Monthly Archives: March 2016

Scary Adventure

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Did you visit this blog based on the title?  Well, it was meant to be salt for your literary appetite, but I hope no one thinks I invited you on false pretenses.  If you feel that way after you read this slice, just know that I honestly didn’t mean to do it.  And, I’m sorry.


It all started when I was a little girl and visited my grandparents.  (They loved me dearly, and I loved them, but I don’t think they understood how their words scarred my little-girl soul.)  “Have you gained five pounds?” they questioned when we would come to visit whenever Dad was stationed close enough.

I just didn’t answer.  Had I gained five pounds?  I don’t really know.  I didn’t think about my weight before these questions started.  

Then, the shopping for school clothes added to my shame.  “Where are the chubby girl sizes?” Mom asked the clerk.  I wish I were dead, I thought as my face turned a bright red.  It is so humiliating!  (Just so you know, my mom is about my best friend on the planet, and she didn’t think this was any big deal.  After all, if I couldn’t fit in the regular sizes, what was I supposed to wear?)

The final blow came in third grade. I remember it as clearly as if I was standing on the playground right now. These words, “Hey, Fatty!” cut me to the quick, seared in my mind. It is true.  I’m FAT!  How I hated myself!  From that day on, I started thinking of myself as FAT.  

After that fateful day and for so many days that followed, the image in the mirror

was hated.  Because of that self-loathing, all through high school, college, and beyond, I have been on an eternal battle with the scale-The Battle of the Bulge.   I was on the Grapefruit Diet, the Eggshell Diet, the Orange Diet, and whatever other crazy diet was out there.  A little success, but, in the end, failures.

In an effort to be healthier, I started going to Weight Watchers off and on from the time I was a senior in high school until now.  I lost 120 pounds!  Unfortunately, it has been the same 30-40 pounds over and over and over!  I lost the weight, kept it off for 3-5 years, and then snap!  You know, that something inside me said, “I am sick of weighing and measuring my food and never having the good stuff!”  Inevitably, that  30 or 40 pounds would slowly creep back on.  My inner self would be very cruel to me and say, “I knew you would gain it all back.  You can’t do anything right.  You are so fat!  What a terrible person,”  and so on.  My inner self was so much meaner to me than I would ever be to another person.  

Well, all that background is to get us to the scary adventure.  I made up my mind:  No more Weight Watchers!  This being stated, I think Weight Watchers is a great lifestyle that has helped many people, me included, over the years.   But from now on, I want to eat like a thin person.  You know, moderation, just a bite of this or a taste of that.  Healthy eating, but balance eating.  Unfortunately, sugar is my downfall; it’s like I’m addicted to it or something.  I haven’t been able to figure out a way to break that addition.  So, I was in a quandary.  Do I “diet”?  No way.  I’m done with that vicious cycle.  On the other hand, I’m not that happy with tight-fitting clothes.  What should I do to fit in my clothes again?  Of course, I joined another gym.  Not the same one I’ve been a member of for five years, because I was sick of the elliptical machine.  The same thing day after day so I joined a gym with free yoga classes, free spinning, and free Zumba!  Yea!  Variety.  On the flip side, if you have ever had to try to get rid of those extra pesky pounds, you know that going to the gym is not enough!  Boo!  Should I just accept  myself a little heavier?  But I don’t like how I feel when my clothes don’t fit, and I feel fat.  What should I do?

Well, low and behold, a friend of mine, about the same age, who also has a challenge with weight, started on a new-fangled way of eating.  What!  She already lost 10 pounds!  Hmm. I know what you think, a FAD.  I’m not sure.  I investigated the website. I bought the book. I am read the book. It is basic foods, no sugar, no dairy, no artificial anything for 30 days.  Thirty days, that isn’t forever.  What do I have to lose?  Maybe I should give it a try.  This book promises miracles will happen, of course. Don’t they all?  It promises, after 30 days, that a reset will happen in your body, including a sugar reset.  Well, now you know what the scary adventure is, don’t you?  I decided to give it 30 days, just 30 days.  Today is the end of Day 1.  Surprisingly, I feel very satisfied and no cravings.  Well, Day One is not Day 30, so only time will tell.  I’m scared, but hopeful, as I start on this next adventure to better health and freedom(?).  

