Thursday, June 04, 2009

And the Clock Stopped

Theme Thursday again and I'd forgotten completely about this until I saw that the theme was Clock

There was a clock that hung above my mother in law's mantle in their old house in Baulkham Hills. It was one of those small 'granfathery' style clocks, timber surround, roman face and a pendulum that had a rather soporific tick. I've done some things to the tick of that clock I don't mind telling you from making love on her couch (thank God she doesn't read this) to breastfeeding babies and rocking to it's gentle rhythm.

The clock, was promised to each son as a gift for their first born. I won the race when squishy little pinky ClareBear entered the world as we know it on the 4th December 1984. The clock was still very much in use and was 'bequeathed' to be awarded at a later date. I wasn't too fussed, it's not to my taste but a nice gesture and the beginning of a family heirloom.

On the 27th March, 1988 at 9:02, my husband was pronounced dead from a surprise myocardial infarction, caused the coroner said by a viral infection. A simple cold, a touch of the flu which had for some reason struck down this amazing person in the prime of his life at just 35 years of age.

The clock stopped. Just like that. For four days, the clock just stopped.

Distraught and naturally distracted by other things at this awful time, my mother in law didn't even bother to wind it up again, that fateful time still stuck on it's shiny brass face as if to mark this momentous but terrible occasion.

During the few days between his passing and the funeral, the house was full of people, tears, laughter, remembrance, champagne and trays of food brought by well-meaning friends and neighbours. The sun shone, as it often does in March . .warm and breezy . . four of the most beautiful temperate days. The flowers filled my mother's lounge (I hadn't gone home since), covered the piano and spilled out into the hallway, dozens of arrangements, everywhere and arriving every hour, every day. Cards lined every windowsill and the phone seemed to ring incessantly.

The funeral was held, we laughed, we cried, we gathered, we hugged, we caught up with long lost friends and relatives as you so often do . . over 200 people signed the visitors book with kind wishes and warm thoughts . . .

Then the house went quiet. Deathly still, sombre, sad as the realisation that this was it, life as we knew it had ended and something different was about to begin.

The day after he was cremated . . .the clock began to chime . . every 15 minutes then strikes on the hour, just as it always had and just as it should. No winding, no cajoling or encouragement. It just cranked up again and it was business as usual.

Like the time suspended in those four days for those us who knew and loved him, the time between Ray dying and the funeral, the clock had suspended belief, suspended time, ceased to tick or chime. It's pendulum stood silent sentinel as if in a moment of remembrance. Then, once all over . . .it's pulse recharged and it hasn't stopped ticking since. Although the chime is now too painful for my mother and father-in-law who still have the clock hung at their seaside home. It still ticks merrily and the pendulum sways but she's turned off the chimes, for them, there's little to sing about when it comes to the clock.

Don't be sad . . this was 21 years ago . .and this month one of my sweetest friends turns 21 . .strange little co-incidence! Time is relative, it's fleeting, it ticks and it tocks, it warps and it wends . . and just sometimes, for a fleeting moment, it stops . . .maybe that's why I don't really care much for clocks.

36 comments:

River said...

All through the reading of this, i was reminded of the old song, "My Grandfather's Clock". Have you ever heard it? I don't remember much of it, but it starts out:-
My grandfather's clock was too tall for the shelf, so it stood ninety years on the floor.......(words I don't remember)...but it stopped short, never to go again, when the old man died....."
It's like the clock feels the pulse of the home and stops when it's no longer there.

Grannymar said...

I was singing that song "My Grandfather's Clock" in my head while reading the post.

I am not good with ticking clocks or indeed any repetitive sound, tipping doors or dripping taps drive me insane. I knew a guy who collected large clocks and had one standing or hanging at every wall in the house! They all chimed and bonged seconds or minutes apart! Visits were a nightmare!

I don't wear a watch, but then why would I? Clocks are everywhere... on mobile phones, computers, radios, cookers, microwaves and in cars.

Ronda Laveen said...

