Living at Brant Lake during the pandemic has not been a constructive time. Although I have read a small library of books and taken walks on deserted country roads I have spent many days just waiting. Waiting for the pandemic to end. Waiting to return to a more normal way of life. There has been a strange sense of unreality that pervades my days. My normal routine has ended. I am facing a hiatus in my life–a time of not doing. Thus I am reminded of an incident in my family history that involves time and a clock.
Shortly after my parents were married in the 1930’s they purchased an antique wall clock, a grandfather clock made by the New Haven Clock Company. The clock, a banjo style, featured a brass American Eagle mounted on top of a painting on glass of old-fashioned clipper ships sailing on a blue sea. The hands and chimes were wound every seven days with a key stored within the clock works. For decades the clock hung prominently above the dining room table and every seven days needed to be rewound; although, in later years, exhausted from too many ticks and the like number of tocks the clock required a six-day winding cycle.
The minutes passed. Then months and years. Eventually my father’s life ceased although the clock continued to beat strongly. My mother moved to a small apartment where, because of the tight surroundings, the sound of the clock assumed a dominant presence, especially since the chimes rang on the half-hour and the hour. Once at one o’clock, 12 times at noon or midnight. Health care workers rebelled at the 12 chimes at midnight. Finally, those administering to my mother set down an ultimatum: “Either you silence the clock or our time with your mother ends.” Perhaps the warning was less harsh but on one sad day I stopped the pendulum at 11 o’clock, reflecting briefly on how quickly time can be stopped!
Silence reigned until my mother died. Then, I reset the clock, wound the hands and with scotch in hand relaxed, anesthetized by the reassuring tick-tock, tick-tock. Unfortunately, after less than a day, the clock slowed until it ceased altogether. Ironically at 11 o’clock. Assuming the clock was simply out of shape I scurried off to a clock doctor who carefully examined the timepiece and solemnly pronounced his verdict. “Broken.”
Defending the family heirloom I explained I had stopped the clock two years before and related the details. The repair man looked at me over his wire rim glasses, a scowl covering his face and with a gruff reprimand announced: “Don’t you know you can’t stop time?”
Sufficiently rebuked, I vowed never again to arbitrarily stop the hands of time. Unfortunately, the pandemic has done it for me!
Now I am facing the challenge of rebuilding my life. Pandemic be damned! And this I know, time never stops and whatever time is granted to us we need to flow with the current. If we are wise we will evolve with the minutes, the hours, the days and the years.
The words of the clock doctor still reverberate–“Don’t you know you can’t stop time!”