father and son standing in field

Time to be thankful

Home Front: An untimely alarm reminds John and Kendra Smiley of a lot more than just an appointment.

It was 8 p.m. and I heard an alarm going off. It wasn’t loud and obnoxious, just a consistent beep, beep, beep — one I’d never heard before. I went to search for the noisemaker and quickly found the source. The alarm was coming from John’s watch, sitting on the dining room table. I had no idea what the alarm was supposed to signal, but obviously, it was time to do something. I also had no idea how to turn it off, so I took it to John, who was sitting in the office.

Kendra handed me my watch, and as she stood there looking at me, I knew she was wondering why an alarm was sounding. Was there something I was supposed to do at 8? Or was there something we were supposed to do? The answer to both of those unspoken questions was “no.” The beeping alarm on my watch had nothing to do with an appointment or an upcoming phone call. I hadn’t set the alarm.

At first I was as confused as Kendra, but as I pushed the small button to stop the beeping, it dawned on me that earlier in the day, our grandson Caleb had been playing with my watch. Obviously, he had innocently set the alarm. I explained the situation to Kendra and let her know I’d take care of it so no future alarms would sound. (Admittedly, my next thought was wondering how I was supposed to accomplish that task.)

After fiddling with the watch for a few seconds, John must have decided the mission had been accomplished (or maybe he thought continuing to try and solve the problem wasn’t worth the effort). It really didn’t matter to me, because the watch was now silent and it remained that way — until the next morning at 8, when the alarm sounded once again.

I was wearing the watch, and when I heard it, I simply tapped the silencing button, imagining I might take time later in the day to mute the alarm permanently. But, as you’ve probably already guessed, I didn’t think of it again until that evening at 8 p.m.

We soon grew used to the 8 a.m./8 p.m. beeping, and believe it or not, it no longer bothered either one of us. Instead, it was a gentle reminder, not just of Caleb (the 4-year-old responsible for the beeping), but of all our grandchildren.

It became a reminder that it was time to be thankful for another day or for the one we’d just enjoyed, time to be flexible, time to remember there are a whole lot of things that really don’t matter. Who would have imagined that a 4-year-old’s fiddling with his grandpa’s watch could actually inspire thoughts like these?

And the watch continues to beep. For me it’s a reminder to pray for that little guy responsible for the alarm, and for his sisters and his cousins; it’s a reminder to be thankful for family. Oh, yes, and we’re thankful Caleb didn’t set the alarm for 2 a.m. and 2 p.m.!

John and Kendra Smiley farm near East Lynn, Ill. Email [email protected], or visit kendrasmiley.com.

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