Isn't it an amazing thought that if all the clocks would stop or disappear, we would mark time so much differently? Beautiful post, Baino. I truly, truly enjoyed your sharing. Namaste.

nick said...

I don't really have any emotional associations with clocks, they're entirely functional, to remind me of the time. But I'm always moved by the sound of church bells, and there are some just up the road here that have a very Italian sound.

tony said...

That Time between a Death & A Funeral is always a strange place.Time Stands Still.'Nice That The Old Clock Respected The Fact.
Great Post.Thank You For Sharing It With Us.
X

The Silver Fox said...

Fascinating anecdote. Thanks.

Susan said...

Wow, such a memory and so beautifully told! Thanks for sharing that one, as deeply as you did. What an heirloom for Claire, with that story.

One of my earliest memories is the delivery of my father's new grandfather clock; I was tiny and its chimes terrified me. Then as I got older I loved it because it was so tall and dignified and his. Then he died, my mother stopped winding it, and I hated it and its silence. Now I wonder if that's why I don't wear a watch and never care what time it is...? (never thought about it really before)

Brian Miller said...

even the clock paused in moment of silence...great post baino...thank you for your reality and willingness to share! hope you have a great day!

ian said...

Visiting countless houses of bereaved people over the years, ticking clocks seem to take on an eerie quality. I think the silences at such times are deep and intense and you become mindful of every sound, the ticking of the clock seems almost to emphasize the moment

Mrsupole said...

That was one respectful clock that you wrote about. Funny how all the clocks I have are ones that came with something that I was buying. The only clock that is just a clock, my daughter left here when she moved out. I too have quit wearing watches because I always have my cell phone to tell me the time. I wonder how the watch business is doing. Come to think of it I never see any watch commercials anymore.

Thank you for sharing this clock story with us.

God bless.

Kate said...

Oh that song!!! And I remember every word.....

The human brain is a wonderful time machine!

hokgardner said...

What a touching story. THank you for sharing it.

mouse (aka kimy) said...

such a beautiful post.

thanks for sharing this meaningful passage from your life...for ray's clock to stop when he was only 35, so sad, so sad.

methinks, that is some magical clock

(btw I fell behind reading bb, but am all caught up....am sending you positive energy on 'the hunt' and pray it won't be long till you'll be clocking in with some sweet employer!)

willow said...

Too, too young to be taken from this life. My heart goes out to you, Baino, even if it has been all these years ago.

laughingwolf said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nancy said...

So many years ago and yet it makes such a poignant and touching story.

Thank you for sharing your memories with us, Baino. You have such a wonderful way with words..

Poetikat said...

Very nice, honest post, Baino. I am a bit saddened by it, but am happy to know that you've come through it okay and find joy in your life.

River - I sang "My Grandfather's Clock" for my Grade One class and their parents. I will never forget that song.

Kat

Leah said...

I am also reminded of "Stop All the Clocks" by Auden.

I couldn't help but shed just a little tear as I read this, Baino, even though you told us not to...

Ropi said...

Well, you said we shouldn't be sad about this but it is still a sad story. On the other hand 4th of June has a negative connotation in Hungarian History.

VE said...

Wonderful personal story! Thanks for sharing.

laughingwolf said...

oops, screwed up my comment, sorry :(

daughter came for breakfast just as i was posting...

anyhow, quite the tale, BAINO :)

Roy said...

What a fascinating story, Baino! That the clock stopped for four days is amazing, but yours isn't the first such story I've heard.

And River, we used to sing that song all the time when I was a kid; I think it's standard repertoire for elementary school choruses. I even thought of trying to find a version of it on YouTube for my own post.

e said...

Baino,

Thanks for sharing these bittersweet memories...

Enjoy your day!

Wings said...

Wow. Great post, so personal and meaningful. Thanks for sharing! :)

tut-tut said...

oh, Baino, of course I'm sad. What a brave and strong woman you are.

Bimbimbie said...

