My grandmother kept her Longines wristwatch in its original box in her top dresser drawer. When we kids saw the watch on her slim wrist, we figured she was either going to the doctor or to visit a certain cousin. She complained doctors didn't see patients when they said they would and this cousin ran at the mouth so much she was going to talk her way out of heaven. Although I don't know about the heaven part, my grandmother was right about the chatty cousin and doctors who overbooked patients (even Back Then).
My mother kept the Longines wristwatch she rarely wore in a glass case on top of her dresser. We kids knew not to touch it, that something awful would happen--perhaps our hands would fall off or some such. Since my mother didn't raise her voice or threaten dire consequences, just said 'Don't touch,' I never quite figured out how it worked that we didn't touch her watch. But we didn't.
My grandmother called her Longines with the diamond chips around the crystal a wristwatch. My mother called her Longeines with slightly bigger diamonds a watch. We kids picked up on the generational nuance and knew when to use each word, not that we did so very often.
None of us kids had a watch. There was little reason to monitor time. School ended when it did, and regardless of the homework, books usually closed at the same time each school night. We'd watched a bit of television, take our baths, and off we'd go to bed. Weekends opened up--Friday night football, water skiing, perhaps a trip to Baton Rouge or the house filled with family and friends (hopefully with kids our ages). But Sunday night meant back to the books to make sure the homework was just right before going to bed.
My grandfather wore his watch when he left the farm for various meetings and the like; my father wore his watch to work during the week but not on weekends. Their watches had big round faces and were the polar opposite of dainty. Neither man had a habit of constantly checking his watch.
I like watches and can't pass a display window without stopping. Not that I want to purchase these watches. There's just something about how jewelers decorate a basic timepiece that appeals. More on the intangible level, I admit to pushing the clock to accomplish goals, something I've given thought to lately.
Actually, a sepia-tone photograph of my grandparents I came across in a box (while looking for something else) triggered these thoughts. My grandparents are sitting on a bench in El Paso, Texas, very nicely dressed in the 1920s fashion of the day, but neither's wearing a watch.
My grandmother used to fuss at me when I got too busy. "What are you rushing to?" she'd ask with a chuckle.
I had no answer for her then and would have no answer now, except to say that this afternoon I heard a bird chirping its heart out and stepped outside to find this feathered Adele. One chirp led to another until I finally spotted a Cardinal at the very top of a still-bare oak tree. I don't know how long I listened to its serenade. I didn't have my watch on. But the memory is forever.