The Clock You Never Hear Ticking

Young Children


Ever notice this strange phenomenon? We seem to be able to control the speed of time. Watch the clock, and time slows down. Ignore it, and time flies.

When I retired, I could no longer hear the clock ticking—so I lost track of time. Time is no longer measured in minutes, but moments. For me, time is not measured by hours, but by height—the height of my young grandchildren who live across the country. Yes, the clock is silent now and I measure time by my grandchildren growing, developing, speaking, reasoning, questioning, and connecting the dots that although I am an absentee grandparent due to the miles, they still have an unfathomable capacity to love me. They are my new clock. The passage of time is observed by their transition from newborns to toddlers, to mischievous four-year-olds—at warp speed. Funny how the clock in retirement moves twice the speed as the one at work.

“There is only one thing more precious than our time,
and that’s who we spend it on.”

Leo Christopher

With two thousand miles between us, I don’t see them much, but when I do, it calls into focus not only my relationship with them, but with the only grandfather I ever knew. I don’t remember much about him except his laugh, his wooden cane with the rubber tip (I still have it), his shuffle, his playful personality, and his stubby index finger on his right hand after he accidently cut half of it off in a hydraulic box cutter at work.

He would stick that finger in his ear and make a goofy face. To us children, it looked like he just poked his brain with half his finger inserted into his ear. I remember his favorite TV shows: Have Gun Will Travel, The Rebel, and The Beverly Hillbillies. I recall his happy marriage to my grandmother, his aging process, the day we lost him, and the below-zero temperature at his gravesite the day we buried him.

Most of all, I remember his presence in my life—especially Friday nights when he would stop over with chocolate milk (a delicacy then) to see his six grandchildren and watch 77 Sunset Strip, a detective show in the 60s starring Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.

This has got me thinking recently about how to create a “presence” in the lives of my cross-country grandkids, especially since I can’t be there for the magical moments that are, in reality, just “everyday life.”

I don’t have all the answers, but I do know that achieving a presence in their lives won’t come from just the “minutes” I invest in their lives, but rather the “moments”—and the memories—I make.


SOMETHING TO CHEW ON:  Stephen R. Covey said, “The key is in not spending time, but in investing it.” Regardless of where you are in life or your career, how are you investing your time? Who are you investing it in? Any ideas on how to make memories?
Photo by Patti Brito on






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