When I was younger I never liked to hear a ticking clock if I was in on my own. The ticking always seemed to grow louder and louder. I probably didn't appreciate the sound of an empty house. Now I love the first hour of the day, before the radio goes on and the world comes into my kitchen, just me and the ticking clock.

I too was reminded of Auden's poignant poem.

You're very readable Baino.

Baino said...

River, I thought of the song while I wrote it to be honest. Haven't heard it in a very long time.

I have one wall clock Grannymar, that the kids bought for me years ago but it's tick is almost silent and I don't wear a watch either, I'm surrounded by clocks as you say.

True Ronda . .we'd be ruled by the sun and I might get to bed earlier!

Don't often hear church bells in Aus Nick. . it is nice and soothing, except when they have bell practice at 9pm!

True Tony, those few days are completely off tap!

No worries foxy. Actually the clock didn't 'hold' the time of his death, but it did stop.

I always loved Grandfather clocks as a child but not so keen on them now. My gran used to have a mantle clock with a chime too so they're quite reminiscent for me rather than sentimental.

Ah you know me Brian, heart on sleeve and all that!

Really Ian? I find those few days between death and burial pretty hectic and noisy. . .except at night perhaps then the quiet is all pervasive. Although it was different when my Dad died to the other deaths in my family. We were quieter and resigned that's true.

MrsSupole, there are watch wearers and non watch wearers. Clare feels naked without a watch, I can't stand them . . 50/50 I'd say. I think they're more pieces of jewellery than timepieces these days.

Sorry Kate, it's probably implanted until the next 'memorable' song gets locked in there!

No worries Heather, like I said,a long time ago it just popped into my head when I saw the theme.

Thanks mouse. It certainly will be a family heirloom eventually and the search goes on. Hope you're recovered!

It was young Willow and I've never met a better man since frankly.

Thank you Nancy. Doesn't seem that long ago. When I heard that Tiennamin Square happened 20 years ago I palpably gulped! Was it really that long ago?

It's easy to write about what you know and experience Kat. He deserves to be remembered. God knows I forget all the time!

Leah I'll have to look that up. I have a vague memory of it too.

Ah Ropi, the Treaty of Trianon, see I am polishing up on my Hungarian history. The high price you pay when you lose a war. To the victor go the spoils.

On my way over to yours now VE! I'm banking on some merriment!

A little spooky eh Wuffa? What's for brekky?

Roy, odd things do happen when people die or maybe we're just more 'in tune' with things during such sensitive times. I remember singing it at school as well and I'm sure there were 'liturgical movements' to go with it!

e, seem to be doing bittersweet quite well this month!

Yeh well Wings, I'm a bit like that!

Not sure about brave Toots, but yeh, I'm strong 'ish!

Colette Amelia said...

My what a story thank you for sharing it. What a woman not too many who could go through that and be a plucky, strong optimistic soul who so much wisdom to share with such pizazz.

very powerful!

Michael Rawluk said...

That is a sad and strangely sweet at the same time.

Megan said...

How can I not be at least a little sad?

Even if it were fiction, it would still be an incredibly moving post.

You do have an amazing talent. You know that, right?

Baino said...

Frankly Collette I didn't have a choice. What doesn't kill you makes you . . .carry on!

Thanks Michael. Just don't look at my photography! I pale . . really!

Thanks hunny bunny but not really, I just write what's happened. Shit happens all the time! I just make it sound less pooey.

Candie Bracci said...

My grandfather was having about the same clock and it stopped at the time he died,impossible to make it go again after.True story.There's something about clocks.I haven't have time to partcipate in TT but I could have write about it too.In a way let me thank you cause you make me smile,thinking about my grandfather.Great post!

subtorp77 said...

This reminds me of something...I just can't place it! Sounds as if the clock's resuming time-keeping was maybe Ray's way of letting you know he was "okay" and now at peace. I know that may sound a bit off but 'tis not unusual.

Megan said...

"Just writing what's happened" is NOT EASY. Just sayin'...

lettuce said...

this is sad, even if so long ago - but how amazing.
and beautifully written

Kris said...

35? Far too young...