The clock belonged to MSB’s father. He passed away five years ago, more of just plain old age than anything. In fact, the way we’d found out he was even close to being sick was because he’d had a hard time swinging his partner at a community dance. He was in his early 80s. It was scary for awhile; he’d suffered from a ministroke, and the doctors had to “roto-root” his one of his arteries. They also had to put several stints in to keep his heart nourished.
He didn’t mind moving from his house into the nursing home, where they had a 42 game going every day. The man loved his dominoes, and he was a social animal, so he enjoyed communal living. Eventually he became weaker and at 87, he passed on.
As always happens, the family went in and divided out years worth of property, saved treasures, discarded curious things they wondered why he’d kept. This mantel clock was one of the things we brought home from the old house. The glass was virtually opaque with dust and age, the wood grimy, the inner workings didn’t work. It’s not an antique. All it needed was a good cleaning and a new battery–which I gladly supplied. It keeps great time.
But I never could get the pendulum to swing like it was supposed to. Five years, and the pendulum didn’t swing.
Until I got diagnosed with breast cancer earlier this year.
Can you imagine what that does to a writer’s mind?
Sometime soon after the diagnosis, MSB mentioned that it was swinging. I’d just dusted the mantel the Monday before and it hadn’t been swinging then. Now it’s rocking back and forth with a speed that seems too fast, too urgent, like some morbid reminder that time is running out. I find myself checking it sometimes to make sure it’s still swinging, as if I’m almost afraid for it to stop. It will, of course. The battery will die, and the pendulum will take its last trek from left to right, and I imagine, when I see it eerily motionless, I’ll place a hand over my heart to assure myself it’s beating.
All this is ludicrous, I know. The surgeon got the cancer out, the margins are clean, and my future looks bright. Only God knows how much time I have left, so I shouldn’t allow an inanimate object to serve as a premonition, to interpret its movement–or lack thereof–as an omen. And when I’m out of writer mode, I don’t. It’s just a clock that needs to be dusted on a regular basis.
But when I wear my author’s cap, I watch the pendulum swing and wonder how the story will end.