Do Not Go Gentle Into That Goodnight

My Old Man, looking a bit Dylan Thomas-like.
My Old Man, looking just a bit like Dylan Thomas.

I’ve been doing a little series of “best-of” posts relating to Fatherhood this week. And I’ll be posting a bit more of an original one this week. But I can’t let Fathers Day pass by without sharing this poem again.

I talked with my father tonight and our parting words were the same as they so often have been lately:

“I love you, Dad.”

“I love you too, Bud.”

Now, when I became Bud to him, I’m not certain. I noticed it a few years back. But if you knew our history, you might grasp how precious those words are to me.

I ran away from him when I was 16, moved back after I graduated high school. I won’t get into the details from so many years ago, but I felt misunderstood by him, scared of him. I didn’t realize that so many men from his generation suffered the same struggle, an inability to communicate with his son in ways that I felt I needed. When I did figure it out (He seemed much smarter to me after I turned 25), I was determined that he and I would have a good relationship whether he liked it or not.

Well, of course he liked it. We lost my mother to cancer on the Good Friday before Easter in my 18th year. I was determined not only to be the kind of father my children needed me to be, but to remember and honor him for what he tried to do, even if I misunderstood it, and he was unable to speak the words of encouragement and love I wanted to hear.

After I came out (so much turmoil and tumult I try to summarize with those few words), while he still had a hard time finding the words, especially in person, he must have gone out of his way to search the stands of the local pharmacies for the right birthday and Christmas cards to send me. The cards said things they had never said before, how proud he was of me, how much he loved me and how much joy I brought to his life. I still get choked up when I get a card from him, and I know it’s not his new lovely bride picking them out.

At my sister’s wedding, I brought my partner (at the time) with me. It was a bit weird, I admit, especially being there with my boyfriend, my three sons, my former wife, and my sister’s son and daughter. We were obviously an eclectic mix, and though there was still some strife (mostly quietly) in my extended family about the fact that I, the former ministry student and youth pastor was openly gay, and here at a family function, still it did not stop my father from showing me how much he loved me.

He was always better at showing than he was at telling. It was outdoors, by the river, 11426735_10206388428616739_2790340549363484798_oas I remember it. There was an area that I think was something of a dance floor, a reception spot maybe, after the vows were said and before the festivities began. It was a scene from a movie, or that’s how it plays in my memory. Slow motion, the crowd parts as my father walks towards us. People glance about nervously, though it’s likely that was just in my imagination.

Dad walks right past me and holds out his hand to Brian (the previous Brian, you may remember), and says, “I just wanted to welcome you to the family.” And one quiet man nodded to the other and it was done. Hugs, and on with the wedding celebration.

That to me said more than words could have said, especially coming from an old former Baptist missionary and Bible teacher like my old man. And I love him for it, and for every word of support and every smile and hug before or since.

Dad is 82 now and though he remains healthy and stubborn as ever, I worry. I’m glad that today was the last Fathers Day I will ever work (more news on that upcoming) at a job that keeps me away from family on days like that. Who knows how many more we’ll have?

Now this poem means a lot to me, knowing that Dylan Thomas wrote it for his father before his father died, and I start to get a sense of why. Keep plugging along, as strong and as ornery as you can, Raymond Bauman. I love you.

Yours, Bud

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieve it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

©1937 by Dylan Thomas

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8 Replies to “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Goodnight”

  1. One of my favourite poems. I lost my father more than 20 years ago but this still think of him, especially on Father’s Day, of course. Thanks for letting us into your relationship with your dad – lovely x

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have nothing but respect for your blog. I am deeply passionate about poetry myself, and I love to stumble upon the ever so rare gems on this site. Yours is truly one.
    Hope in time I can receive a follow from a lovely writer such as yourself (:

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I like your reading of this ….

    I don’t know what it is about this poem — maybe because I lost my father at such a young age? — but, it always hits me in the gut, and I don’t think I’ve ever read it without getting a little misty-eyed.

    Liked by 1 person

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