I’ll let you know if I make it or not.

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Turning and Smiling

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Church, airport, haircuts, good-byes, and adventures…that is today.

I felt behind the power curve, even before I was dressed.  How will I fit everything in? How will I give special time to each of my children?  My twins, to be exact. How will I squeeze in church?  Even thinking that-squeezing in church-gives a pang of guilt.   Since today is Palm Sunday, I didn’t want to skip church.  Giving God first place is important to me, so I reviewed the possible schedule for today in my mind:  early service instead of 9:30, say good-bye to Maggie, give Davie a haircut, help him finish washing and packing, say a second good-bye, then… the slice, walking.

The early service wasn’t very full so I sat down at the back of the sanctuary, near the door so I could sneak out a minute or two early.  The sermon drew a connection between the life of Job and the life of Christ.  I admit, my mind kept losing focus…the children, the slice for the day, getting everything done.  I forced my thoughts back to the sermon.  My mind wandered to what it must have been like for Jesus to know that these crowds who were cheering him today would, in the next few days,  be shouting, “Crucify him!  Crucify him!”?  The closing song, the benediction-my signals to be ready to dart to the door and zoom across the parking lot to my car.

After a brief drive home, I pulled the car into the driveway and went into the house.  My daughter was “stylin’” in her black bowler and peasant shirt.  A true measure of her happiness, her chatter was like a melody filling the house.  Flitting around.  Zipping suitcases.  Checking a passport. Her joy bubbled out in her smiles and sparkling eyes.  The airport awaited and, at the end of her journey, her fiancé.  Life is unfolding before her.

In the midst of this activity, her brother appeared in the kitchen wearing baggy sweat pants and a muscle shirt.  “Are you ready to go?  Are you packed?” I asked.

“I need to put a few things in the dryer, but I want to go to the gym,”  he replied.  

“How long will you stay?”

“I will be back about 12.”

My heart felt like it was exploding with happiness.  I will be able to go the the airport with Maggie!  I’ll be able to be back by 12, too.  Yea!

The trip to the airport flew by.  My husband and I gave all the usual parental advice in between Maggie’s happy litany of dreamy expectations and hopes for her journey.  The car moved to the curb by the Delta drop-off.  Popping the trunk, my husband lifted the suitcases out.  Pictures.  Hugs.  Kisses.  My hand grabbed the handle of the purple suitcase, “I’m coming in until I know you’ve checked your bags.”  In we went.  Printing tickets.  Standing in line.  
“Put your bags here,”  the airline worker said.  Forty-nine pounds.  Thirty-eight pounds.  Whew!  Just right!  Not too heavy.  “Have a great flight.  You will be boarding at gate 4D,”  the worker added with a compulsory smile.  More hugs.  More kisses.  Then, smiling and turning, she walked toward her next adventure!

The traffic was light on the way home, no delays.  At five after twelve, we pulled back into the driveway.  Davey was already home.  I walked in, knowing my next task-cut hair. More conversation.  This time, it was calmer, asking for advice, last minute questions. “Just a trim, Mom,”  he said as he set down the scissors, comb, and buzzer on the kitchen table. One of the reasons I cut his hair is because he is so picky about it.  I trim.  He zips in the bathroom to check it in the mirror.  “What about his bump here, Mom?  Are there any straggling hairs?  Don’t forget to thin the top.  Do you think I’ll go bald?  Is my hairline thinning?”  So much mundane, everyday talk. Talk that I love.  How I’ll miss this!  How I’ll miss him!  

Picking up a few bags, I followed Davey out the front door, down the step, across the sidewalk.  More hugs.  More kisses-but only before his friend arrives to pick him up.  Even Gracie, the Golden Retriever, came to say goodbye.  Then, smiling and turning, he walked toward his next adventure.                                                       

 

 

 

                         How I’ll miss them!  How I’ll miss them!

