“What greater thing is there for two human souls than to feel that they are joined—to strengthen each other—to be at one with each other in silent, unspeakable memories.” George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans)
“Grandma, do you want to see my room,” he asks as I walk into his house. He pulls me by the hand, urging me forward.
He likely wants to show me the latest gaming gadget his parents have given him.
I’m always happy to oblige him. He’s a whirl of activity and interests and I’m his grandmother. Of course, I’m interested in every single thing he says, does, and is passionate about.
When we enter his room, I see an unmade bed. Of course I would. I’m a neat freak. A memory comes back of my son when he was my grandson’s age. We had visitors for dinner. One person hadn’t taken off his shoes as he entered the house.
“My mom likes it when people take off their shoes when they come in,” he’d said. And I remember thinking; man my idiosyncrasies are being passed down.Why can’t I focus on what’s important, the company, the event? Are my obsessions the only thing my son will remember of me?
As we enter his room, my grandson smiles and points to a wall just to the left of me.
A wooden clock sits alone as if in a place of honour. He’d chosen the clock the other day: the day before the garage sale, the sale that emptied a house brimming with memories and as my son has said many times, a house full of love.
“I knew I had room for it,” he says. “I didn’t want it to go anywhere else.”
I swallow hard, fighting to stay in control. These days, I never know when the tears will come and I certainly can’t show so much sadness to an eleven year old.
“And look at this, Grandma.” He points to yet another clock. This one small, made of onyx. It sits on the table next to his bed. “The small arm broke and I can’t fix it, but I keep it here anyway.”
“Show it to Pappou. He might be able to fix it.”
He runs up the stairs, clock in hand. This gives me a minute to gather my emotions, stare at the old wooden clock I’ve known since I was a kid. I picture it on another wall, in another house, now both bare.
Like their great grandson, my parents loved clocks. There were several at one time in the house, all chiming with unique sounds and of course, at different times. My father could never synchronize them. They drove me batty when I was a kid, waking me up at all hours of the night. They have now fallen silent in my parents’ house. I look for them, listen for them. Find and hear nothing.
“Keeping them running gives me something to do,” my father had said when I’d asked him about his clocks years later. “And they remind me of your mother, where we were when we bought this one or that one. They don’t just mark the passing of time. They keep me company.”
Now all but this wooden one sit in different houses, the homes of strangers. I’ve convinced myself they will be used and loved again by yet another generation of clock lovers, people who will remember how a teary-eyed woman told them the story of the clock they were about to purchase, where her parents were when they’d spotted the clock.
My grandson runs into his room. I’m still sitting on the floor staring at that old clock. He has the other one in his hand. “Pappou couldn’t fix it,” he says. “But it’s okay. I’m going to keep it here on my table. It’s something from great grandpa’s house. I will always remember him and how he made it work.”
Me too, I think and hope I will be remembered too, idiosyncrasies and all.
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