Last night, we as a family, had a farewell dinner for him; a small ciao celebration.. At the dinner, after a short pep talk, I took out a small white leather bag out of my pocket and said, "this is for you."
He opened and found the watch; excited he hailed, “I knew it, I knew that it was THE watch."
The “famous watch” that our kids grew up listening stories about it:
Thirty two years ago, on August of 1987 I moved to the United States. I emigrated from Ecuador looking for a change, to improve my life.
Until then, I had lived a life of comfort, although our father was not a wealthy man, he managed to provide our family a well-to-do life, a large house, housekeepers, private schools and so on. Yet, my lifestyle until then had not been an exemplary one; I was 19 always struggling academically or athletically, plenty of partying, “friends” and constantly getting in-some type of trouble and gradually getting into big-trouble. These inconvenient situations are the ones that motivated me to decide that it was time to leave home and re-set on my life.
I approached my father with this great plan, he looked at me, knowing about my lack of interest in applying myself, he laughed and said "good luck to you." Well, this time, for the first time, I was determined to save my life, to do something on my own.
It took a few months to plan the trip, but in August of 1987 I was ready to start my venture, emigrate to the US in search of my future.
At the airport on the day of my trip, my father pulled me to the side and said to me “when you are ready to come back...” (knowing that it was impossible that I wouldn’t regret my decision as soon as I get to my destination; I did not speak one word of English or have any skills to survive alone)... “when you are ready to come back," while taking his Omega gold watch from his wrist, "use this watch; this is your ticket back to Ecuador." Meaning: you will surrender and you will be completely broke; sell the watch and find a ticket to come back home.
My father had done a similar trip, 47 years before me, he emigrated to the US without the language or a skill, so he knew that it was not going to be an easy ride — Little did I know what was in store for me, working as laborer, sleeping on the floor, being abused and discriminated for being Latino and surviving on my own.
Anyway, 2 years later, after “establishing” my life in the US, I was able to come back home for a holiday. I went to see my grandparents, where I learned that someone had stolen my grandpa's watch; I took my Omega off, saying, “ Abuelito, I don’t need this anymore, you keep it," and placed it on his wrist.
Years later, after a long-life, Abuelito passed away and sadly 6 months after his passing my father passed away; we were in shock.
A year or more after their passing I finally decided to go through their personal belongings and clean the house where my grandparents lived for the last 40 years of their lives and where my father also lived his last years. While going through their belongings I found, after 20 years, sitting on my fathers desk in a little drawer the watch, my watch, our Omega watch. Tears came down of warmth and joy. I took it to be cleaned and kept it with me for the past ten years knowing that one day I would find the right use for it and I found it, Gabriel.
__Gabriel, this watch is not your ticket back, this watch is for when you feel alone; it is for when you are doubting yourself, for when you are tired and thinking of giving up — hold it and remember that anything worth having takes work, a lot of effort, commitment and determination.
At the same age that my father, your father left, you are leaving; it is not going to be easy, but it is exciting. Make the best of it, stay on the path, have fun but stay focused. We love you.