When I was 25, I had a birthday party. Just a family party. Nothing out of the ordinary, we celebrate birthdays until we die and my mom goes all out. My grannie was there. My dad was there. Neither of which are here anymore. My dad got me several presents. He never really knew how to shop and this could have been the last birthday that he physically bought and wrapped presents. Later it became money, which was appreciated just as much but not as nearly as sentimental.
One of the gifts he gave me was a clock. Just a wall clock, nothing fancy. It has a pendulum and it chimes on the hour. It probably cost him $19.99, maybe even $14.99 from Walmart. We talking 13 years ago. It’s moved with me and always hung in a prominent place in the living room. It takes 4 AA batteries to get it to work. Two for the tick tock part, and two for the chimes. I haven’t had batteries in the chiming part for a long time. I can’t even remember the last time it chimed. I’m sure I didn’t have enough batteries to change out, and only replaced the two for tick tocking.
This past weekend, it stopped. Like most clocks, it slowed down at first, began losing time, then the second hand just stood on the number ten and twitched for a while before it completely shut down. Like a slow death. Like a person dying. First they slow down, then began losing some of their function, and then they just seem to hang on for a long time, like the second hand on the number ten before they’re gone. Just gone.
Today, I dug some AA batteries out of my big gallon jug appropriately labeled “batteries” and took the clock off the wall. I began the simple task, or what I thought would be, of getting a clock to run again. I had to pry the old batteries out with a butter knife, then replace with new ones. Nothing happened. I pried them out again, checking that they were in the right direction, nothing. I dug through my gallon jug for different batteries, replaced them and still….nothing. I wiggled the silver parts that hold the batteries in place, I jiggled different things, nothing was working.
And then I was hit with emotion. Wham! Bam! It took me completely by surprise and waylaid me. My heart started to hurt, tears began to well up. I took a deep breath and did some internal talking trying to make sense of why this was so upsetting to me. It’s just a clock. But on the flip side, it’s not just a clock. It’s a clock that I like, and my dad gave it to me. And that, my friends, put me into a tail spin. My mind began racing, tears flowing, fingers still using a butter knife to place and replace batteries in a clock, trying to find the meaning, the symbolism in all this. One more thing of my dad’s that’s gone? Lost time? Am I losing time? Am I wasting time? What does this mean? Why is this wrecking me right now?
I sat the clock down on the kitchen table and walked off. I had to get a grip. But my steps took me to the living room where I instinctively looked at the wall and saw the bare spot where it hung. I went back to the kitchen. I needed something to eat. Eating would stop the shaking. I popped two pieces of bread in the toaster, but couldn’t leave it alone. I went back into the utility room and pulled the jug of batteries off the shelf. Rummaging through all the triple A’s and the C’s, I found my last two double A batteries. I said a prayer, please God let this work. I need help.
I put the batteries in, and the clock began to tick. It began to tock. Relief swept over me. I looked up and said, Thank you Jesus. Thank you.
I then put two of the batteries that were not working in the chiming part, and it began to chime. I will never allow it not to chime again.
I hung it back on the wall, my wall of favorite things.
The clock from my dad, with the family prayer plaque from our dear friends Brad and Suzanne. The cross was given to me by my sweet friend Mrs. Z. The dog on the bed picture was something I bought for myself from JC Penney. I paid $109 for it when I was in college and it nearly broke me. My dad gave me the cedar chest. My sister and family gave me the old red truck, and I’m going to have one like it someday. The little church was bought with some money from my Aunt Bert after she sold us our house in Texas.