Father’s Day: Do not go gently…

My son, take care of your father when he is old; grieve him not as long as he lives.

Even if his mind fail, be considerate with him; revile him not in the fullness of your strength.

For kindness to a father will not be forgotten…

The Book of Sirach

Father’s Day has changed for me. My father – my rock and foundation as I became a man and then father – is different these days. Now in his 85th year, he is less steady, less sure. His strength is slowly ebbing, but this year the slide has been more dramatic. He is mentally sharp as ever and all in all, in relatively good health for an octogenarian. And I am lucky in that way, for many friends and co-workers will not have their fathers this Father’s Day. But the days of fishing are over.

Good times summer fluke fishing in 2009...

Good times summer fluke fishing in 2009…

Our last fishing trip was in September of 2012. My Dad is not an early riser, and not a fisherman, but has always encouraged me, and for a number of years, would go with me. This last time he had to be up at oh-dark-thirty – an early riser he has never been – but he did just that to spend the day with me. We had a beautiful day, jigging in 90 feet of water for blues off NJ. My Dad did not fish, but he sat, relaxed, and acted as official photographer the entire time.

Jigging up blues - always a blast...

Jigging up blues – always a blast…

After that trip I remember him telling me how sore he was – his legs, he said, were aching. In 2013 he fell and couldn’t remember falling. He had suffered a stroke and some bleeding on the brain that miraculously, resulted in no damage to the brain or to his ability to function in any way. And this year he cancelled coming up for my son’s graduation. Hearing that he may never visit my family in our home again was difficult to take.

The Welsh poet Dylan Thomas wrote a poem for his aging father as he faced death. The poem makes a statement on how to accept what we all must face. Old age, frailty, and death are inevitable, even for fathers. But should we resign our lives to them, or fight them on the way down? To me the poem makes it clear that it’s our obligation – indeed, our duty even – to fight and to live.

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 grieved 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 that 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.

This Father’s Day, I pray for strength for all fathers, particularly those in the evening hours of their lives. It is never too late and life is too dear to go gentle into that good night.





6 Responses to “Father’s Day: Do not go gently…”

  1. Bob Stanton Says:

    Rage, rage, indeed Bob. Good post, and hey, everyone should have a little Dylan Thomas from time to time!

  2. Thanks Bob. This poem is so appropriate for those who face the dark, or who will one day face it. The poem was shared by a group of us who laid my own father’s ashes in the ground.

    • stflyfisher Says:

      Yes it is Walt. Glad you recognize it. I’m sorry to hear of your own father’s passing. Hopefully he did not go gentle into that good night… Thanks for keeping in touch.

  3. This is so inspiring! I want to try fly fishing with my whole family. Excellent post! Thanks!

    • stflyfisher Says:

      Thanks for your nice comment, Jill. Fly fishing is a lot of fun and very challenging. Hope you do pursue it! Tight lines…

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