Thursday, March 3, 2011

I Wore My Father's Watch


I Wore My Father’s Watch

I wore my father’s watch to London. A bit too big for my wrist, I wear it since his death three years ago, carrying a little bit of who he was along with me through the poetry and prose of my days. For years it rested on the wrist of a man most at home midst the trees of his own back garden, a man for whom the city of London was as far away as the moon. Daddy always told me, usually after swallowing hard, that I could do anything I put my mind to. And I believed him. So as I embarked on a solo trip to my favourite city, I wore his watch and took him with me. Grabbing taxis, boarding trains, sitting in cafes by the window, having tea... watching, noticing, soaking up inspiration like a tulip in the rain.
I wore his watch up Regent Street where, standing in the doorway of Hamley’s, that mammoth cathedral of toys, there was a man dressed in 16th century garb, blowing bubbles. Shiny and ephemeral, they floated for a moment in the early afternoon sun before meeting their inevitable demise in the chubby grasp of a passing toddler’s hand. But as I strolled by, one followed me. Unnoticed by the jostling crowds on the pavement, it sailed on the current of the misty air, floating happily just above my right shoulder, as if to whisper a secret to me alone. I think I caught it’s message just before it veered through the doorway of Jaeger..... “pay attention, pay attention”.
I was wearing his watch as I stopped to speak to an elderly man sitting on a bench outside the magnificent art-lined halls of The Wallace Collection. At his feet sat a rather anxious terrier - small, shivering. Asking if perhaps I could pet her he tells me he is only dog-sitting for a friend and warns me that “the little gal tends to be snappish”. Undeterred, I bend to let her sniff my hand. She waddles over immediately and settles at my feet. As I rub her ears, the old gentlemen smiles and declares that I “have the knack”. We talk about dogs and art. He tells me he is writing a book of his experiences in WWII. “For my children and grand-children”, he shyly says. I tell him it will be a treasure to them all. Daddy’s watch glistens in the sun as I wave goodbye.
I wore his watch through the cold and shadowed rooms of Hampton Court, a place where the veil between what is and what was is threadbare. I sat in the silence of The Chapel Royal, listening for echoes, strange snippets of song gathering in the corners, lingering beneath the blue. Alone in the gardens, I stood underneath the ancient trees and bent down to pick up one small black stone, worn shiny and smooth by time. If I held it to my ear, could the voices still be heard - a bit of infinity trapped in the stone? I place it in the pocket of my coat, just in case.
Through the Food Halls of Harrods to the Tudor grandeur of Liberty.
Hours spent in the stacks at John Sandoe Books and up and down the stairs at Hatchard’s.
A stroll down Birdcage Walk in St. James Park just as a feeble February sun dipped down below the Buckingham towers.
I wore it as I quietly stood in front of the famous Dutch sunflowers.
As I marveled at the colours of the drowning Ophelia.
As I watched the waters of the Thames lap gently against the Embankment.
From the opulence of Belgrave Square to the cobblestones of Spittalfields, I wore my father’s watch.
I paid close attention.
And we had a ball.

Photo above: Birdcage Walk, St. James Park, London

51 comments:

  1. Sounds like a great adventure. Did the small stone whisper to you after all?

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  2. I loved my daddy too. He has been gone eleven years this past February.

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  3. Pamela - I'm a new follower of your lovely blog and I had to let you know how lovely I find your writing. This post about your dear father was beautiful. I look forward with much pleasure to your future adventures (and photos of your sweet Edward!)

    Teresa

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  4. That was a very lovely post. A very beautiful way to think about your father...

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  5. Your post was the last thing I read after a long day, you made me thoughtful.
    My relationship to my father is tough and not an easy one but I began thinking of what I might have of him, once he will be gone. I am not sure, but I loved the way you simply took him along!
    I will think about it before falling asleep...
    Now your thoughts become the stone in my pocket!
    Whispering!
    Thank you and good night!

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  6. I strongly believe your Father was with you in more ways than just his watch.

