Men like my father cannot die. They are with us still-real in memory as they were real in flesh-loving and beloved forever.
Can I believe my friends all gone, when their voices are still a glory in my ears? No, and I will stand to say no, and no again. In blood I will say no. For they remain a living truth within my mind.
Is my mother gone, she who knew the meaning of my family, and taught us all to know it with her?
My brothers, with their courage and their strength, who made me proud to be a man among them?
Is Bronwen gone, who proved to me that the love and strength of woman is greater than the fists and muscles and shoutings of men?
Did my father die under the coal? But, God in heaven, he is with me now, in the heat of his pride in my penmanship–in his quick understanding of my troubles-in the wisdom of the advice which I never found to be wrong or worthless.
Is he dead? For if he is, then I am dead, and we are dead, and all of sense a mockery.
As a boy and as teenager and as college student, How Green Was My Valley was a favorite movie for my mother and me to watch whenever it rotated into view on our ancient 3 station television in the furniture case. It was always, as my father would say, “A real tear-jerker.” He had no patience for it just as he had no patience for his philandering father and would not watch it. It didn’t matter. My mother loved it, especially after her own father died in 1953. I always joined her. And we always cried at the ending. And then college was over and I went off to wherever I thought I was going at the time.
We tried to watch How Green Was My Valley once more than thirty years after my own father died on the table after his third open-heart operation in 1972. Tried. But it was no go. She couldn’t take the emotional blow of the ending. Neither could I. I still can’t. And it gets harder as the years evaporate and the losses accumulate. Still…
How green was my Valley, then, and the Valley of them that have gone.