Elevator Tryst or Lovers’ Quarrel?

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I hurried toward the elevator and pushed the button.  Only two minutes until I was to meet my friends at the check-out desk; I was running a little late, as usual.

Ding!  The elevator doors slid open.  The two startled occupants, standing closely and  face to face, hastily stepped apart.  Did I catch them in a kiss?  Are they newlyweds?  I stepped into the elevator, pulled my black suitcase behind me, and turned my back to the side of the elevator.  (I’m always wondering about things-so much so that my daughter answers my wonderings with, “I don’t know, Miss Marple.”)  My curiosity was peaked, of course, so I studied the two people without seeming to study them.

The young man, probably about 30 years old, had short dark hair.  With a mischievous grin on his face, his flirting eyes kept seeking out the eyes of the young woman.  Although his right hand was in the pocket of his khaki pants, his left hand was tensing and relaxing, tensing and relaxing.  No ring…hmm…not married.  The white, crew-neck t-shirt he wore was untucked in a relaxed, casual way.  It seemed to fit his personality, happy-go-lucky and playful.  It seems like flirting.  I hesitated to glance at the young woman standing beside me because I didn’t’ want to be too obvious.  The young man seemed to be almost laughing at her, daring her to look back, but  didn’t answer.

Ding!  The elevator door slid open again.  A tired looking businesswoman, thirty-ish, in a black pantsuit entered the elevator.  She turned her back to the opposite side of the elevator from me.  Her shoulder-length blond hair fell to her shoulders in soft “yesterday’s” curls.  She pulled her black suitcase to a stop in front of her and held a navy blue jacket in her other hand.  Her lifeless eyes, set in a pale, colorless face, stared wearily at the floor.  Why are elevators so awkward?  No one ever talks. I wonder if she is heading home?  

The shifting feet of the young man beside her drew my attention back to my original query.  He stepped about six inches toward the brunette at my side.  That silly grin was still on his face as if challenging the woman to something.  My eyes drifted to the floor. I guess I feel just as awkward in elevators as everyone else.  Blue jeans and black and white Nike shoes came into view.  I glanced up.  A baggy brown sweater hung casually on a slight, willowy frame.  Long and straight brown hair hung past her shoulder.   Her face was turned downward and she was staring at the floor.  Her arms were folded tightly, close to her body.  Her dark brows were knit closely together and a crease formed between them.  This doesn’t look like a lover’s glowing face.  Hmm…did they have a fight?  Or, is this just a ruse?  Was this just intended to keep others from suspecting their romantic rendezvous?

Ding!  The elevator doors slide open.  The brunette walked out of the elevator first, followed by the flirty man.  Next, the weary traveler left. I strolled out last, ruminating over the unsolved mystery.  Elevator tryst or a lovers’ quarrel?  

“Now I Can Read”

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I teach a reading intervention group with three fifth grade students.  There are a few things I really like about my group:

  1. This is one part of the day that I am in my own space and have “full control” of the teaching.  (As a literacy coach, I teach a communication arts block in another teacher’s classroom.)  
  2. One boy really wants to learn; it makes me happy.
  3. One day, my newest student came in, smiling, and said, “I got enough sleep because I’m staying with my mom now.”  (He was so tired previously that he could hardly stay away.  Poor kid.)
  4. I think it is fun and challenging.  Thinking about what tangles these little learners have and how I can help them untangle those knots is exhilarating.  I like puzzles.
  5. I can observe shifts in the students almost daily.

Number five is what I want to chat with you about today.  I get it that the work of an interventionist can be hard and discouraging, so small steps are worth celebration.  I invite you to celebrate with me and, maybe, to encourage you to keep on keeping on.  

Two of the students “read” beautifully if you call word calling, very expressively and accurately, mind you, reading.  I work everyday to instill in them a love of learning (by reading) and to teach them that reading is thinking.  

