Say Your Goodbyes

Fun fact time!

“The Parting Glass” is an old Scottish and Irish song that was traditionally sung at the end of a party, gathering, or regular hootenanny. In fact, it was so popular in Scotland that only “Auld Lang Syne” could trump it. It survives today through traditional Celtic bands and singers like Loreena McKennitt and The Wailin’ Jennys. And, of course, through yours truly.

Here’s the text of the song:

Of all the money e’er I had,
I spent it in good company.
And all the harm e’er I’ve done,
Alas! it was to none but me.
And all I’ve done for want of wit
To mem’ry now I can’t recall
So fill to me the parting glass
Good night and joy be with you all.

If I had money enough to spend,
And leisure time to sit awhile,
There is a fair maid in this town,
That sorely has my heart beguiled.
Her rosy cheeks and ruby lips,
I own she has my heart in thrall,
Then fill to me the parting glass,
Good night and joy be with you all.

Oh, all the comrades e’er I had,
They’re sorry for my going away,
And all the sweethearts e’er I had,
They’d wish me one more day to stay,
But since it falls unto my lot,
That I should rise and you should not,
I gently rise and softly call,
Good night and joy be with you all.

For whatever reason, I am completely besotted with this song. I love the melody, the meaning. (And now that I know the lyrics, I can stop picturing this metaphorical closing glass door when I hear the title.)

But what I think I’m attracted to most about this song is the idea of letting everyone know your intention and how you feel about them. You have to go, but one more glass, one more song will give you the time to say goodbye. None of the “this isn’t goodbye. It’s see you later.” None of the drifting away through unanswered text messages. None of the missed phone calls that get lost in translation, anyway. A goodbye that says if I see you again, that would be great, but if I don’t, joy be with you.

Maybe I have some deep-seated anxiety about people leaving, but the idea of being firm and final with every goodbye actually eases me. “I’ll talk to you later” leaves, literally, so much unsaid. But when you’re forced to say goodbye, you can tell them exactly what you feel and ensure that the person in question knows exactly where you stand. That’s a priceless gift when tomorrow is never promised, when we never know when a goodbye will be our last.

So, say goodbye whenever you leave and actually mean it. (You don’t have to sing “The Parting Glass,” but it would be nice if you are in my presence.) Just never leave people hanging on a word that won’t come. Say goodbye as if you will never see them again, and hope against hope, that someday, you will.

2 thoughts on “Say Your Goodbyes

  1. Bailey, this song was played at my grandmother’s funeral. She was a true “Irishman” and this was her request to say goodbye when she physically was not able to do so.

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