Friday, May 3, 2013

my memorial piece for my father

my father
photo © the Winne family

We called my father "Dood" because when I was a little girl I couldn't say "Dad." It stuck. And so my younger brother, Tom, also called him that.

Dood was a deep and profound thinker, always writing notes and keeping articles on spirituality, music, art, community and architecture. Our conversations on subjects could drag on for hours and even days. In speech he was always careful and thoughtful about what he said; in thought he tried to see all sides of an issue before formulating an opinion. Never one to be impulsive, his thought processes could get mired in many, many details and possibilities before they were formulated into speech, thus in order to really know Bob Winne you had to be patient enough to hear his words.

He told me many, many times throughout my life that I was like him in health, mind and spirit. Indeed we could talk with ease and intuitive understanding about all kinds of subjects. Our love of long walks and conversation dominated our relationship. We rarely parted ways in taste or opinion.

My father fought in World War II in the Battle of the Bulge. Shortly afterwards, he got to know some of the German soldiers he had fought against. He said he realized how impersonal war was from that experience, shooting and killing souls who could be saints -- only because their respective governments told them to do it.

Because of his experiences in war, he became a Quaker, heavily influenced by his conversations with Ken Webb who had started Farm and Wilderness Camps. From there he went on to study the writings and teachings of Gandhi and Martin Luther King.

My brother and I were also brought up Quaker, and in the Quaker way, taught by our parents to respect the speech, identities and life experiences of each person equally, to be humble, to be non-ostentatious, to be careful of our speech towards others in terms of how we effected others. He loved deeply and with sensitivity.

Dood also was constantly working on his own integrity, to be pure and full of heart in his deeds and actions towards other people. He always tried to see the best in everyone around him and take into consideration the challenges they faced; indeed he expressed anger very rarely. During our childhood, I had seen him break into anger only a handful of times and then by the time I was 11, he stopped.

I asked him when I was a teenager why he didn't show anger. His response was that anger was mostly unproductive; it is good only insofar that it serves justice, not hatred or intimidation or for motives which aren't moral.

When I was 18 and leaving home, I thought there were more people like Dood. I came to find out that Dood was rare. Throughout my long life, Dood and I had cross words only 4 times, and three of those times it was trivial: turning down loud music for instance. The more I got beat up in the outside world, the more I sought out the heart and advice of my father.

When he got dementia, it was my cue that I was on my own now and that I had to use what he had taught me to the best effect. Our conversations became about simpler things, but I will always be thankful that his dementia didn't progress to the point where he forgot my name or our common goals and interests.

I feel honored that I was the one who got to spend the last minutes of his life with him. He turned and looked at me as he took his last breath. In many shamanistic cultures, if a dying person looks into your eyes as they take their last breath, their soul merges with yours. I sure hope that is the case and I will let you know...

I don't relish my life without him, but I hope I will hear his voice in my head as I go through all of life's challenges. I hope that I will see certain scenes over and over in my head like the one time Jim and I parked in the driveway where Dood was waiting for us and he outstretched his arms to me and we danced in the driveway. Every moment with him was precious, a gem of enrichment in my life. I hope I can go forward with the joy of having known him rather than the grief of having lost him.

I hope all of you will too.


  1. Oh, Lise, what a moving and wonderful tribute to your very special relationship with your very special Dad! What a wonderful person he clearly was, and what a fantastic rapport the two of you had. I suspect that although you are clearly aware of many of the gifts he gave you, you will continue to discover more and more of them as time goes on. That's the nature of pure, deep love!
    May your healing be rapid and your good memories be bountiful . . .

  2. This brought me to tears. What a wonderful man and father! You are truly blessed to of had him for a parent. Pass on what he has taught you to others as the world needs it.

  3. Dood sounds like a wonderful man and he raised a wonderful daughter. Thanks for sharing such a personal post that show where you came from and much of the reason you are who you are.

  4. Thanks so much all. It helps a lot to have friends like you.

  5. What a beautiful and moving tribute to your father. Filled with so much emotion and love ...

    My father had suffered a stroke while he and I were in conversation, he went into a coma and passed about 6 days later ... I was the last person he saw, he was 64 at the time. I am now 65 and that day is as clear to me as yesterday.

    I can honestly say, all of your hopes in your last paragraph will come true. There are so many times that I have been sitting alone in my front room and I will hear footsteps coming up the front porch steps, and the image of Daddy walking across my front room window to the door is so strong that at times I can see him and I feel it is real. It was a time when he and I had had a heated argument and I had left their home very upset; he came over later and when I opened the door he said "We won't talk about it ... I came to let you know I love you. Can I take you out to lunch?". We went out to lunch ...

    All the special memories you shared with your Dood will remain with you until you two meet again.

    Big hugs sweet friend,
    Karen Anne

    1. Thank you, Karen Anne, for your comforting words.

      I remember when I first heard what he had was terminal, I cried and cried for days in utter shock (even though he was old, you see); he was the apple of my eye.

      I decided I couldn't bear to be without him, so I was with him through all of the changes of his illness (as much as humanly possible -- other family members had dire things going on with them too, so it was a juggling act, the worst triple whammy of my life). When I couldn't be with him because I was taking care of another family member, I produced a series of art pieces in his honor (which I will share when I can) and scanned his photos from baby pictures on, read his war letters, and so on.

      So, if you miss a loved one, and the pain is unbearable, delve into their lives as best you can even if you can't be with them face to face. It really does work.

      And yes, I hope he is the first one I see when I go through the "pearly gates" myself.

  6. By the way, I just found out that this is the 200th post on this blog. Milestone in so many ways.