I’ve had a chiming wall clock for about 40 years. It’s made of mellow dark wood with a smooth black face and gold Roman numerals. Below its round face, a brass pendulum swings back and forth inside of a wood-encased, glass-fronted enclosure with a gracefully curved bottom.
It’s a sturdy piece, nothing fancy or curli-cued, but it looks like quality. It’s probably the nicest thing I’ve ever bought for the house. A classic that has stood the test of time. But it’s been silent for 30+ years.
I was a young wife when we bought it, feathering our nest little by frustratingly little, making do for the most part with snap-together book cases and day-bed sofas; multi-purpose items that our little ones couldn’t destroy.
My then-husband and I came upon the clock one week-end at an old cigar-factory turned specialty mall. I wasn’t looking for a clock, but I fell in love with it. That simple. It was a luxury we couldn’t afford with three young mouths to feed, of course.
But the salesman must’ve been good at his job, selling the workmanship and mesmerizing us, or at least me, with its mellow tone. I don’t remember whether my husband reluctantly agreed to let me have it, or if he liked it as much as I did. At any rate, it ended up accompanying us proudly home, and I hung it on our living room wall in a deserving spot, relishing the delicious, not too-soft, not-too-loud chimes. Just the right pitch, delicate and relaxing as it rang out the hours and half-hours.
But somewhere along the way from then to now, the pendulum stopped swinging and the clock was silenced. Maybe I decided it might wake a napping baby when little #4 came along. From then on, it was decorative only, stripped of its function.
It moved from home to home with me, elegantly displayed in each of the homes I owned after I became an independent woman, and all the little ones grew up and left home, but it never chimed again.
One of the grown up little ones came back to live with me. And one day he said to me, “The clock isn’t broken.” “What clock?” I asked. He took me into the living room and showed me the chiming clock, its pendulum swinging gracefully back and forth as if it’d never stopped. I thought, “Oh no, it’ll wake me up at night,” but said nothing, feeling good inside myself that this thing from my past had been given life again, its function restored. A resurrection story, sort of.
Soon, I heard it chime for the first time in all those years, and I was delighted to hear this sound from my past coming alive again, perfectly timed, without missing a beat. Not muddled like my past, but clear and beautiful and precise. The tones seemed to emit something wise, like the vibration of a Buddhist singing bowl or a gong. There was a Zen quality to my wise, patient old clock. If it could talk it might’ve said, “Ah, I’m back again, what a long rest I’ve had…”
I love hearing it chime. I heard it ring at 2am the other night, a distant soothing sound in the dark. And during the day, it gently reminds me of where I’m at in the scheme of things. “It’s 5:00 already,” or, “Getting close to bedtime…” It’s a comforting presence, keeping us on track and providing a gentle rhythm throughout the day.
I don’t know what possessed my son to bring it back to life. He’s curious, probably wondered why it wasn’t chiming, and if he could fix it, and was probably surprised to learn that it wasn’t really broken. Just needed a hand tightened, the pendulum re-hung and a new battery. I’m just glad he’s curious and glad the beautiful old clock is chiming away again. I hear it now. Time for bed.