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  7. Ahhh a Daddy's girl! I identify & tho I have no working watch to mark the time, he is with me. He was the BEST. The man that all have been measured by. Your post tugged at my heartstrings tonight.

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  8. Lovely post .... it just made realise that my father never owned or wore a watch. He was a farmer and so closely connected to nature that he always just knew the time! Leigh

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  9. I wish we had met Pamela....next time.....

    London is a wonderful city and you and your father's watch managed the highlights...How enchanting that you wore his watch and took him with you on your adventure. I love your thinking....xv

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  10. Lyrical and sweet. What did Faulkner say ? " Only when the clock stops does time come to life ".

    Strange how we think about fathers. So many unanswered, and now unanswerable questions. Guess that's why I speak to the cost centres at Stanford and Yale and Princeton every day. For them there'll still be unanswered questions. But fewer of them.

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  11. Hello Pamela

    Lovely post--thank you for sharing a part of your faher with us.

    Best
    Tracy :)

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  12. Pamela, such a sweet post and it is nice to be able to keep your Dad's timepiece with you as a constant memory of him.

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  13. Beautiful. What an adventure. x

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  14. A lovely tour of your day in London and a sweet tribute to your dad. I lost my mom to cancer 5 years ago, and I love using anything that was hers. This morning I used her sewing ruler . . . and it always gives me a little thrill. I am sorry for your loss.

    Fondly,
    Glenda

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  15. This is absolutely beautiful. I wear my grandmothers charm bracelet almost every day of my life. She has been away from me some 30 years now but I feel her close when I have her bracelet on. Thank you so much....

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  16. Such a lovely tribute to your father, Pamela, to wear his watch and to listen, listen - and then to write your words so eloquently here.

    My Daddy will be gone 42 years next month. I still miss him and I still carry him with me in oh-so-many ways. A really good thing to do. Peace.

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  17. I do like the idea of taking the watch as a companion on your holiday Pamela - lovely idea.##I adore the painting of Ophelia - one of my favourites too.

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  18. Dear Pamela, What a beautifully written tribute to your father and, so cleverly entwined, your recent visit to London. Trips whether short or long distance made alone do require a personal resolve which can be strengthened with a familiar memento [such as your father's watch] close by. I am sure that you had a wonderful time and already I have read with interest about your chosen venues....I look forward to hearing more!

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  19. Pamela, I think this is my favorite writing of yours... ever. This should be published.
    xo isa

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  20. This touches me deeply, Pamela, and thank you for capturing and expressing the feelings so beautifully...as if I were in your shoes..

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  21. Gorgeous post! Keep those whispers close!

    Dianna

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  22. Ah....my Mom wears my father's watch. It makes her feel closer to him. What a beautiful post.

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  23. Pamela, I devoured this tribute to your Dad - what an awe inspiring bit of writing. I felt as if I was right there in London while I was reading it. So well done. Thank you. Hugs for Edward.

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  24. A very lovely post, my father died when I was 3yrs so I never knew him, and have no memories...you are lucky, and I'm so pleased for you that you have yours xxxxx
    Hugs Lynn xxxx

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  25. What a touching, poignant post, Pamela. I'm sure your father's spirit was right there with you at every stop in London. Extraordinary.

    I carry my father's pocket knife with me at all times. You might find the story of why I do interesting: http://fiveplaces.blogspot.com/2011/01/blizzard-babyfilled-with-sunshine.html

    Thanks for sharing such a tender telling with us.

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  26. Beautiful Pamela...I love the journey your father's watch took you on. Sounds like he was with you in spirit every step of the way :)

    Guess what I have....yes, in my bedside table, my father's watch, which is too big..but now, I am thinking, it is time. I will take it out tonight, before I go to sleep, slide it on and think of the places we will go...Oh, the places we will go :)

    Thank you!

    Jeanne xxx

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  27. Yours must be the one blog it is impossible to read diagonally Pamela, you just get us at the first line and we read on mesmerised, hanging onto each word.
    Yours sweet tale brought tears to my eyes.
    Sharon

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  28. Lovely, poignant post, Pamela. I sometimes wear my father's blackstone ring in which is embedded my mother's engagement diamond It keeps them close.

