WACHS: When time flies by, thank goodness for pictures


The place in my house where I spend more time than in any other place, including the area containing the dinner table, is a room we call “the study.”

Some of what gives that room its name actually does go on there. From time to time in that space, I read and study while preparing sermons for Sunday morning worship services. Other times I’ll ponder what to put in these columns. You may be able to tell if the pondering has been any good or not by what’s produced by those efforts.

Then there are the times I “study” various videos, like clips of UNC basketball games or old episodes of “Hill Street Blues” or “NYPD Blue.” I “study” tv cartoons of my youth because you can’t find “Woody Woodpecker” on the tube today. Sometimes I “study” how to beat my daughter in our daily challenge of who gets the best score in Wordle. And, no lie here, I have even “studied” the inside of my eye lids as all that effort got to me.

Therea’s a certain personality to the room. There are stacks of books in the built-in bookcases and on the floor and on the file cabinet and on my desk about baseball and U.S. History and current events, all waiting for “someday.” There are items of memorabilia on those shelves such as a rag doll my grandmother, who died when I was so young I don’t remember her, made for me. There are commemorative soft drink bottles on shelves, celebrating national collegiate basketball championships won by UNC and N.C. State. And there are stacks of old newspapers and boxes of I-don’t-really-know-what.

And more.

But it dawned on me the other day, as I pounded out this column, that as I sit at the keyboard there are three pictures of my father surrounding me. And that reminded me of something I read the other day that impressed me so much I wrote it down: “I wish I could turn the clock back to when my dad was young and healthy.” As I thought about that and looked at those three images, the thought came how true that is.

Those pictures trace his years. One of them is of him as a boy of about four or five. It’s a large image, hanging on the wall above my head. It was a black and white picture that was later “colorized.” He’s a cute little boy all dressed up in a white sailor suit.

Then there’s a small snapshot of me and him. In that one, I’m about four or five and he’s squatting beside me, arm around my waist and mine on his shoulder. He’s wearing a white straw hat and sunglasses, looking pretty sharp. I sort of remember how he looked then.

But what I really remember is how he looked in the last photo; it’s him and Mama taken for a church directory while, like the saying mentioned earlier, he was healthy, at least reasonably so.

I miss him. I’d like to hear his voice again, to talk with him about life in general and some things in specific, to let him see my eight grandchildren and to relive old memories and make some new ones.

Funny thing about clocks and time. We can’t rewind it or turn it back; can’t save it or make more of it. We can only spend it . . . or waste it.

Make good use of yours, especially if your dad – or mama – is still with you.

I’d like to think my daddy would be proud of me.