A watchmaker dies and is buried with his pocket watch, but the next day, his widow sees a boy praying in church with the same watch in his hands.
Edith and Charley Urbeck had been together forever, or at least it seemed like it. The two had grown up in the same street in Brooklyn, gone to the same school, and started dating in high school.
There was no Charley without Edith, no Edith without Charley, until that dreadful day the phone rang in the middle of a Saturday afternoon when Charley was supposed to be playing golf. The news brought Edith to her knees. Her Charley was gone.
Edith was in a daze. How was it possible? How could Charley be gone? He was so young, only 55, and that was nothing nowadays. How could she go on without him?
Through the funeral arrangements, the wake, the ceremony, even at her husband’s graveside, Edith felt it was all some elaborate hoax, and that Charley would suddenly sit up and shout: “GOTCHA!”
But it wasn’t a hoax or a practical joke. Edith knew this even as she picked out Charley’s favorite suit, the one with the fancy waistcoat, and his silk Italian tie. Then she opened Charley’s chest of drawers and took out his treasure.
Inside a special case was a very old pocket watch Charley had inherited from his father. Back in their first days of marriage, he would tell her one day it would go to their son, and maybe he too would be a watchmaker.
But there had been no babies, boys or girls, and for a time, it had seemed that their marriage would collapse. They had even separated, but after three months, Charley showed up.
“I married you cause I love you, Edith,” he said. “And I can’t live without you.” They had never spoken about those three bitter months apart, they just went back to being Edith and Charley.
Now Edith took out that pocket watch and placed it carefully in the undertaker’s hands. “I want this watch to be buried with my husband.” The undertaker nodded and took the watch. He would make sure Edith’s wishes were carried out.
And so Charley lay there in his coffin, with the gleaming pocket-watch chain across his waistcoat, looking too alive to be dead. Edith wanted to scream that it was all a mistake, but then they were closing the coffin and soft earth was falling.
It was over, there was no part of Charley left in this world and she was all alone. That night, Edith couldn’t sleep. She kept tossing and turning, reaching for Charley.
Finally, she got up. It was 6:00 am and the sun was just rising. She got dressed, picked up her purse and her keys, and walked out of the house. She wandered the waking streets for a while, then found herself heading for the church.
Sometimes fate will open a door that leads to a new future.
It was so quiet, there was no one there except a boy up front lighting a candle. So Edith headed for Charley’s favorite saint, Saint Eligius, patron saint of metalworkers and clockmakers, and knelt to say a prayer.
A few minutes later she heard someone close by and had the sensation that a person had knelt by her side. The person was sobbing softly, and when Edith glanced sideways, she saw a boy kneeling there.
The boy had his hands clasped around something, something that looked terribly familiar to Edith. It was Charley’s watch. She sprang to her feet. “Where did you get that?” she screamed, and her voice echoed in the silent, empty church.
The boy immediately sprang to his feet, and in seconds, disappeared. “Thief!” Edith heard herself screaming, “Thief!” It was then that a tall man in a soutane appeared out of a side door.
“Mrs. Urbeck,” said Father Garret gently. “Are you alright?”
Edith was gasping for air. “That boy, he has my husband’s watch, but I buried that watch…”
Father Garret looked shocked. “That boy…I know him well, he’s one of my altar boys. He’d never steal!”
“I want to speak to him, right now, or I call the police,” Edith said. Father Garret reluctantly led her to a nearby building and knocked on an apartment door. A woman in her late forties opened it and looked surprised to see them.
“Father Garret,” the woman said. “Is there a problem?”
“I’m sorry, Florence,” Father Garret said, “but could we talk to Chuck?” A yell into the next room brought the boy out. He was about 15, with dark hair and broad shoulders, and his eyes were red with weeping.
Edith sprung into the attack. “You have my husband’s watch! How did you get it?”
The boy lifted his chin defiantly. “It’s MY watch, mine.” And he raised his hand. At first glance, the watch was exactly like Charley’s, but the boy pressed a spring and the back popped open.
Inside was engraved: “Remember to cherish every moment as I cherish you, my son.”
“My son?” Edith asked, bewildered.
“Please,” the woman Father Garret referred to as Florence said as she stepped forward and held Edith’s hands gently. “We never meant to hurt you, ever. Charles and I, we had an affair while you were separated…
“But he knew that he loved you, he never lied to me. He wanted you back. When I fell pregnant, he told me you came first. He has been a caring father to Chuck, but you were the center of his life.”
“Chuck? Chuck is Charley’s boy?” Edith was staring at the boy, noticing for the first time the bold chin, the curious eyes. He looked just like Charley…
She stepped forward and placed a gentle hand on Chuck’s cheek. “There is a part of my Charley in this world. I’m so glad, so glad…”
As she cried, Chuck put his arms around her and hugged her. From then on, Edith became a frequent visitor to Florence and Chuck’s house, and she set up a trust for his education. Maybe Chuck will become a watchmaker and take over the family business…
What can we learn from this story?
- Sometimes fate will open a door that leads to a new future. Edith thought she had lost everything, but she discovered she could help Charley’s son.
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