My parents have an antique, granddaughter clock that has always hung in the stairwell, between the first and second story of my childhood home. I love the sound it makes when it tick-tocks. The pendulum swings back and forth, sometimes sounding achy and arthritic. I love the reverberation in the stairwell, when the clock chimes and strikes the hour. Every now and then it will wind down, the ticking, and celebration of time passing, ceasing to exist. Sometimes it takes a while to notice the absence of the tick. An hour, maybe two, comes and goes without notice. That is when the winding happens. Whoever realizes that the clock has stopped, usually my father, turns the little knob on the face and you can hear the gears, loudly grinding backwards in protest, to start work once again.
The tick-tock reminds me of the peaceful moments of my childhood. Like when I woke up early from a nap but lay silent in my bed waiting for my mom to come get me. It ticked away the hours as I quietly played with Barbies, read my favorite novel for the third time, or did my Biology homework in the middle of the night after everyone else was asleep. Friends that slept over did not always enjoy the fanfare of the late night hours, as it often woke them. But to me it was comfort. If the clock had wound down, something crucial was missing.
At 18 I moved to New York City for college, and the first decade of adulthood, leaving the analog clock behind for a world quickly becoming digital. I missed the ticking and the commemoration of the hours as they passed. Even regular analog clocks still only ticked. No tock.
I had a life threatening disease that reared its ugly head halfway through my time in New York. I called my mom, often scared and frustrated, with my rapidly declining health. If she was at home, and it was quiet enough on my end, I could hear the clock ticking in the background. It reassured me that time ticked on. As much as I felt like I was frozen in the impossible moments, like a clock that needed to be wound, I would not be stuck in that moment forever.
Timekeeping is frequently taken for granted, with digital clocks that only need to know the time zone to set themselves. It is much easier to lose an hour or three in cyberspace without a chiming clock to remind people of life in the real world. I found out recently, that my father saved the clock from my childhood neighbors that no longer wanted the broken down timepiece. He fixed it, and made it to count the time once again. I have since moved back home, to recover and rebuild my life. My gears have been oiled and wound, and I’ve been brought back from the achy, frozen, years of disease. I am happy to have the tick-tock back. The chiming of the clock now tells me I am in a better place than before. Someone finally came along and sent me reluctantly backwards, until I started to tick once again, happy to make it through another hour, stronger and healthier than the hour before.