Dying Man’s Daily Journal – Deeds vs Doer

I have my really groggy head going on this morning. This usually at least in part clears up after a nap. Vi is just bursting with spring time energy. She just loves her flower gardens and is busy planting seeds indoors. We still have about 2 feet of snow so it has to be indoors. Growing from seeds indoors it give the plants a head start on the season. The big window in our living room faces south and has “the best” sun. Soon the floor in there will undoubtedly be covered with flats and various pots. As the little plants grow and the weather improves will begin the task of hauling them all out on to the front step to harden them and them hauling them all back every evening.

Vi is just so full of energy, she has decided to repaint the second spare bedroom. We will be having some very special company this weekend and she want to make it nice. Her brother Henri is coming over to help with a lot of the painting and the 2 of them will do an admirable job. Every good job needs a supervisor and I am going to have to be in top form to fill that role.

Yesterday was March 17th. St Patrick’s Day. I am part Irish and I get to reflect on my proud heritage. Didn’t do any celebrating or at least none that included alcohol. Yesterday, no matter how I tried to avoid it and I did try, became a day of remembering March 17, 1985.

My father passed over on that day. It is hard to believe it is 22 years. This year the thoughts of 22 years ago have bothered me more than most years. In some ways it was my actions, or in-actions and feelings on that day and prior to that day that prompted me to start this journal. Possibly atonement for myself and to help others avoid the mistakes I made and sadly didn’t even realize I had made, until 10/12 years later.

When my father passed, did I feel any sorrow? Now, I am ashamed to admit it but at the time, I only felt relief. I have been trying to find a way to explain the depth of my feelings in some way with out bad mouthing him. I don’t think it is possible to understand  my feelings at that time with out explaining a little of the circumstances at the time. Only by understanding where I was can I explain how far I have come or how my feelings have changed.

My father sadly lost himself in a world of alcohol and subsequent depression. He was in a downward spiral in life.  Some how I lost sight of my father and instead began to see only an harassing drunk. Someone, I saw as seemingly trying to do everything he could to make our lives miserable. Unless you are in that situation you can never really appreciate the depth of the feelings. The words tough love were never thought of but I suppose that was a form of what I tried. No visits, no accepting phone calls when he was drunk. After the first few phone calls that I refused, he got a message to me. The next time I refused to talk to him, he would phone my boss at the Bank to tell him just what an Ass, I was. He did.

It was after years of this that I felt nothing but a sense of relief when he passed. My last conversation with him was very early in the morning of the day before he passed. Our last conversation ended with me hanging up on him.

It is only years later that I realize, I was not separating the deeds from the doer. My anger at the deeds done to me began to be directed at the doer. This is hard to explain but I can now see there is a definite difference. I was a banker for many years so I will try to use a banking issue as a comparison. You go to the bank and apply for a loan and for what ever reason you are declined. You are angry, but who should you be angry at. The Banker, a person just trying to do their job and must follow certain guides and rules. Or, if there is anger would it be more appropriate to be directed at the fact the loan was declined. There is a difference. Separate the deed from the doer of the deed.

In my situation the “deeds” carried on over many years and I became lost in the anger. So lost in the anger I lost sight of the man my father was. When sober a great guy to be around. Would my anger have been more appropriately been directed at the booze and how it affected him and created his dependency on it? What could I have done differently, I don’t know. He refused help or to even admit his drinking was a problem.

I hear stories of people that haven’t spoken in years over some silly little squabble. I just think, huh, so sad, so silly. Separate the deed from the doer and get over it before it is to late.

14 Responses to Dying Man’s Daily Journal – Deeds vs Doer

  1. Catherine says:

    thank you for sharing your story.

  2. ceeque says:

    Hard times, tough love..you recognise the idea that if your thoughts about the condition were different, you also could have behaved differently. Strange world how we come to realise these things later on in our own lives, I too, felt this way about my mum. I wish I could have respected her condition and not condemned and its only now that I realise this…Why is it that we think more and harder about our parents the older we get? All of my family now express more about our parents than we ever did in the past, is it because we are now their age and parents ourselves?
    Hope your head clears soon Bill, take care… 🙂

  3. Mel says:

    Thanks for sharing that, Bill.
    While I try to not shoot the messenger, I can still get that gun out and load it up.
    Isn’t it strange, the clarity that comes–gratefully so we’re not becoming repeat offenders.

    And I leave here even more grateful for another day of sobriety–
    Keep well, Bill.
    And good on Vi for getting that jump start on her garden!

  4. Irene says:

    Dear Bill,

    What a tough situation you were in…Have you wondered about whether your Dad was running to something (like the booze) or was he more running away from something? Fear–it’s amazingly powerful. Forgive him even if he isn’t around in a physical sense. Forgive him for your own sake. Our souls stop growing and shrivel without forgiveness.

    Glad to hear that you and Vi agree that spring is coming!!

