colleagues in meetings where there are a lot of different perspectives and sometimes very opposing perspectives, and being able to afford the next new car -- all of those things. And it really isn't what life is all about; it is only a part of what life is about. And maybe it is much smaller than the allotment we give to it. It certainly seems to be too much of what life is about early on, so that you miss a lot of experience of just enjoying your relationships, and your children, and your home. 

I like getting up in the morning, going downstairs into the dining room, and looking out at the bird feeder, and enjoying the potted plants in the windowsill, and seeing the place mats all in a row on the table. You miss so many of these simple things running here and running there, and trying to keep so many things together. 

It is like this great whirring machine slows down, and goes quiet, and you finally understand what real peace and joy is: it is just in these simple things around your home and your garden. It is just where you are at any given moment, even if it is just closing your eyes in bed. When I close my eyes I sometimes remember the bad things that happened to me, but mostly these days I remember the good things. I think a lot about the past. For instance, I might think about how my grandfather carried me on his shoulders when I was a tot, and how much I felt lucky to be his grandson and to be loved by such a great man. I might think about how one of my army buddies came to comfort me after a big battle, which can mean the world when you are frightened out of your wits. I might think about Ken Webb and his grand visions. It is all of these things, reliving them with a different perspective. And sometimes I am not in bed with the lights out when I think about these things. Sometimes I am thinking about these things while enjoying watching some squirrel trying to get at the seed in the bird feeder. 

It is enlightening to come to this point. If I am intentional about it, it seems to stoke the enlightenment about it even more. I just notice so many more things now, without feeling I have to be an active participant. 

After this conversation, and letting him out of the car, I drove home with tears in my eyes, realizing that he was one of the most beautiful evolved souls I had ever known, or indeed ever had significant time with during my lifetime, and that I might lose him and his perspectives some day. 

I would think a person would have to be evolved to think in this manner in the first place, but with dementia it seemed incredible.

There were times I wondered if he had dementia at all (he was actually diagnosed with Alzheimer's -- but based on memory tests alone), but at these times I had my doubts. I could call him up on the phone and he might re-tell the same story over and over and over again, seem confused about nearly everything and be slurring his words. And then there were times like this, where he was so clear as to seem misdiagnosed. 

In fact, I sometimes wondered if the hypoglycemia was driving the bus, rather than some kind of brain defect.  

Writing this down is a way to always remember the things he said. I also share it with family, and with others who happen to find this page, about one way to live in the world, especially when you are old. 

  Robert F. Winne as an old man
(photo taken in a small food market)