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time conceptI was determined to find the scarf that went with my dress – overlong, black, red, blue swirly. I was in a rush. To get to the office on time, I need to leave around 6:30am and I was pushing it. Digging feverishly, I found a box of old, broken jewelry. The “someday I’ll get it fixed” box. You probably have one just like it.

Instead of the scarf, I found two of my father’s old watches. They were the watches of a working man: Both Timex, with flexible steel bands and plain white faces. I was enchanted by their vintage appeal. In the whim of the moment, I abandoned my scarf search and slipped the two watches on my left arm instead. Left the house without a moment to spare.

As I wore them that day, and the next, and the next, I discovered what I thought was a fun interpretation of a silver bracelet, became for others, a fascination.

“You are wearing two watches.” (A sheepish nod.)

“Are they set to NY and LA time” (No, but a cool idea.)

And then the ultimate realization.

“But they are broken.” (I know.)

Like many of us whose mobile phone and its large time stamp is never out of reach, I’ve abandoned wearing a watch.

The fact that my dad’s watches no longer functioned was a non issue for me. But for others, it was a point of total confusion.

Men, especially, were solicitous.

“I am sure you can get them working again…” (Love a nice guy.)

The issues raised, I began to realize, weren’t about my watches. They were about time itself.

I wanted to wonder what my dad was doing when the watches stopped working but realized that was a total sentimental indulgence. My tough dad could get mushy over childhood memories, the Yankees, and the movies. Time, however, was more than the air around him. It was something to be managed into submission. He became the consummate – sometimes embarrassing—early arriver. Mass started at 4 – he was in the pew at 3:30. Your party started at 2pm; he was there at 1 sprawled out in the living room. A shift that started at 7am translated into coffee and a roll in the break room at 6:15am.

Time is a universal consideration. We wonder when it will be “the right time.” When someone passes, there is often heard the resigned “It was her time.” We are cautioned to “take the time you need.” For my dad, it was never too soon to do the next thing you wanted to do; to be with the people you wanted to be with.

When I place these watches on my arm now, I think about how to utilize my time well that day. Call that friend. Take that exercise class. Make that first move. Show up early. Someday I won’t have the time I do now and like my dad, I refuse to let it slip away.

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Why I Wear My Father’s Two Broken Watches was last modified: by