Recently, my sister Michele, wrote some things about our father, Paul Winsor. I am sure it shocked many people, and some people don’t believe her. I wasn’t living at home when those things happened, but I believe and support her. I don’t say that just to be supportive, but based on my experience, it is consistent with his behavior to me.
Even so, my dad wasn’t all bad. First the good, then the bad. I want this to be balanced and fair, even though it isn’t going to be pleasant.
I can say that I’ve been in therapy for a total of over 15 years since leaving my home town. It’s helped, but it will be a work in process for the rest of my life.
Dad was a pioneer in many things related to veterinary medicine. He proved it was in the best interests of ranchers to utilize preventive medicine, and showed them how it made them more prosperous. He developed preventive treatment for “shipping fever” which cattle can get when they are stressed by being hauled around for long distances in semi-trucks or just by being handled more than normal.
His colleagues were always telling me that he was a great surgeon and diagnostician.
Beyond that, I learned a lot from him that was not specific to veterinary medicine. I learned about giving great service to clients, how to take a phone message, and he always did the right thing for his clients, even when it cost him more time or money. On the rare occasions that he made a mistake, he admitted it freely to his clients and made sure he did the right thing in making it up to them.
Dad also taught me the value of volunteering in the community to make it a better place for everyone. I can’t tell you how many organizations he served as a volunteer member and/or officer. Most of them were local, but some were statewide and even national. He helped found the American Bovine Practitioners Association, and was on the original board of directors. He was an officer in the Oklahoma Veterinary Medical Association, and was on the admissions committee for the College of Veterinary Medicine at OSU.
Locally, he was president of the Chamber of Commerce, an advisor to the Future Farmers of America program at Coalgate High School, offered his services to FFA and 4-H members for their show animals at no charge, and only had them pay his cost for any medicines he used. He raised money for local causes and was always ready to help with anything that would benefit Coalgate and Coal County.
He taught me to be tolerant of people who are different. Someone’s color or sexual preference didn’t make any difference to him, because he understood that isn’t a choice. It’s just part of who you are.
Growing up, people would always tell me how much they admired and appreciated Dad. They were always asking if I was going to follow his footsteps and come back to work with him. I would smile and say “Maybe.” Inside I would cringe in terror.
Dad was twisted and malformed emotionally. His mother, my grandmother, was truly evil and abusive, and her special target was my dad. I don’t think Grandma Winsor knew how to love, but she sure knew how to hate. My dad never recovered from that, and he never dealt with it. Unfortunately, his family suffered because of that.
I can’t speak for anyone else but me, but living with my dad, for me, was an exercise in fear. I never knew what would set him off, never knew when it was coming, but when he decided to, explode. When he did explode, it would hurt.
The physical abuse included fists and things like his buggy whip. It happened so many times, I didn’t know there was something wrong with it. I also didn’t know what would precipitate it.
He was always physically abusive, but he escalated it when I was in junior high, and I stopped him from hitting my mother. From then on, the physical bruises were almost constant. He took delight in hitting me without any warning.
The emotional abuse was incredible. I can attest that he never kept a promise to me. Whether it was a small promise, or a major commitment, he broke every one.
The last was the day I moved into the dorm my freshman year in college. All my life, I was told I would have to work while in college, but my dad would pay what I couldn’t pay. He told me that day, that I was on my own, and he never paid a penny.
Even before that, his mantra for me was nothing I did was ever good enough. Nothing I ever did was good enough for him. He delighted in telling me, “You are sorry, worthless, and will never amount to anything.”
The last time he hit me, I was a senior in high school, I was sitting watching television with him, and he, without any provocation, started in on his favorite theme for me. I had my leg in a cast from a broken leg at the time. After about five minutes of the harangue, I got up, and using crutches left the room for my bedroom. He yelled at me to come back, and I said that I wasn’t going to listen to that any more.
He caught me outside my sisters’ room, and sucker punched me in the back of my head, knocking me to the floor. I curled up in a ball, afraid he was going to kick me, but he just stood over me yelling and demeaning me. It wasn’t the last time he was verbally abusive, but at least he never hit me again. That probably saved one of our lives.
I learned a lot from Dad. How to be a good citizen. How to be a good businessman. How not to treat my children.
For that I will be forever grateful. He had great talents and abilities to go with his great flaws. He was tormented and passed that torment on to his family. Fortunately, I was able to break the pattern.
I thank God for that.