There is no greater symbol of time than a clock, and no clock is more personal than a wristwatch because it is a constant companion. We can become emotionally attached to these ticking tools, thinking of them as witnesses to our lives. Just watch this Pulp Fiction Gold Watch video to see what I mean.
Watches are often purchased or given to commemorate graduations, weddings, anniversaries, retirements, birthdays or other milestones. Sometimes the watches are engraved to help the wearer remember the date. This is kinda like getting a tattoo, but less committed.
There is an opposite and perhaps less common practice of retiring a watch to memorialize an important event. Not including the odd watch breaking, I have retired three watches in my life… and all were because of a death of someone close to me.
The first two happened when I lost both my beloved pet Boston Terriers, Winston Napoleon and Buddy Luv. Their deaths happened several years apart, and I took each of those events hard. Both died in my arms and for some reason, I stopped the watches that I was wearing. It was as if I wanted to stop time and go back just a few minutes before my friends left me. Maybe it was a way to tell myself to “never forget this moment” and sear it into my memory banks. Those watches ended up on their urns…. In what I like to think of as my canine shrine.
The other time I stopped a watch was exactly 2 years ago today when I heard my father had just died. I was at my office when my brother called me to tell me what had just happened. Dan had missed seeing my father by just a few minutes and was quite upset. I was in a bit of a daze myself as I walked to the car. Almost without thinking about it, I pulled the crown on the watch stopping the hands from moving. As I sat in the car pondering things, I slipped the dormant watch off of my wrist and put it on the seat next to me.
Then something peculiar happened. A large black crow landed near my car and started cawing. The timing was an impeccable coincidence that caught me by surprise. The exact same thing happened to me when my grandmother died so I was stuck by the similar occurrence. I had never seen that bird there before or since then. Yeah, strange to say the least.
I am not trying to infer a mystical connection from the afterlife, but I do remember thinking that this would be just like something my Dad would attempt to pull off by getting a spiritual proxy to deliver a message to his son so far away. I like to believe that mystery still exists in the world so why not. If anyone could pull it off, he could. I always felt like he had one foot in the human world and the other in the unexplained natural world.
After making one a hell of a racket, the crow flew away. Then I picked up the watch. Strangely, it was not stopped, but the hands were moving once more. I know that I stopped it. Perhaps I hit the crown taking it off, which would have restarted the watch. But, I like to imagine that my Dad was playing one last trick on me. He had done stuff like this before like switching wedding bands during my first wedding. He was quite the trickster so I would not put anything past him.
I decided that retiring this watch is not what he would have wanted me to do so instead it became a commemorative watch of the moment Charles Hughes, Jr. passed into the spirit world. It was with me as the only witness of the crow during that brief sliver in time and space. I will never get rid of it because it has become more than just a watch to me… And you cannot put a dollar value on that. Wearing it always makes me smile.