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  29. Oh Pamela... I am so sorry for the loss of this wonderful man in your life. There is nothing like a daddy, is there?

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  30. What a joy it is to read your writing...thank you...

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  31. "the veil of what is and what was is threadbare"

    pamela that single line your wrote spoke to my soul. as i too am in england i stare at the smallest details and imagine all the souls that have been here before me.

    what a beautiful and no doubt comforting, gesture, no doubt your father is smiling as he looks down and journeys with you
    cheers

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  32. Beautiful beautiful word-pictures, I love your wondrous writing and descriptions....just magical!!

    I believe your Dad would have been smiling alongside of you all the way. My Dad died over 38 years ago now yet it seems like only yesterday. Alas I don't have his watch..my brother has that, but I do have his signet ring and it fits me. Our hands were very similar and although a tall man he had very long slim fingers.

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  33. I'm lucky to have both of my maternal grandmothers' and my mothers' wedding bands. They all are unadorned, worn, thin bands of gold that sometimes I wear just to take 'the ladies' out with me.
    I find it poignant that I have their rings...I wear very little jewellry (just not my thing) and my hands are not my most attractive feature, so the rings make me feel more custodian than bejeweled.

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  34. Dear Pamela,

    This is a hauntingly lovely post.My heart listened to it at least as attentively as my mind. Thank you for sharing it, for sharing your trip, and little of your very dear Father with us.

    I feel my Father is with me at times... In May, he will be gone 2 years. At times tears will threaten, but I must just smile and blow a kiss.

    Blessings to you

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  35. Pamela, such a touching and beautifully written post, Pamela. As always, your words are such poetry, deeply thought and felt. So wonderful that you took a part of your dad with you to London. I'm sure he was there with you in sweet spirit.

    Blessings,
    Paula

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  36. Your words are just what I need to make me feel better Pamela and thanks for calling by today. I love the idea of you wearing your father's watch, I am sure he was with you every step of the way.

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  37. Pamela,
    Oh so beautiful and memorable a post. The tribute to your father by wearing his watch is very poignant.

    Do come and enter my Artful Offering!

    xoxo
    Karena
    Art by Karena

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  38. Damn, you always make me cry. I wear my father's shirts when I paint. They're gigantic, smocklike and perfect for doing our shared activity.

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  39. Dear Pamela, another beautiful post. How lovely that you wore your dad's watch and took a piece of him with you on your travels.

    I'm delighted you went to all those places - I can't wait to hear and see more xx

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  40. Bob (yes, he enjoyed this wonderful post too!) and I were enthralled by these words you shared about your late father, We lost ours long ago but hold beautiful memories of them in our hearts. When they met in person, after I was able to get my mother to literally drag him onto a plane to fly to Boston to visit with us in the sixties, they got along so well. What a marvelous time that was.

    Your London story is fabulous, so glad you saw places many tourists miss................makes me want another week there, perhaps alone also, doing/seeing just the things I love.

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  41. Oh to be in London! I was last there in 2007 and so much want to go back.
    A beautiful post, and such a nice tribute your father.

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  42. I am so pleased that you found your way to my favourite bookshop!

    We carry our loved ones with us always, love does not die.

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  43. Sigh....
    Lovely lovely lovely.

    My father had the same words of
    of advice for me!

    Such a marvelous time you are having on your adventure, and I am so enjoying being there with you!!

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  44. beautiful Pamela...too bad you missed jackie...you and she would probably hit it off wonderfully. A lovely love poem to your father...cheers.

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  45. I think it's lovely that you wore his watch. I hope you had a super time here- I could have met you for a cup of tea! maybe next time

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  46. My daddy has been gone almost 4 years - this July 18th will mark the day - and I still miss him. I was "his girl".

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  47. What a lovely post. I cherish every day that I have with my daddy. I can't even imagine life without him.

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  48. How wonderful that you took your father's watch with you and had that connection with him as you went exploring. Love the image of that small stylish bubble whispering to you before it floated into Jaeger - as only the finest of bubbles are wont to do. :)

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