GRAND FALLS-WINDSOR, NL – For five decades Dr. Donald Hodder has been saving pieces of work, memories and thoughts.
“In the lottery of life, I was a major winner and I’m immensely grateful to have such an interesting, challenging and rewarding and fulfilling life,” Hodder said.
“I had a really good life. I say it at the beginning of the book. It was a dream scenario.”
Readers can engage in his life by reading Hodder’s book, “Follow Your Bliss. The Life and Times of a Family Doctor,” launched this week.
The advice to “follow your bliss” came from American lecturer and author Joseph John Campbell, Hodder said.
“One of the things he used to advise his students was that out there somewhere, there is something you should be doing that will, as they say, turn your crank. It will be something that will appeal to you more than anything else,” Hodder said. “So, I followed my bliss.”
Hodder said he was lucky to have great parents, wife, children and grandchildren.
“This book is essentially a legacy project for the kids and the grandkids and 100 years from now they will say ‘oh, Pop had a good life.’ I will never see them, but the book will speak across generations,” he said.
Hodder said he has been saving some of the things he wrote 50 years ago for a long time.
For example, the chapter on his philosophy on education is a summary of a dissertation he wrote for a degree in education in 1964 at Memorial University.
There’s a little poem he wrote when he was 10 or 12 years old that was published in the Sunday Herald, a forerunner of the Newfoundland Herald.
The book is a memoir telling tales of joy and sorrow, humour and fulfillment.
“I keep saying I was destined to be a carpenter, a teacher, a preacher, a healer, a comforter of the sick and the sad and lonely, but I never walked on water,” Hodder said.
He tells stories of his childhood in Creston South, his education including his pre-medical days at Memorial University, graduating from the Dalhousie University Medical School in 1969 and becoming a family physical – the first person from his community to do so.
It tells of his times as a family doctor and community involvement including Kiwanis International, among other topics.
Hodder spent 45 years as a family doctor. He practiced in Bishop’s Falls for 26 years, retiring in 2000. He then did various locums.
“In the early 2000s my friend up here (in Grand Falls-Windsor), Dr. Greenland, who was a really busy family doctor, he got sick and eventually passed away due to cancer. So, I filled in for him and I retired again in 2014,” Hodder said.
After he retired for the second time, Hodder worked on his book every day. In 2016 he found a publisher, hired a copy editor and got friends to read parts to give guidance. It was finished in July 2017 and published by FriesenPress just before Christmas.
Net profits from the book are going to go to the South and Central Health Foundation, the Kiwanis Music Festival – which Hodder has been involved with for 40 years – and the Salvation Army Social Services.
He said the book will also be sold at hospital gift shops in central Newfoundland, Shoppers Drug Mart in Grand Falls-Windsor and Bishop’s Falls, Central Pharmacy and Grand Falls Drug Store.
It is also available as an eBook on Amazon and FreisenPress.
Hodder’s brother in Marystown has books to sell, and Burin Pharmacy and Shoppers Drug Mart in Marystown are also carrying the book.
When the book was completed and published, Hodder said he had a real feeling of fulfillment.
“The last chapter is called ‘fulfillment,’” Hodder said. “At the end of your book and at the end of your life if you can say you feel fulfilled, it’s an absolutely wonderful place of contentment to be. As the Buddha said, contentment is the greatest wealth.”