The house had been in disorder for months. Nothing messy, mind you, but it would have been apparent to even the most casual observer that something was afoot. Something was planned. A wedding was planned.
Plans cannot exist apart from time and weddings, especially, are slaves to a schedule that controls the makers. Invitations are sent out and acknowledgements, first in a flood, then in a trickle, are recorded and checked off against a list. When planning first begins, the calendar rules. It is consulted for the actual date and it supplies all of the dates upon which the event depends. As the actual day approaches, the calendar gives over to the clock and the pace accelerates from days to hours to minutes. Clocks, unmindful of the commotion while controlling it all, talk to each other as they settle the hours in their own terms. It is an odd fact that the more clocks a house has, the less likely it is that one will find the correct time.
This house, in particular, had more than its share of clocks to observe the proceedings. Wall clocks, mantel clocks, and a conservative grandfather ticked, chimed, struck and creaked among themselves; sounds the residents no longer heard. Visitors always noticed them. Their eyes would dart fitfully about as the hour approached and first one clock, and then another, would count off the hour. Guests rarely overstayed their welcome as the clocks politely reminded them of the time, especially at midnight.
One clock in particular was closely associated with the wedding. It was an unassuming wall clock, an American-style regulator of the type that adorned the walls of numerous schools and businesses at the turn of the century. It had hung for a time in the kitchen, but made a poor showing, its case in disrepair and generally in need of a good facelift. It finally was banished to the workshop in anticipation of that facelift and counted out the hours in isolation.
Clocks do not lack patience and will continue to fulfill their function long after other mechanical devices have fallen silent. It is their punishment as well as their reward. Other circumstances might have doomed the clock to years of neglect, but its strike one day, an awkward, unpleasant gong, set it apart for a moment. Long enough to set the resolve to restore it as a special gift.
There had been tensions in the house and the clock was intended as a personal wedding gift. The giver meant to give of himself as an assurance of the love so unsparingly given years ago on a warm June afternoon half a world away. Its restoration a sign that a strained relationship had been restored. Its presence, which cannot be ignored, a reminder of a father’s love and care.