My father and I aren’t close. We don’t call on birthdays and he didn’t walk me down the aisle. When he developed dementia a few years ago, our estrangement ended, though merely out of reticent duty rather than the hallmark reunion I had fantasized about.
Regrettably, it appeared that my ailing father was not infallible. After selling off the lion’s share of his estate to accommodate his medical needs, my siblings and I were confronted with a small smattering of trinkets with which to remember him by, including a watch collection.
And oddly enough, that became the conduit for absolution.
My father always enjoyed beautiful things. I remember extravagant shopping trips in Europe, where he’d be fitted for more bespoke suiting than any man could wear. He had drawers full of ties and once made my brother polish all 150 pairs of his shoes for pocket money. The man strapped my booster seat into his Maserati for crying out loud, which I consequently dubbed the boom boom car. There were always a lot of fancy, ephemeral things between him and I, but now only the watches remained.
A gold dress watch spoke to me in particular. My parents’ wedding anniversary had fallen on New Year’s Eve and I remember him retrieving it from the safe each year to pair with his tux. This inaugural pilgrimage to some glamorous fete shone brightly amongst the bleakness of those years. It looked like fun and frivolity through my excitable childhood eyes. The fetching of that watch began to signify the hopes that maybe this year might be a fresh start.
And whilst my naïveté may have evaporated somewhat, my fascination with the timepiece has only grown. A 1973 Omega, it feels like a vestige of another lifetime. It’s gaudy and garish, a perfect reminder of the elegant degenerate who once wore it. I delight in winding it up, securing the clasp and listening to its reassuring tick. People often comment on its presence on my girlish wrists. “That’s an unusual piece,” they say, to which I reply, “It was my Dad’s.”
No, his memory does not evoke a flood of jubilant memories, nor does it move me to tears. But the man who will soon fail to remember his own name shall not be entirely forgotten. I wear him on my wrist every day. And I hope he knows that there are no hard feelings and that we can both be at peace now.