My grandmother’s clock

After my grandmother died, I inherited her mantel clock. The clock itself isn’t anything really special — it’s more the sentimental connection with my grandmother who left it to me and with my mom and dad, who refinished the exterior and kept it for me when I was in college. It reminds me of home and the young girl I once was.

Unfortunately, the clock stopped working at some point several years ago. As required by most antique clocks, I had to wind it with a key every week to keep it working, and finally the mainspring broke; I could feel it give as I turned the key. It wasn’t surprising, since the clock was really old — probably a hundred years or more — so a bit of repair and TLC seemed like a realistic investment. I found a clock repair shop in town that specialized in antique clocks and Rick took it in for me.

I don’t know how long the clock was in the shop the first time, but it was a very long time. Every time Rick would go to talk to them, they would tell us how you can’t rush these things: certain parts have to be ordered, and others have to be made. It was a slow and tedious process that shouldn’t be rushed. We waited and waited, and started kidding that we needed to establish visitation rights. And then after perhaps six or eight months, we got the call: the clock was ready — come and get it!

We returned it to its place of honor on our fireplace mantel and I wound it up, planning to watch some TV for a bit in the room while I enjoyed our recently returned family member. It seemed very stiff and it wound really hard, but I wound it all the way. As I watched TV, with the shows on half-hour schedules, it was really easy to keep track of the amount of time that passed. At the end of a one-hour show, the clock had chimed through about three or four hours. That would never do, so Rick packed it up and took it back for more work — work that, obviously, could not be rushed!

We went about our lives and once again waited for the call. More kidding took place about visitation rights, and as holidays came and went and family visited our farm, everyone wanted to know what happened to our clock. We told the story over and over again as we waited. Months passed. Suddenly we again got a call that the clock repair was finished! Rick picked it up and again brought it home.

I again wound my good friend and sat down to watch some TV. This time there was no chiming every twenty minutes or so; all was quiet except for the tick-tock that softly permeated the house. When the one-hour show was finished, I looked up at the clock to find that, according to its face, only ten minutes had passed. Not again! One more time, Rick packed it up in the same box and took it back for further repair. That was during lambing 2016, over six months ago.

As I walk around the house, I often think of my clock, sitting at the repair shop for another year. New Year’s will come and go, and the mantel will likely still hold that empty spot right in the center, the spot that is reserved for my grandmother’s clock. The joking about visitation has spread — friends now know the story of the clock, and we hear often from visitors to our home. “Have you seen your clock lately?” “Has it grown over the years?” “By now, it should be nearly a grandfather clock!”

Last night as I walked into the parlor for the evening and saw the empty place on the mantel, my curiosity got the best of me and I decided to ask Rick about the clock. I hadn’t asked for a long time because I knew that he couldn’t help that it was taking forever — he was as frustrated as I was. Yet I also knew that he had been running errands in town before coming home to muck out the ewes’ shelter. Perhaps he might have checked in?

So as Rick came in the back door, I asked him, “Did you, by chance, visit the clock? How is it doing? Can I maybe visit?” In reply, I heard, “Oh, it’s doing just fine. It walked out into the East Pasture with me when I was working around the barn, and everything looked good!” WHAT?!

When I finally stopped laughing, I found out that he had heard me ask about “the flock” instead of “the clock” — and then it all made sense! Yet I’ll admit that I very much enjoy the vision of my grandmother’s clock joining us in pasture walks, much like my llama co-workers — checking on various sheep, looking over the western sky for the incoming weather, and generally assisting around the farm. After all, we can always use a couple of extra hands!

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