    Peace always, Wiseman.

  5. Allison says:

    Wow what a great post Bill. You really can see things from a different light now. It is so easy to be blinded from the real person inside and to only see the masks some people hide behind. For you to see him now is enlighting.


  6. ggirl says:

    I agree that forgiveness is liberating. I understand how hard it is to come to terms with someone who’s made your life hell. On the other hand, limiting contact and phone calls was absolutely the right thing to do. There was nothing you could do to help your dad. Only he could have changed his future. That being the case, you took care of yourself. There’s nothing wrong with that. My dad, after spending many years making everyone in his life miserable, committed suicide several years ago. I know whereof I speak. Take care.

  7. Gloria Allen says:

    Good Morning Bill,
    Yes, I agree you should forgive your Dad, but you NEED to forgive yourself. He was the Parent, you were the CHILD. You may see things more clearly now because you have grown, matured, and found happiness, something I am not sure our fathers ever did.
    You have made some excellent choices Bill, in how you treat people and how they relate to you. Choosing not to be like you father, is one of those excellent choices, not treating your children or other people like that. When we are growing up, I think we put our parents on pedestals and have higher expectations from them(which is O.K., as parents do the same with their children), however as you get older you realize you learn a lot from all people. Some of what your learn , you carry with you and make part of you, other stuff you either let go, or make sure you don’t do to other people. The important thing is we never stop learning or trying.

    Glad to hear you are feeling better.
    4 more sleeps…………..

  8. hudds53 says:

    Dear Cousin Gloria.
    4 more sleeps, Vi and I are both excited about your upcoming visit. I am sure you have heard, but Carol and your mother, Aunt Isabel are coming also. Put 4 Howdle sisters together, what can I say, I thought it best to get your mother here also to help me keep you all in line. lol.

    Your comment contains a lot of wisdom, I thank you for sharing it. I am not sure if it is me or if this is a normal reaction, but I always seem to find it easier to forgive others than myself. One of the issues I am working on.

  9. Carol Anderson says:

    Carol Anderson


    Enjoyed your post! I’m totally with Gloria today. Don’t beat yourself up. As she says, you were the child Forgive your Dad, but let it go.

    We have talked previously about some of our regrets related to our childhoods. It’s kind of funny Bill, but I think you have hit a family nerve with this post; our regrets for the way things were and our wishes for how we knew they should have been.
    Respect demanded because it is demanded but not really deserved is not respect at all.

    One thing we learned from our fathers is how not to treat people. I think most of the cousins are better people because of these childhood experiences.

    Hope the day improves. Looking forward to the visit.


  10. hudds53 says:

    Carol, you are right on. I had not thought of the family nerve thing, but it make sense.

    4 more sleeps as Gloria put it, we are excited.

  11. KEN HOWDLE says:





  12. Sara May says:

    I think what Carol said has great truth in it. Perhaps your father could not teach you values by example. He could only show you the life of a man at the mercy of the bottle. Nevertheless, it was a lesson in itself to you and your brothers. I miss and love you!

  13. babychaos says:

    Cracking post Bill. I guess sometimes you have to let people make their own mistakes and be who they are, even if that hurts those closest and most dear to them. I guess it’s part of the whole bag of unconditional love. It tricky though. God knows it’s tricky.

    You definitely shouldn’t beat yourself up about what you did or didn’t do. You did what you believed was the right thing and that’s what a person should do. That’s all anyone can do? Your anger with your father was natural. What he was doing to himself was a waste of a lovely bloke. It’s really hard to stand by and let someone you love smash themselves up like that…. but sometimes you have to. Maybe that’s part of the lesson that sometimes you can’t make it right no matter how hard you try, that sometimes you can cover all the bases and do bang-on what a person in your situation should be doing and still, you can’t make it right. So you just have to accept that and forgive yourself as well as your dad.

    I’ve recently developed a theory (say she in her best Monty Python voice) and it’s this. We can’t always control the stuff that happens to us or others, we can’t always make it right. BUT… we can control the way we react to both events in our lives and people. WSo although in some ways, we don’t make our own destinies because all this stuff happens, in another way we sort of do through the way we react and the we treat others… which affects the way they treat us in the end.

    Ummm… I’m not sure I’ve put this too well, so I hope it makes sense… 🙂

    God Bless you anyway.



  14. Vicky says:

    I agree with Gloria…… Forgiveness is the name of the game. All round. Especially yourself. You are so very special and we love you lots.

    These things that happen to us as we go through our human experience are all ‘lessons’ and we have the choices on how to react to these lessons. I think you have learnt your lessons well. You have done them well. I am sure you need never have to relearn them.

    Forgive and then let it go.

    Wish we could ne there this weekend as well. Would love to be a fly on the wall. The laughter is going to be awesome with all you bunch together !!!

    Our thoughts will bne with you all ! Have a blast !
    Love and Light

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