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Saturday, November 19, 2011

What Time Is It?

I refused to wear a wristwatch when I was young. I had a delicate gold watch I kept in a drawer. It was my token way of being a free spirit. Let my department heads look at their watches and narrow their eyes when I arrived several minutes late for work. It seemed enough that so much of my life was gobbled by dead-end office jobs, I didn't have to be punctual about it. My watchlessness was inconvenient when meeting friends or keeping appointments. I had to keep checking store clocks or asking passersby the time but not wearing a watch was something I could do, like not eating meat, something that made me feel good. I kept only one clock in my studio apartment. I found even beautiful clocks noisy and intrusive. Knowing the time didn't really change a thing, especially time itself. I was indifferent to time in a way only those in their twenties can be.

My elderly mother-in-law frequently asked "Que hora es?" I wonder if she thought knowing the time might extend it. "Where did the time go?" People say this as if time is on holiday at some far away resort. "Time heals all wounds" is another favorite saying. I'm not so sure about this one, especially if I check with our war veterans. We are supposed to behave "appropriately" for our age. I remember the eighty-five year old nun who was outraged because the police refused to put her in jail with the other protestors during a political demonstration. Clearly, she hadn't received the memo about afghans and tea only. Personal courage is not age-sensitive.

There is a story about my grandmother Anna Langan Brautigan. Ill for a very long time, she wanted to attend a wedding celebration. She asked her doctor if doing so would be all right and he advised against it but she attended the wedding and reception anyway. She died later that evening and, according to my cousin's account, the living room clock stopped when my grandmother died. I believe Time would honor my gentle grandmother in this way and I like believing she had a wonderful day before her final night.

I stiIl don't wear a watch but I'm no longer indifferent to the passage of time. I wonder when I got so gray and when my hands stopped looking young. This morning, the view of the river seems more calming than usual. The coffee, a special blend my husband Victor puts together, tastes so good. My crazy little dog is plopped beside me. There is music in another room and I know exactly what time it is -- time to give thanks.  Happy Thanksgiving!