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Hands of Time

Dad took care of everything around our house, from setting the clocks to tending the garden. What would we do without him?

An old clock on the mantle
Credit: Terraxplorer

My dad was a very methodical man. Once he retired, every morning he’d get up, take a shower, prepare a breakfast of cereal and coffee, and then draw up his to-do list for the day. The house and the 11 acres of property it sat on needed constant upkeep.

In the summer he planted and tended the garden (keeping the squirrels out was a constant battle). In the winter he made sure the pile of logs for the wood-burning stove never got too small. Even at daylight savings time, he’d make sure to reset every clock in the house, from the digital one on the microwave to the old mantle clock he’d bought Mom on their 15th anniversary.

Dad never let a task slip from his mind. If it was on his list, it got done.

In late October 2006, Dad was hospitalized with a serious illness. He passed away in mid-November. Mom and I walked through the house after the funeral in a daze. It always seemed like without Dad, this place would fall apart. What would we do now?

I looked at the clock. An hour ahead. Dad never had the chance to reset them from daylight savings time to standard time.

Together, Mom and I managed to fix every clock except for one—that anniversary chime. It was a challenge—the chimes needed to match perfectly with the numbers on the face of the clock or it would ring out the wrong number of chimes on the hour. Just as we began our attempt, we heard a loud pop and all the lights went out.

Great. I thought. This place is already falling apart without Dad.

It took the electric company about 40 minutes to come and hook us back up. We were in no mood to work on the clock. “Let’s just wait until tomorrow and try again,” I said to Mom.

The next morning—pop! The power went out again. Thankfully, the electric company responded in half the time it had taken them the night before. With the lights back on we started getting ready for the day. A loud, musical sound broke the silence.

The anniversary chime—now set to just the right time.

Dad may not be here anymore, I thought, but someone is still taking care of us.

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