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The Passing of Time

by Will Kearvell about a month ago in grandparents
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Time spent well is never lost

Valiant by nature

My grandfather was an honest man. He spun words into dreams and old watches into gold. He never did own much other than the stories that he told. Yet, stories to a young boy, were worth more than the time he sold.

Time itself seemed not to matter much to him, the watchmaker. He moved with consummate ease, and spoke without haste. He listened and sang. He gave without receiving and everything attached to him were as much a part of him as the weathered skin on his bones. His old hands were calloused, but his voice smooth as if making up for his rough hands. He worked both to great effect, using them intermittently and never much at the same time. When he worked, he worked, and when he felt need to speak, he spoke. Then, it was the others’ turn to listen.

He told his stories. Stories that he had lived and some he hadn’t. It was up to the listener to decide which of them was true. But he never told a lie. He taught me about the sun and the moon, and the water and the sky. I saw myself in his reflection, and the world through his eyes. I saw more clearly then, than I do now. The meaning in our ways, the beauty in the mundane, the solace in an old man’s face.

I was twelve years old when my grandfather passed. My grandfather who sold time. He saw clearly all the simple things, and gazed hard into all he did not. My grandfather was an honest man but the biggest dreamer of the lot.

He met my grandmother in the spring of 1930, the week after Phar Lap had charged his way to the Melbourne Cup. He wasn’t at the race, but he’d put 5 bob on the nose, which was next to all he had. Today’s fifty cents was my grandfather’s then fortune, and when Phar Lap came tearing down the straight through his old wireless, he thanked lady luck and vowed never to miss another church Sunday. In one afternoon, a horse had managed to lift him from the Great Depression and save him from a godlessness. The following Sunday, he went to church, true to his vow. It was here he met my grandmother, and he had reason to thank the king of horses once again. I recall my grandmother saying he’d even shed a tear and visited the racetrack upon hearing of the wonder horse’s death some two years later. I don’t recall my grandfather telling that story, but often the stories he didn’t tell were the ones that told the most about him.

In the years following, he left his job at the old flour mill, and learned the craft of watchmaking, of slowing down time and shifting hands. For some reason, I’d never thought of his craft as something he’d acquired. More so, I thought of it as something he’d been born with, a practice instilled within his youthful soul. He controlled time, and as much as it tried to control him, it could not. He gambled with time, and he lived his life in the black, just out of its reach.

I was twelve years old when my grandfather passed. My grandfather who sold time. He saw clearly all the simple things, and gazed hard into all he did not. My grandfather was an honest man but the biggest dreamer of the lot.

The days of travelling on the road, selling his trade and wielding his words grew thin. Markets became ‘the market’ and people became more distant than the places he had travelled to. In his words, ‘the closest people he spoke to were the ones furthest away’. Society became less social and dreams were for the night. My grandfather saw the world, and then he saw the way of the world, which were two separate things he said. He settled his Chrysler Valiant down in the garage of his country home, and instead people came to him, the watchmaker. He worked by the dim light of a kerosene lantern in the old tin shed, bound to his work table, leather and parts scattered meticulously within reach. In the summer months, he employed a fan for comfort, which coupled with his Bonds singlet, made a formidable duo. Neighbours came, and so did the men and women from the town. Word of mouth soon spread to the big city folk and they too came in search of the watchmaker. There was nothing fancy about his watches. There was no twenty-four carat gold, no ornate detailing designed to appeal to the crowd. He created them, distinct on its own, as though a living heirloom of the person it was intended for. Craftsmanship had no substitute and his watches had a leather and glass life of their own. People liked that in an unsocial society. He brought them something. Nostalgia, memories, happiness. He told them stories about their timepieces. He gave originality to the mundane. When he worked, he worked.

My grandfather liked the hot summers in the shed, but without question, he loved the rain the most. My grandmother would bring him cups of tea, carrying her umbrella aloft across the evergreen backyard, and he would sit with her, listening to the symphony of raindrops falling on tin. It was the only time I ever saw him distracted at work, watching solitary forgotten beads of rain chasing each other down the outside of the window pane. He’d sit me down and look outside. We would try and follow the singular drops of rain, hurtling from the sky toward the earth. Even then, he seemed to control time, slowing them down as he watched them plummet. He seemed an outlaw to time, uncatchable, always out of reach.

I was twelve years old when my grandfather passed. My grandfather who sold time. He saw clearly all the simple things, and gazed hard into all he did not. My grandfather was an honest man but the biggest dreamer of the lot.

grandparents

About the author

Will Kearvell

Willing proponent of nostalgia.

Reader insights

Outstanding

Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insights

  1. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

  2. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  3. On-point and relevant

    Writing reflected the title & theme

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Comments (10)

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  • Lea Springerabout a month ago

    Love your play on words in your title and your evocative language in describing your grandfather.

  • Janet Carpenterabout a month ago

    Reminded me of my own grandfather and his stories..."timeless"... Good job!

  • Cristina Hectorabout a month ago

    Thank you for sharing this sweet story about your grandfather.. I just loved it!💛

  • Man of Mystery about a month ago

    You can glimpse into the life of your grandfather . Amazing read

  • Alesandra Lizarragaabout a month ago

    Wow!

  • Jorja Graceabout a month ago

    beautiful

  • Visualmodoabout a month ago

    Amazing!

  • Jennifer Trueabout a month ago

    I enjoyed this story. I think your use repetition works very well here. You have some wonderful word choices and descriptive phrases. I particularly like, "listening to the symphony of raindrops falling on tin", "His old hands were calloused, but his voice smooth", "watching solitary forgotten beads of rain chasing each other down the outside of the window pane." The picture you paint of your Grandfather here, it is very clear to me, he is a very specific person. "My grandfather saw the world, and then he saw the way of the world, which were two separate things he said." Thank you for sharing. :)

  • Joan Gershmanabout a month ago

    What a lovely story. So much said in so few words. Very well written. I learned more about your grandfather in this little story than if you had written pages.

  • Jamie Downingabout a month ago

    Grandparents the most precious of folk.

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