My daily mantra is, “What is reading? Reading is thinking.  If you are not thinking, you are not reading.”  That sounds so obvious to a reader.  This is not obvious to struggling, “I’m-reading-the-words-right” readers.  

“I’m an R,” brags the little girl to the two boys in the group.

Ugh!  Back I go to the mantra.  “What is reading?”

Reading is thinking.”

“How do you know you are thinking?”

“The teacher listens to you read?”

No! No! No!  “If you can’t remember what you read or tell someone what you read, you are not thinking.  And if you are not thinking, you are not reading,” I repeat again.  

Then, we read and discuss.  Read and discuss. I notice the readers are interested in the story.  I prompt for thinking.  “Where is the evidence to support your  thinking?”  They find the spot in the text.  We write about what we read.  We share what we write.  We comment on what the writer did effectively.  They smile.  We read and discuss.  They check to poster to see what the next book we’ll read is going to be.  Read and discuss. More sparks of interest.  I prompt for higher level thinking. They laugh.  We do a little word study.  We have a little fun.  We read and discuss.  And so it goes.  

Then comes the day the sun breaks through the clouds.  I receive an email from the special education teacher who did a BAS (Benchmark Assessment System) running record with the “I am an R” student.   “She is instructional on level S,” she reports.  “She received a zero on the “About the Text” (analyzing & critiquing) thinking, but she earned a 3 (full credit) on “Within the Text” (literal) and a three on “Beyond the Text” (inferential)  thinking.”  Yea!  This is a major shift for a girl who could not even retell what she had read in a single paragraph when she first came to our group!

Then, the sun shines a little brighter.  At the end of the quarter, another student grows from a reading level P to an S!  Yes! Yes! Yes!

Then, the day dawns, and the sun beams brightly in a cloudless sky.  The day that enthusiastic learner said, “I didn’t think I could read, but now I can.”  

 
Dear interventionist friend, Keep on keeping on!

A Vacuum, a Mouse, and a Boy

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It’s funny to me to think how long-forgotten memories slog out from my mind like a Creature from the Black Lagoon, emerging from murky waters.  Today,  a conversation-the retelling of a surprised teacher who screamed long and loud when an equally surprised mouse discovered he unintentionally had wandered out of the protection of cover into a big, scary classroom- became a key, unlocking a sequestered, cobwebby memory.  A memory of a vacuum, a mouse, and a boy…

Bong. Bong. Bong.  “Seven o’clock already,” I thought as I rinsed the suds from the boy sitting in three inches of water in the “duck bathroom” tub. “There’s still so much to do.”

“Time to get out,” I said cheerily to Johnny.  

“Mommy, I want to play boats,” came the reply.  “Vrmmm,”  a plastic motor boat swished through the bubbles.

“O.K.  Just a couple more minutes.”

Knowing I had to run the vacuum in the hall outside the bathroom door, I turned and tripped quickly down the stairs to get it.  Opening the door that led into the garage, my hands grabbed the handle of the old “hundred pound” Kirby and pulled it upward.  Klunk!  It landed on the 80s-style gold and brown linoleum in the foyer.  “Darn,” I said to myself, “I forgot to change the bag.”  Bending down, my fingers grabbed the zipper. Zip!  My fingers reached down to pull out the inner vacuum bag.  Suddenly, a startled, small gray mouse flopped ungracefully on the floor.   

“AAAHH!” I screamed, jumping back.

The tiny creature frantically looked around and, lickety-split, tiny mouse feet raced toward the open door.  Out he scurried, into the blackened garage.  

Bang!  I slammed the door shut.

Pitter-patter.  I turned toward the sound.  Down the steps hurried my butt-naked, dripping-wet son. “What the matter?”

“A mouse!  A mouse jumped out of the vacuum cleaner.”

Running toward me, eyes wide, he jumped up into my arms. I could feel his heart pounding a million times per second.  “I protect you, Mommy!” he promised.     

