I’ve never really been a person who attaches sentiment to objects. Aside from photographs, I don’t really feel a need to hold on to things from my past as a way of ‘remembering’. This is often much to the annoyance of my Mum who will say ‘I have these things from your childhood, would you like to have them?’. I almost always politely decline.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I’m trying to forget where I’ve come from; I’m extremely lucky to have had wonderful experiences and a life that in the main, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. Perhaps that’s why I’ve never felt the need to hang onto things, the memories are generally enough for me. When it comes to ‘stuff’, I’m more driven by the desire to remove clutter than I am to hoard sentimental objects. I just don’t feel much sense of loss with letting things go…
So the fact that I still have this watch feels, at least to me, unusual.
The watch belonged to my Dad. On the morning when he passed away in 2008, I felt a sudden urge to ‘have something’ that had belonged to him. I don’t recall having experienced a feeling like that before and I’m not sure I’ve experienced it since. Anyway, the result of that sudden rush of materialistic emotion is that I have this watch.
There’s nothing particularly significant about the watch. It wasn’t any kind of heirloom; I didn’t even know of its existence until after Dad died and I doubt that he ever considered that this would be the one object of his that I would hang onto. I’m sure he would have preferred to think of me having his collection of power tools, or maybe his stamp collection. However, the watch it is.
Whenever I think about my dad, it’s very often the same memory. I’m around ten years old and we’re in the back garden of our house in Coventry where I grew up. We’re throwing a football to each other and we’re laughing because our throws are getting harder and harder each time, to the point where we’re practically hurling it at each other. I’m laughing and he’s laughing.
I have no idea why this is the recurring memory I have of him. Again, the moment had no real significance or importance and I’m sure if given the choice, he would have preferred my recurring memory of him to be something more profound. However, in the garden throwing the football it is.
The connection between these two things i.e. the watch and the memory throwing the football…the two things that are most prominent in connecting me with my Dad…has only recently occurred to me.
It’s made me think about the fact that we really have no control on how we’ll be remembered. We might like to think that our legacy will be our ‘finest hour’, whatever that may have be, but in reality we’re more likely to be remembered for things less significant. Like a watch, or throwing a football in the garden…
Does it even matter how we’re remembered? It’s not like we’ll be around to worry about it? Nonetheless, I’ve been thinking about it and in particular, about the randomness of it.
I suspect the majority of us would at least like to think we’re remembered for something positive, but again we have little control on that outcome.
Despite it being random, maybe I can stack the odds. Maybe if I spend more time being positive, there’s a greater chance that I’ll be remembered for something positive, however random and insignificant. There’s got to be some logic to that right?
Come to think of it, I’m really not sure prize possession I’ll be leaving behind? I’m not sure that an f/2.0 35mm EF mount lens (with image stabilisation, obvs) makes for a particularly sentimental heirloom…