Watch can measure minutes, but not life’s moments

Published 8:17 pm Saturday, February 7, 2009

The roar of the Youghiogheny River was so loud that my 13-year-old son didn’t hear his daddy calling to him. At least, he didn’t let on that he heard.

He just kept sitting on a huge boulder in the middle of the churning waters, gazing off into the distance, either deep in thought or in awe of the beauty of the place.

The slippery, rock path out to him was a little too treacherous for his dad, so he gave up.

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I breathed a sign of relief.

See. I had learned in my days of young motherhood that there are times that should be left to linger.

Times that are so special that we don’t need to disturb them.

The lesson was not easily learned.

It seemed that we were always in a rush to get from where we were to somewhere else.

I had to learn to live in the moment because those moments were precious. They would never be again.

There might never be another time when my children were content to let minnows nibble at their toes, climb to the tallest reaches of a tree, chase butterflies or make mud pies.

Those were special times. Other things could wait.

Not living our lives on the clock was a lesson that I learned well, too well.

I began to run on my own time, which usually made me run late, according to the time of the rest of the world.

Anyone who knows me knows that.

“You’ll be late for your own funeral,” everyone tells me.

Not to disappoint anyone, I’ve told several of my friends that if I go before they do, ride me around the block on the hearse a couple of times to make sure I arrive late for my own funeral. That should be good for a laugh.

Daddy once asked me, a young mother of three, what I wanted for Christmas.

“Daddy, I think that I’d like a Timex watch.”

“When has it ever mattered to you what time it is?” Daddy asked.

I didn’t get the Timex.

I told that story to Carmen Deedy when she was in town for the storytelling festival last weekend.

She was going to perform at Troy Elementary School at 1 o’clock and I was to pick her up at 12:30 but she called to say she didn’t want to arrive until right at time.

“If I arrive early, I get distracted,” she said.

“Well, I would have been late anyway,” I said and we laughed.

Later, we were talking about “time management” and I told her about asking Daddy for the watch.

Before she left, she had a surprise for me. A watch!

Just the kind I need. One with real numbers and hands that point to the numbers and a hand that tics off the seconds.

Now, I haven’t worn a watch in a month on Sundays so didn’t know how I was going to adjust to a “time piece.”

My first test came Sunday when Bannie, Mernie and I picked up storyteller Kathryn Windham at the Hampton Inn to take her back to Selma. I kept a close watch on the time all the way.

Time to get on the road. Time to eat. Time to stop eating. Time to get on the road again. Time to do this. Time to do that.

We got to Selma and were having a good time visiting when I looked at my watch.

“Oh, we’ve gotta go. I didn’t know it was this late. I need to get home.”

My friends had had enough.

“Take off that watch! You’re driving us crazy!”

I took off the watch and five hours or more later we got home. We stayed a while longer in Selma, stopped in Montgomery for supper and sat around the table talking.

Nobody worried about the time and I’m not sure exactly what time it was when we got home.

I like my watch, though. It keeps good time.

But I’m making sure that it’s only a measure of minutes, not a ticking device that robs me of those special moments in time — those moments that need to linger long and to be remembered always.

Jaine Treadwell can be reached at