Tick Tock

Over fifty years ago my father in law had a construction accident which left him with two broken feet. He elected to spend his immobilized summer building things. Two of his major accomplishments during that period were matching grandfather and grandmother clocks. The latter took up residence in the home of one of his daughters, while the grandfather has continued to chime faithfully all these years in his own home until a couple of weeks ago

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As my in-laws aged, they began discussing with their children how their possessions would be divided with respect to the desires of each child. My husband laid claim to the grandfather clock. We discussed how gorgeous we thought it might look in our foyer someday.

Some day came much sooner than I originally anticipated. A couple of weeks ago my husband went to visit his parents, and while there, his father insisted he take the clock home with him. I tried to protest, but we were overruled. The clock arrived. It’s not that I didn’t want the clock- its that I didn’t want the clock while his parents were alive. It didn’t feel right to me. But it came home to live with us anyway.

Ben noted that he thought he started immediately sleeping better because it was a familiar sound of his childhood. But my initial reaction to the clock is that it weirded me out a bit. It has a loud chime to begin with and in our two story open foyer, it bellows. After a few days I started to get used to the sound and didn’t seem to notice it as much.


Until my mother in law died suddenly last week. Ben left town to be with his family and the boys and I remained behind. The emptiness left by the news of his mother, and his own presence seemed to be filled at once by a loud clanging clock. It sounded almost haunting, or at very least taunting. I wanted to make it stop, but I didn’t know how.

Ben returned for a day and then we all left again for the weekend to attend a memorial for his beautiful and incredibly wonderful mother. It was of course, difficult and sad, and yet at the same time affirming as people told many wonderful stories of her life. I am her only daughter- in law, and that affords me a relationship unique in its own right. While I was grieving inside I spent most of the day trying to hold it together. I cried briefly as we pulled away from his parent’s house, but it became clear this was upsetting to my children and so I again mustered up a stiff upper lip.

At least until I got home. I walked in, went straight to my bedroom and let out every sob I had previously held in. I cried for her. I cried for me. I cried for my children and my husband. I cried for my father in law. I cried until I had no more cries. And then out of sheer exhaustion, I called it a night.

The next morning I woke up feeling an enormous release of all the previous week’s tension. But something else happened as well. The clock chimed its now familiar chime. The same chime as the week before. Only starting that morning, and still continuing, the sound is no longer foreign or disturbing. Rather, it is beautiful and rich. And strangely comforting, like the familiar and regular beating of life itself.

Last week I wrote about the difference between acceptance and resignation. The clock in our house has not changed. But I clearly moved from one place… resignation… to another… acceptance.

I will be on vacation next week, and thus, will not be posting a blog on 3/19.

Until next time… Take good care.

4 thoughts on “Tick Tock

  1. Mary, I am so sorry to hear of your loss. I just went through this myself. Sending lots of hugs.

  2. funny how the same ole same ole has such a different look when we allow ourselves to see the bigger picture. Allowing ourself to stop & ponder consciencely or not, the difference in something gives us the opportunity to see it from a different prospective that was in the shadows waiting for the opportunity to shine forth.

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