New Day Dawning

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       Today, I leave my home earlier than usual.  Surprisingly, the world is shrouded in a cloak of translucent fog.  A halo of silvery light surrounds the street lamps, giving an ethereal look to the quiet street.  Stillness tiptoes around our sleepy little town as if encouraging Day to linger in its bed a little longer than usual.   The hazy backdrop invites me to reflect on the beauty of the predawn morning.  How peaceful the world seems before the hustle and bustle of everyday life!  How it calls early-risers to think deep thoughts and ponder possibilities!  I like this peaceful time of day.  I marvel at the beauty all around me.  I think my deep thoughts and ponder possibilities for the fresh, awakening day.

Learning to Teach Writing by Slicing

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  • Writers are fragile
    • Writers take risks when they “publish” their writing.  They put heart and soul and sweat into their pieces.  They put a little bit of themselves out for the world to examine and handle and critique.  May each teacher’s words handle the writer with gentleness and care, remembering words can crush, words can uplift.  
  • Publishing is powerful
    • Writers need to publish their work for a “real” audience.  Writing is meant to be read.  Teachers need to give writers opportunities to share their published pieces: blogging, author’s chair, partner reading, letters that are sent to real people, etc.  Publishing brings power to writing!
  • Conferring is King
    • Conferring looks a little different in the SOL March Challenge, but everyone who comments on a slice is having a little conference with the writer.  Did my writing connect with the reader?  Was there a specific line that resonated with the reader?  Did the comment mention certain choice words?  The feedback a writer gets in conferring or in comments is energizing and helpful and spurs the writer on to keep writing.  Teachers need to lift the writer, not perfect the writing.  
  • The Hard-ness of Writing
    • I am a big believer in Writer’s Workshop.  My students write everyday.  Mini-lessons spur them on.  Conferences lift the writer.  Go workshop!  But NOW, I am in the trenches with them, writing everyday, although probably more than an hour.  My ah-a:  Writing is hard.  It is not easy.  It takes work and commitment and tenacity and time.  Is it worth it?  YES!  But teachers need to remember the hard-ness of writing.  
  • The “Workman’s” Writer’s Notebook
    • Writers who write everyday begin to see the world through the eyes of a writer.  Before I started slicing, I had a writer’s notebook;  it adorned my desk and came out to show students how to plant seeds.  Then, proudly, it returned to its place. After I started slicing, I have a “workman’s” Writer’s Notebook.  It isn’t fancy, sticking out of the side pocket of my purse.  Now, I’m a writer desperate for ideas, so when I see the streetlight shining through the fog like a soft, white halo, I grab my writer’s notebook and jot down the idea, trying to capture what I see.  When I hear a little snippet of dialogue, my pen flies across the page.  Now, when a memory flits through my mind, I think, “How could I express the essence, the emotion of it?”  Of course, out comes my pencil to scribble it down.  What a change from my “teaching” Writer’s Notebook.  
  • Borrowing Structure
    • I enjoy reading slices.  In fact, time flies when I start reading them.  Other slicers (I did, too) sometimes comment that the structure for their slides are borrowed from other writing friends who have posted their selections. Teachers need to help students know how to use structure as a way to generate new ideas.
  • Believe in Best
    • Teachers need to believe that writers are doing their best work.  Slices are the best work that the writer created at that moment in time.  Not one slice screams, “The writer didn’t try to do a great job.  She threw out junk.”  We need to keep the faith with our budding authors!  Believe they are doing their best.
  • The Rightness of Writing
    • Writing is worth it!  Everyone’s life is full of the stuff of stories.  Teachers need to help students understand this!  Writing gives the vehicle, the voice to those stories.  It is right to write!

 

 

 

The Little Engine That Could

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The classic children’s book, The Little Engine That Could, by Watty Piper, has been a favorite of mine through the years.  This book was first published in 1930 and has been a friend to generations of children.  So many times was our family copy read to our 6 children that it is literally falling apart.  It still sits proudly on the bookcase wearing its tattered pages as a badge of honor.  

