Thanks once again to blogger pal Doug Hagin over at The Daley Gator for the linkback and the kudos!
When I was a little tad, one of the major figures in my young life was my maternal grandfather. Grandpa Baty stood as a giant in my young world. He was a farmer and a carpenter, a dedicated fisherman and keen observer of the outdoor world. He was a man of another era, born in 1898, a young man during the first World War, the father of an expanding family during the Depression, a man with two sons and a son in law serving overseas in the Second.
Every morning of his adult life he rose, washed, shaved with a straight razor – when I was little I thought that was the coolest thing ever – and donned his Key Imperial hickory overalls to face the day. In the bib pocket of those overalls he put his watch, an old Westclox Pocket Ben that he bought sometime during the Depression for the princely sum of three dollars. The watch had a fob of knotted string that Grandpa had made himself. One of my earliest memories of my grandfather was of sitting in his lap at the kitchen table, hearing that watch ticking loudly in his bib pocket.
Last spring, when my Dad passed away, my mother and sisters spent several days packing up stuff from Mom & Dad’s house, as Mom wasn’t going to be able to stay there alone.
Part of that process was deciding which family heirlooms would go to which of us five kids. I’m not much for stuff, but it had been a long-understood thing that I was to one day get my Grandpa’s watch. For the many years since Grandpa died my Mom had kept it; it was her Daddy’s watch, after all. But during this transition, Mom decided it was time to pass the watch on. So I have it now. For Christmas this year, my own dear Mrs. Animal gave me a beautiful walnut and brass stand to display the watch:
It’s an old, outdated, cheap wind-up pocket watch with a knotted string fob, eighty or more years old. If you wind it it only runs for an hour or so. The crystal is cracked and missing a piece; the radium-painted hands no longer glow. No pawnbroker would give you a penny for it.
It was my Grandpa’s watch. Bill Gates couldn’t buy it from me. Once in a while I take it off the stand, wind it up some, close my eyes and for a few moments just listen to that old watch ticking…
…and for a little while, I’m a little boy again, hanging out with my Grandpa.
Some things are beyond price.