The Minnesota Farm Woman

Minnesota Farm Womanby Chris Quaal Vinson

The clock

Forty-five years ago, my mom purchased a mantel clock. I don’t remember if she saved money or saved Green Stamps to get it, but she loved that clock almost as much as she loved us. We couldn’t touch the clock except to gently dust it when it was our turn to wield the feather duster, and if you know kids, you know that happened as little as we could get away with. We weren’t allowed to move the clock, just to dust around it and on top, for fear that we would somehow knock it off the mantel and break it into a hundred pieces. Nobody wound that clock except Mom. Not my sister, not my father, and especially not me, whose middle name used to be “Oops!”. She wound it carefully and lovingly every other day by opening the door on the front, putting one hand on top to keep it from slipping, then placing the key into each of three holes, winding ever so carefully, just enough and not too much. I watched her do it so often that I could have done it in my sleep, but still wasn’t allowed to wind it until I was about 50 and even then she gave me step-by-step directions from her chair as she was recovering from surgery. I may have been 50, but in Mom’s mind I was 12 and still an accident waiting to happen. The chiming sound would be stopped when we had overnight guests, but the rest of the time, the gentle ticking and chime on the quarter-hour was the background music to the hubbub of ordinary family life, Cribbage games, and waiting for teenagers to come home. I’m sure that as each of us grew up and left home, the ticking seemed louder, but after my father died, the familiar sounds probably made the house seem not so empty. Last December, my beautiful mother started to fail. When nothing else could be done, she chose to spend her last days at home with her family, surrounded by what was familiar. Although these days were hard and we knew the time we had left together in this world was limited, it was also a joyous, memory-filled ending to a wonderful journey.The content you are trying to access is only available to members. Sorry.

Subscribe Now or Login