It feels like just yesterday I was hanging out and laughing with my grandfather. This was my mom’s father who moved out to Arizona not too long after we moved there. He wanted to be close to his daughter and spend his remaining life somewhere warm. Coincidentally, I moved back to Arizona after college and became really close with him. My brother and I called him Zayde which is Yiddish for grandfather.
My Zayde was the craziest man I knew but in a good way. He was one of those men who was stubborn but could make you laugh on a dime. Zayde enjoyed life to the fullest and was never short of advice. He also invented crazy ideas to entertain us as children. Before moving to Arizona he lived in Maryland very close to Washington DC. When he came to visit us in Minnesota, we eagerly waited for his arrival like sons awaiting the return of their dad from the war overseas.
To this day I remember partaking in what he called recess. Ok, we weren’t really partaking. It was compulsory, a term he loved to use. This was especially true when talking about the necessary consumption of healthy foods like salad. Considering how fun it was, we were happy to oblige. So recess seems like a very typical idea, at least to a kid, but his idea of recess was totally different. He would put us to bed and say goodnight as if it was the last time we would see him until the next day’s sun rose. Well not so in his case. Just when we were about to fall asleep, he would run through the house banging a wooden spoon against a kitchen pot like a crazed monkey in a zoo. He would be yelling with excitement… “Recess! Recess!… Recess!” And we would follow his parade, running, and laughing in what seemed like almost the middle of the night, and what felt like a very long time. We would be huffing and puffing with exhaustion by the conclusion of this ritual. At the time it seemed like silly, useless fun, but when I think about it now I am sure he had some crazy idea that this would help get all the extra energy out of us to help us fall asleep.
Of course, a crazy grandfather has to have crazy grandchildren. In fact, he thought our whole family was crazy. Crazy to the point of the phrase he invented. In his eyes we were not people as they were way too dull for us. He used to say… “We have more fun than people.” It’s a phrase I remember to this day and will never forget.
Well just like all grandparents, he lived until his time was done. Although he always seemed, as Robert Frost would say, to take the road less traveled by. In my life, he certainly made all the difference. About a month after he passed away, I remember sitting in his vacant Scottsdale condo, each of us deciding what we wanted of his final possessions. What did we cherish and want to keep and what should we give away. At the time, I would have loved to have his relatively new Omega watch. Watches and other jewelry seemed like good mementos to foster great memories. I ended up yielding the watch to my brother since he didn’t wear rings at the time and I did. So I took my grandfather’s wedding ring, which I wear to this day, and my brother took the Omega watch. As what I thought was a consolation prize at the time, I took his older Omega. It was a watch that felt ancient to me although it was probably built and bought sometime in the 1960s. It had a slightly faded glass face, silver stretchy linked band, and an old wind up dial.
For years I had my Zayde’s old Seamaster 600 Omega watch. It was tucked away in the bottom of a dresser drawer, a vampire that wouldn’t dare see the light of day. One day, only a few short years ago, I took out that watch. It was always too big for my skimpy wrist so I never thought to wear it despite my love of wrist watches. Going outside without a watch, to me, was like leaving the house naked.
So I finally decided to get this dirty but memorable time piece spiffed up and re-sized for my wrist. The band was so old that the watch doctor had to create a tool just to remove the six rivets that were holding each rung in place. I can’t tell you the excitement and awe I felt when I had that watch snug comfortably around my wrist. The watch was hugging me like a toddler hugs his blankie. While I only wear the watch periodically, it means the world to me. From this point forward, I always left it lying out proudly on the top of my dresser.
Like any winding watch, it must be revved up on a regular basis like a car needs gas. At first, I would just wind it periodically or before I wore it out on the town. After all, what’s the point of wearing a watch if you can’t tell the time?
Then I got to thinking, what does winding this watch really mean to me? What does it represent? To me it represents the fragility of life and all the sweet memories I have of my Zayde. My grandfather is long gone now yet the watch still remains. I only wear it periodically, to this day, but I wind it almost habitually. I wind it when I wake up in the morning and I wind it before I go to bed at night. It’s like my emotional coffee in the morning, and my mental meditation in the evening. Every time I do, I am reminded about the short time we have on this earth. I am reminded about the importance of living life to the fullest. While there are days I struggle to live up to this watch winding, for that short moment (that the winding occurs) it’s a strong reminder. I do my best these days to wind it every day and night. There will be periodic times where I forget to wind it and I feel sad when I realize it. The watch, for those suspended moments, missed a chance to keep track of the dwindling sands of time.
The old sweet Omega existed before I was born, and will remain after I die. It’s a masterful time piece that I one day hope to give to one of my grandchildren, assuming my daughters have some. So this is the importance of watch winding. While you may not have a winding watch, or a crazy grandfather, I am sure you have something to remind you about the importance of the old Carpe Diem. Whatever it is, do it! Just do it! And do it frequently. Because one day you may look back and realize that this habitual winding was the secret potion for the accomplishment of your dreams.
As always, Smile Big and Dream Bigger!