Off North Road : New watch
My son Steve gave me a new watch. He said, "The numbers on your old one are too small for you. You'll always be late." Steve's a thoughtful man. He can do most things around the house and car. I once told him he was much better at those things than I am - can't figure how he developed all those skills. "Well," he replied. "You showed me all the basics when I was a kid." Talk about setting up old dad's confidence. It was a generous thing he said. I need all the confidence I can get now that my eyesight is fading. The macula in the center of my vision field has tired with age and cells are dropping out. The real trouble is that the central part of what I look at has grayed a bit and sometimes quite a lot. A magnifying glass helps some, and a bright light without glare becomes essential.
Well, to get back to the watch, he first told me he had set it up. Whoops! That was a warning there. When I first looked at the watch it read 1000 with a couple more zeros and decimals tagged on. What new kind of galactic time was I to live on now? I discovered tiny buttons around the rim of the large crystal and, sure enough, by pushing the button at about one o'clock, I could erase the zeros and take another look. Now the numerals were quite clear in out-line but they seemed to be carved from ancient cave drawings of prehistoric scholars, perhaps translated from the Arabic. By now I despaired and I called Steve. He told me to go to position seven o'clock, and I could push that button to reset everything. It wasn't quite that simple, but eventually after several pushes at seven, I blurted out the time to Steve over the phone. "Right," he cried. "You've got the exact time my watch reads." Well done, I thought. But then I pushed a button about at one o'clock and it reverted to the 1000.00 o'clock and we had slipped into an asteroid's trail in the next galactic zone. Back to seven and Steve's correct time.
After a couple of hours at this struggle, I had a cramp in my neck from straining at my screen and sitting too close to the light. I began to realize I was fighting mad - the way I had been as a much younger man who worked hard all the time and could last for hours without all this physical and emotional trauma. I was still trying to keep up when I should have been following my wife's good advice to take it easy. You're retired now. Let it go. Read that book you started last year. My new-age watch was helping me keep up with earth's present standard or daylight hours, whichever season was upon us, but I was trying to compete with the machines all around me. That proposition I now find impossible. My time is old time, retired time for looking, watching, meditating, and savoring the wonders of life lived and forgetting the transgressions now long abandoned. "It's OK, really OK now," Mary Ann says. "No need to walk those two miles in an hour. Cut it to a half hour, retire to the air conditioning and lie down for a nap. Have a good night, old boy! Don't rise till the birds are singing your song."
Retirement has been an adventure, one plagued with surprises and grumbling profanities on my part. Now I have worn my new watch with its Velcro strap snuggled up on my wrist where it stays put. My old watch had a life of its own, slipping up toward my elbow or dangling free at my wrist. Mostly it hides its face from me under a sleeve. Older men, who tend to lose weight, often slim down so that their pants slide down over their hips, allowing the cuffs to drag on the ground and become tattered. None of that for me, I say now. The pants go to Francois the tailor who keeps me in trim.
Steve's gift has become huge, not only in itself but I've deciphered the cave drawings, and the Arabic turns out to be common sense, Thanks, Steve. I love you and wish you a ripe old age.