It always sat on a shelf in the corner and marked the passage of time.
When Grandma put me to bed on her couch in the living room
with the crocheted pillows and a patchwork quilt...
…I would lie awake in the dim light and listen to its steady ticking.
Grandma and Grandpa were often my babysitters
…so I was there when the clock was opened for its weekly winding
…with the big brass key.
Even then the hourly chiming was erratic.
Grandma said it rang twenty times when Uncle Ralph came home after his tour of duty in the South Pacific.
When Grandma and Grandpa died the clock went to Uncle Ralph. When he was gone it ended up at my younger brother’s house. He had no recollection of its history so he passed it on to me. By then the hands were broken and the gears wouldn’t move.
After my mom was gone I took it to a clock smith for repair.
He replaced the hands and got it to keep time, but he never could get it to strike the correct number on the hour.
Now when the minute hand nears the twelve, the gears grind and it clangs out some random number and returns to its muffled tick-tock.
At some earlier time the original pendulum was replaced by another that’s a little oversized.
The clock has to sit slightly off the level to keep the pendulum from hitting the glass door.
The top of our old piano is warped just enough to accommodate the problem.
in December of 1907. That makes it over one hundred years old.
So I’ll forgive it for not being precise about the hour.