Sunday, June 21, 2015

The Gold Watch

On father’s day, one remembers what made the man who brought you into life. Looking through old pictures and genealogy tells you some things but you really didn’t know that man. You spent all your growing up days with this guy, but he was ‘dad’ and he was there to provide shelter, food, transportation, and always had an extra $5 in his pocket for you.
Dads are different to boys than girls. I didn’t have any sisters, but I’ve heard they were ‘daddy’s girls’, so when I was dating I avoided her dad.
Now boys are suppose to follow in our father’s footsteps. Not only were dads to make sure you got off to school on time and instructed you on how to stand as a man to pee, but they are also required to hand down their skills and wisdom. It is in the dad’s contract.
This hand-me-down task comes from fathers to sons. The father passes on the skills of hunting, fishing, working on cars and woodworking while handing over tools and techniques to the next generation. It is a rite of passage growing up.
Dads don’t talk about old girlfriends or late night drunks or encounters with the law. They don’t talk about career failures or questionable decisions, but attempt to point the sired children to a more positive path. And it is acceptable for him to nod off in church, because he made sure you put on your coat and tie and arrived on time.
My dad was 43 when I was born. We were generations apart but he let me be who I wanted to be. When he died, I had to deal with much of the remains.
There were ties given to him years before on Father’s Day, now old and wrinkled with food stains, suits ten years out of style, bottles of Old Spice (his favorite) aftershave never opened, Christmas lights he’d string on the magnolia tree out back every year, and even that gigantic yellow convertible with the torn top he must have bought on a whim because he was much more practical than that. His funeral was back in his hometown with lots of old folk sitting around talking about him from before I was born. I should have taken notes because I really didn’t know the man.
One of the few personal items I found was a gold watch. It appeared to be a watch passed down to him from his dad and maybe before that. Stuffed in the back of an underwear drawer; a gold pocket watch with a pop up lid and a chain with a fob on it. I never saw my dad wear this watch, but he kept it safe to pass down to his first-born, like the family bible.
The heir of the family name (and his father’s name) has the gold watch to pass down to his son. And that is what dads are for.
Painting of gold watch by Hall Groat II

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