Sometimes a certain object holds an almost totemic power over memory. Memories fuzzy and vague symbolized only by a single object and the feelings evoked. Memories of emotion. I got a new watch in the mail today. A cheap Timex Camper. A classic watch. The nylon strap. Hard plastic case. Glow in the dark hands. Basic, simple, timeless.
I remember my father wearing this watch. I remember hikes and mountain trails. Canoe trips and bicycle rides. Father/son adventures. Days stretched out ahead of you like endless horizons. All the time in the world. Campfire hatchets and LL Bean rubber bottom boots. Torn Levi’s and Woolrich shirts. All the material things that make up an image of a man who could do no wrong and knew all the right answers and the words to all the good songs.
My father’s old Timex Camper. It sat on his wrist everywhere we went. It was the watch he’d put on my wrist for me when he’d let me run off alone but wanted me to find my way back again in time for food over the fire. That same too big band slipping and sliding over the skinny arms of a scrawny scrambling kid.
Even now after all the years between and the realizations of fallibility and humanity in the myth of a man,
Even now after the years of drinking and the fights and the lost moments mired in regrets and anger,
Even now I think of those times wearing his watch…
of finding my way back to the warmth of the fire and the beans and bread by my father’s side.
I love him like a son should.
My dad came to visit recently and immediately went in to emergency room with chest pains. This follows years of heart attacks and bad lungs and knee surgeries and bad diets and cigarettes and poor diet and too much booze and is really just one more weak link in his chain of failing health.
I know what it all means.
Today I got my new watch in the mail.
A $20 Timex Camper.
All the time in the world stretched out across it’s face.
Anyone else wishing they had more time?