A Watch for a Lady
by Beverly Boone
When it first happened, that one, agonizing question, like a throbbing toothache, begged for a balm of healing. Repeatedly, that ubiquitous question poked at my senses with glass shards, leaving my mind oozing bewilderment and dripping anxiety: "Where is it?" "Where is it?" "Where is it?" "Where is it?" Where is…?"
I was up and dressed when I heard daddy's call: "It's a Beverly Day, Sleepy Head."
Daddy declared the first Saturday of each month, Beverly's Day — a day when Daddy and I did all the fun stuff that one day could hold! In our little town, we always ended up doing the same things because there were no bowling alleys, movie theaters, skating rinks,
or recreational parks available. But to be with my daddy, to hear his laughter, and to see his strength was to feel his love. That was more than enough for me!
I could hear my shoes as they clip-clopped along the concrete like a sticky metronome, as I walked proudly beside Daddy. We always stopped by Broadway's, a neighborhood vendor, for a hot dog. Daddy asked the same question of Mr. Broadway each time: "What type of mustards do you have today?" Each time, Mr. Broadway would smile and say, "Only the best mustards for you and your lovely daughter, Sir."
He then handed Mr. Broadway fifty cents for the two hot dogs, along with our sweating water bottles to be filled with ice before turning away to see my smile of approval. Mama, on the other hand, always avoided Mr. Broadway's hot dogs and hamburgers, raising questions of cleanliness: "Have you ever seen him wash his hands?”
A few of my classmates laughingly referred to Mr. Broadway’s fast food as the best snot dogs and booger burgers in town. As for daddy and me, we just called them mighty good as we sat under Mrs. Maudie's shady Red Maple gleefully devouring those good old dogs served with only the best mustard.
Daddy had a million stories about his childhood pure-breed Schnauzer puppy with only three legs. He said he found the poor dog abandoned in a ditch. Daddy said that he named the puppy Sparkie because he had a special sparkle in his eyes. He believed Sparkie would one day run and play just like other dogs. Months went by and it just didn’t seem likely that Sparkie would ever be like other dogs.
Daddy ignored disbelievers who insisted, “You can call that dog all day; he ain't coming."
"One day," Daddy said, " I called Sparkie's name. He poked his head from underneath the house and my three-legged dog came running towards me. You see, Beverly, hold on to what and whom you love."
At B. C. Moore's department store, I showed Daddy once again what I really wanted for my birthday — the Caravelle watch with its slender, double-rope black band and petite silver facing adorned with digits and dots. This was no little girl's watch, but clearly one for a lady…a lady about to turn 11. That would be me!
"Well, Beverly, it's too expensive right now but maybe for Christmas," surmised Daddy. When you're ten years old, waiting for Christmas is like waiting for the day after forever.
A few weeks later, Daddy came home to the tantalizing aroma of Mama's mouth – watering apple pie. Daddy volunteered to make the 10-minute walk to the Quick Stop for ice cream. Daddy never returned home that night. Instead, a policemen came with shattering news.
“The Montgomery Reporter” flew from metal newspaper dispensers the next day, reflecting in harsh sunlight our family's tragedy.
Mama, with her eyes blinking rapidly in a futile effort to hold back her tears, whispered the headline the next day: "Citizen Struck and Killed by Drunk Driver."
I awakened to my11th birthday just as I had each morning since Daddy died – with tears and sadness. Mama walked into my bedroom and placed a royal blue box in the palm of my hand. Inside was the shiny, sleek Caravelle watch with its slender, double-rope band and petite facing adorned with digits and dots. A note read: It's a Beverly Day! Happy 11th Birthday! Love, Daddy!
My Caravelle watch long made perfect by Daddy's love was now gone. For years, I was haunted by where it might be. I would leave the comfort of my bed at night to look for it ‘just one more time!’ Disturbing sofa pillows, my hands snaking through every tight space on the sofa; turning Mama's rocking chair upside down and revisiting my nightly routine of always leaving the watch on the mantle above the fireplace. My older sister, Sivi, enjoyed playing jokes on me, so I asked her repeatedly if she had hidden the watch.
“For Pete’s sake!” Sivi would exclaim. “Stop asking me about that watch! Accept it! It’s gone!”
My step brother, Charlie, a quiet man, was married to his much older wife, Josie, who often visited. Both reported having no knowledge of the whereabouts of my missing watch. My best friends, Cheryl and Ethel, drew blank faces when asked also.
One day, after seeing my growing despair, Mama said to me:
“Bib, Daddy's love is not with the watch. it's in your heart. We can never truly lose what is loved. I’m sorry the watch is gone, but you still have Daddy’s love.”
Fifty years had passed when I came home to find a UPS package at my door. Inside was my sleek Caravelle watch with its delicate double-rope black band and petite silver facing adorned with digits and dots…in mint condition. A Note read:
My Aunt Josie died a few weeks ago. When I saw this watch among her belongings, I knew it belonged to you or Sivi because she never
had children. I got your address from your Cousin Pam.