On the mantel over the fireplace in my in-laws’ living room sits an eight day clock. This clock belonged to my husband’s grandmother and she had had it for many years before she died at the age of 97. For the past twenty or so years since her passing, it has kept time on the mantel in her son’s house.
An eight day clock is just that. It is engineered to keep accurate time for eight days and then it stops. Unlike the clocks of today, the older clocks required regular winding, and so it was that every Sunday, before going to church, my father-in-law wound the clock. He took great care to wind it just tight enough,
but not to over-wind it, for this would result in breaking the mechanism. This clock requires the winding of the mechanism which controls the keeping of time and a second mechanism which controls the chiming of the bell.
It was with great love and devotion that Bud wound this clock each week. He never made a big deal about it, and yet, he never left for church without making sure he had taken the time to tend to this labor of love.
On August 23, 2006, a Wednesday, my father-in-law went into the hospital to have stents implanted, to help with blood flow through his heart. Upon performing the catheterization, the doctors determined that stents were not an option. He would have to have open heart surgery and would not be allowed to go home while he awaited the surgery. The surgery would be performed the following Monday, August 28, 2006.
Of utmost concern to Bud was the fact that the clock would not be wound. He worried about that clock. My mother-in-law, my sister-in-law, and my husband all assured him not to worry. He could wind it again when he returned home after his surgery. All would be well. He tried to tell them how to wind it. He wanted them to wind it in his absence, but they assured him, it could wait.
As those of you who have read my blog entries in the past know, my father-in-law passed away on August 30, 2006 due to complications of the surgery. He never had the opportunity to wind that clock again.
One of the most moving moments in the aftermath of his passing was the afternoon after his funeral. As we sat in the living room, our attention naturally drifted to the clock. Its hands had stopped at 9:37. My husband asked his mother, “Do you want me to wind it?” She said she would very much appreciate his doing so, and we all set about looking for the key, and the method by which the clock should be wound. My mother-in-law repeated the caution she’d heard Bud mention over the years,
“Don’t wind it too tight.”
In a few minutes, the clock was, once again, keeping accurate time. Everyone returned to the business of trying to figure out what to do next.
It is a little thing like this, a seemingly unimportant labor of love, that we suddenly miss when our loved one passes on. And in this case, each week, as my mother-in-law winds this clock, she carries on her love for her husband and his for his mother, in the simple keeping of time.