|Paper||Ogden Valley News|
|Rights||In Copyright (InC)|
|Rights Holder||SR Communications DBA, Eden, Utah|
|Publisher||Digitized by J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah|
|Paper||Ogden Valley News|
Page 10 THE OGDEN VALLEY NEWS March “= 15, 2007 One Constant Thing... By Drienie Hattingh A month before Christmas 2006, I came up with a perfect present for my husband Johan. It had to be a very special gift, something to show how proud I was of him and all he had accomplished in life; how much I appreciated all he did for our family. But let me start at the beginning .. Thirty-eight years ago (1969), I came up with a perfect 20th birthday present for Johan. It had to be a very special gift; something that would encourage him at the very beginning of his career—something that he would, perhaps, cherish all of his life. One day, on my way to work in downtown Johannesburg, I looked at a window display in a little jewelry store and saw the most handsome watch that I’d ever seen. Behind the display was a breathtaking picture of Switzerland—where this watch had been crafted. This, I knew, was the giftI was looking for. But I earned R70 ($70) a month; the watch cost almost double that. The jeweler placed the watch in my hands and I felt its solid weight. The gold face was understated but sophisticated. The one hand glided silently from one second to the next. “It’s an Omega—perhaps the best watchmakers in the world.” He said. I arranged with the jeweler to give him an amount of money towards the watch every month until it was paid off—hopefully before Johan’s birthday. I stopped at the jewelry store every month and gave the jeweler whatever I could spare after my other expenses. On June 30, 1969, I proudly put the final R22 on the counter. The jeweler smiled, reached under the counter, and handed me a sleek box wrapped in silver paper. “I knew you’d come for it soon.’ Happy Birthday! | told Johan five days later. I hugged and kissed him and gave him the little box. A look of “you shouldn’t have” crossed his handsome face and he kissed me again. When he opened the box, his jaw dropped. I got another long hug and a kiss to match. “This is the best present I’ve ever received!” He said with a shaky voice. “I’ve never owned anything so beautiful. I will treasure it always.” The next year we were married. Two years later, we bought our first house in Greenhills, located just outside Johannesburg, and, soon after, our son Eugene was born. Johan did so cy oA well that we bought a nicer home two years later—one closer to the city. Soon after, Brenda was born. It was around this time that the Omega started loosing time. I took it to a jeweler who told me that it would cost R300 to repair! “But the watch cost R120!” I said. “The Omega now sells for a R1,000,” he replied. “We have to send it to Switzerland. It’ll take a long time to fix. You know, the Swiss are very particular about their watches Johan was working hard at his career; supporting our little family. The Omega would have to wait. Johan bought a regular watch and put the Omega in the drawer of his bedside table. I guess there were times in the succeeding years that we could have had it repaired, but somehow we never did. Seven years later, Johan reached the top of his career and we bought a beautiful home i in ain Johannesburg. A year later Yolan ears later, we made eae eis time we crossed the oceans to America. Every time we moved, I packed the Omega along with other cherished possessions. In 1987, when we arrived in America, unpacked and put the Omega in Johan’s bedside table where it would have to stay for a long time, since money was limited as we began a new life in a new coun In the following years, I was there for the children as they adapted to a new land; and for Johan as he worked hard at a new career. And, just like in South Africa, he gave it his all and soon excelled. We bought our first American home in Minnesota. The years assed, our children followed their dreams, and Johan and I moved once more—this time to Eden, Utah. It was a lovely snowy December day in the Valley when I stood in front of Johan’s bedside table. I was scared. What if the Omega wasn’t in the drawer? When we arrived in Eden four years ago, did I unpack the Omega and put it in its usual place? I could not remember. My fingers felt around the drawer frantically. When it closed around the slim, firm box, my knees nearly buckled with relief. I lifted the lid and there it was. The Omega’s glass was scratched and dull and so was the gold casing; the strap was dirty. I sat down on the bed with the watch in my hands and again felt the weight, just as I did when the jeweler first put it in my hand. We had our whole lives ahead of us back then, our hearts full of dreams. Not married yet, we often dreamed about our future together—the children we hoped to have, and about one day owning a home. Johan told me how hard he was going to work, and that he would finish his degree so he’d be able to assure us a good life. I smiled as I closed my hand around the Omega, and looked out the window at the snow covered Wasatch Mountains. When Johan last wore the Omega, what would he have said if he knew that, one day, we would be American citizens? I drove to The Newgate Mall, the Omega tucked into my purse. At Fred Meyer Jewelers, the manager, Buddy Romero, inspected the Omega through a magnifying glass. “It’s a Constellation,” he said with admiration. “The casing is solid gold ...a beautiful watch. We don’t have any on display; they’re too expensive.” I told him that I wanted to have it serviced, repaired, and cleaned for Johan for Christmas. He laughed. “Tt will have to be a Valentine present. I have to send it to Los Angeles to Jewel in Time. Alex is a certified watchmaker. I’ve been in this business for 25 years and Alex is the best I’ve seen. He was trained in Switzerland; actually, all over Europe. I’ve seen him working on watches.” Buddy said in awe. “To watch him repair a watch. . . he handles them like jewels; everything so precise! When Alex services a watch and discovers a dysfunctional part, he replaces it. It’s going to be expensive . . . about $250.” I expected that; I’d been saving my freelance writing checks for several months for Johan’s Christmas present. This time I wouldn’t walk away. “The owner,” I told Buddy, “has been waiting for this watch for 27 years; he can wait a little longer. If not a Christmas present, it will be a Valentine’s Day present!” t was difficult to walk away leaving the . It’s been with Johan and me for 37 . During that time, we married, had three beautiful children, left our country of birth and all that we had ever known and loved, and made a new beginning in a new land. Loved ones had died and babies were born, and Johan retired. Since I first gave Johan the Omega, we’ve weathered many a storm. mega was in someone else’s possession. I looked back to the store. Buddy must have understood. He smiled reassuringly as if to say, “Don’t worry, we’ll take good care of it.” Two months later, a week before Valentine’s Day, I got a call. The Omega was ready! Tommy Espinoza helped me this time and proudly showed me the Omega. The dull, scratched front was replaced with clear crystal glass, and the gold casing shone as it did when first I saw it in the window of the jewelry store in Johannesburg. “I know you had to wait a long time,” Tommy said. “But, you know, the Swiss are really particular about their watches I smiled—remembering another jeweler who had said the same thing to me a long time ago, and far, far awa’ Tommy helped me choose 2 a leather strap that was similar to the original, and replaced the old one with it. He was so kind and patient. Then he put the Omega in a new box, wrapped it in gold paper, and tied a red bow around it. He smiled and put the slim gold box in my hand—just like the jeweler 37 years ago. Blinking away tears, I thanked Tommy from the bottom of my heart. On Valentine’s Day, Johan came downstairs for breakfast and turned around again. “T left my watch upstairs.” I smiled a sly little smile. “No, your watch is down here. Happy Valentine’s Day,” I said as I gave him the slim gold box. He gave me that, “You shouldn’t have,” smile. Then he saw Fred Meyer’s name on the box. “Drienie, you shouldn’t have bought a watch at a jeweler! It must have been expensive!” He looked at the watch, with a puzzled expression. Then he waispered, “Tt’s my Omega!” wrapped me in a long embrace and whispered in my ear. “This is the most wonderful gift you have given me since you first gave me this watch!” He kissed me and hugged me again. Then he looked at the watch intensely for a long time. “This means more to me than you can ever imagine, Drienie.” There were tears in his eyes. “When I first got this watch, I was a young man, sort of arrogant, ready to conquer the world. 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