ON MY DESK: MY MOTHER’S WATCH

A weekly post in which I describe one of the items on my writing desk.

sekonda

My Mother’s Watch

Why are the watches of the people we love so hard to get rid of? This one doesn’t even work anymore. It’s an old Sekonda – 17 Jewels.  On the back of it is the following sequence of numbers: 658832. On either side of the number 6 you can just see the letters USSR. My mother bought it one year at an airport – I’ve forgotten which one and where she was flying to. She’d left the one she usually wore at home. She used to wear watches that were quite delicate but this one isn’t. It’s a man’s watch. I suppose she bought it because she was in a hurry and it was cheap. But she took to it and she was wearing it around the time that she died.

It’s a wind up. She didn’t like battery driven watches and neither do I. I wore it for a long time after she died and each day when I wound it up I would think of her. It had a tendency to lose 5 minutes within any 24 hour period. I liked that as well. As if there was something mischievous about it, something not altogether reliable. My mother sending me messages from the after life.

Then I went on a boat trip to Grassholm, an island off the Pembrokeshire coast, to look at gannets and guillemots. On the way back a storm blew up and I got soaked to the skin. The watch stopped. I took it to a repairer who lost it. When he found it again he said that the mechanism had rusted and nothing could be done. He’d lost it for such a long time I’m not surprised it had rusted. But I also wondered if he just couldn’t be bothered.

Occasionally, I fantasize about finding a wonderful watch repairer who will be able to get it working again. It’s not worth anything but my mother wore it on her wrist for many years. Then I wore it on mine. I’d like to be able to wear it again. Maybe that will never happen but in the meantime I have the pleasure of its generous open face.

There is a particular poignancy to the things that the people we have loved have worn close to their skin.

I don’t think I will ever be able to throw it away.

So here it sits, on my desk.

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12 thoughts on “ON MY DESK: MY MOTHER’S WATCH

  1. A very moving post, Victoria – and I can sympathise entirely as my jewellery box contains three (non-working) watches from two grandmothers and my mother, all long gone and much missed. I would never in a million years get rid of those watches.

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    • Thanks Susan. They are very difficult to let go of, aren’t they? My mother actually used to have quite a strange effect on watches. We used to say it was because of her magnetic personality! I loved the fact that this watch was always off by 5 minutes.

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  2. Just been dealing with my late aunt’s effects and I had no problem disposing of shoes but like you can’t bring myself to be rid of the watches. I took my grandad’s fob watch to the poppies at the Tower – he was a WWI veteran – and photographed it in my hand dangling in front of them.

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    • Ah yes, I did have my first watch for quite a long time. But have no idea where that is now. I remember thinking how tiny it seemed. I actually wear dad’s watch which is an old Tissot. Rather endearingly it says ‘Camping’ and then ‘Waterproof’ under it’s name. Camping! Now that’s not anything Dad did as far as I am aware!

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  3. How lovely to have such an evocative piece on your desk.
    It is something to do with time isn’t it? Also, there are not many objects that a lost loved one would have worn everyday.
    My father collected clocks and the house was full of them. Midnight was quite a concert. Every Sunday he would spend a good few hours winding them all up. I now have some of them and their ticking brings me comfort and happy memories.

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    • How lovely. It’s definitely to do with time and way time can sort of stop when we’re grieving and yet it never does stop even if the clock stops ticking. How lovely to have some of those clocks. In Oxford of course you could never get away from the bells, so it was all the quarters as well as the main chimes. Sometimes I wonder how I ever got any sleep at all as a child!

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