Not only have my own children learned the lessons of hard work and optimism from the Little Blue Engine, my students have, too.  Sometimes, I read it at the beginning of the year as a way to set the tone for our classroom: we all can try, and when we try, we can learn and get better.  Sometimes, I read it on “Read Across America” Day. I like to pair it with another family favorite, The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes, by DuBose Heyward.  This classic, published in 1939, also teaches children about being kind and helpful and hardworking.  Even my fifth-grade students sat at my feet and listened to some of “my favorites”-as I explained to them.  

Since The Little Engine That Could is so well-known, I doubt I have to remind you of the famous phrase that the Little Blue Engine kept repeating as he worked and worked and worked to get up the mountain and over to the “good little boys and girls”  who needed the “good things to eat” and “toys to play with.”  I think I can!  I think I can! I think I can!  the unlikely hero repeated.

Well, on one of those early and beautiful days this spring, when the breeze begs you to open the car windows as you putt along, my window was indeed wound down.  I was driving up Pine Street, a steep hill in our neighborhood.  A man on a bicycle caught my eye. Standing up, his foot bore down on the pedal with his full body weight.  Even so, the bike struggled to maintain forward progress.  Adding to his load was a bright yellow, two-wheeled child carrier that trailed along behind the bike.  This dad, huffing and puffing, was giving his little son, a boy of about 3 or 4 years old,  an early spring ride!  The youngster’s tow head, happy smile on his face, peeked over the top of the carrier, and then, to my great surprise, a merry sing-songy voice floated on the breeze, “Think I can!  Think I can!  Think I can…”                                                                                                                                                                                  

  A laugh bubbled out of my mouth.  Apparently, another generation of children is learning the value of hard work and optimism!

A Little Bit Fit

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It all started December 25, 2015.  Christmas morning.

“A Fitbit!  Wow, Davey, thanks.”  One by one my children opened their present from their youngest brother.  They were pumped!  Each had received a Fitbit.  Even I had gotten one, but Santa brought mine.    

Now in our family, everything is a competition.  Who can win at mini-golf?  Who is the tallest?  Who had the fastest time in the 50-yard fly?  Who will win croquet?  Who can burp the ABC’s the best?  So, with the introduction of this best gift ever, a whole new level of competition was about to begin.  If you don’t have a Fitbit, you may not know that you can challenge your “friends” to competitions to see who gets the most steps.  You can invite others  or be invited, to compete in Goal Day, Workweek Hustle,  Weekend Warrior, or Daily Showdown.  Push the accept button, and you are in! On your mark, get set, go!

Well, I am competitive, too, (I wonder where they got it from?) even though I am their mother.  I like to try to stay in shape as much as the next one, but this has gotten more challenging as the years have slipped by.  I used to jog everyday…between pregnancies and sick children and life’s hiccups.  Now there are other challenges.  There is the job change challenge-interventionist/Reading Recovery teacher to Literacy Coach with all the additional training at Ohio State University.  That became a black hole where there was no light or fun or exercise or life for a year and a half. Then, there is the doctor’s challenge, “No more running.  Your knees can’t take it.  Try cycling.”  Now, there is the challenge of slicing.  Slicing sounds easy,  let’s face it, how hard is it to SLICE a piece of cake?  But, stories don’t just bubble out my fingers like water bubbles from a spring.  I have to painstakingly coax the slices out, word by word, sometimes letter by letter.   However, I digress.  

Back to the Fitbit.  I accept these challenges, and I still want to win.  Remember, my kids are all young adults-in college or working.  None have children yet.  Most have more freedom in their days than I do.  But, when I am invited, or invite them, to a Fitbit challenge for the day or week or weekend, I accept. The problem is that they run; I walk.  Classes take them all over campus; meetings keep me in a chair.  They have freedom in their schedules; I don’t.  But, that doesn’t really matter.  In spite of my handicaps, I still want to win the challenges.  I’m “in it to win it” so I am creative in getting a little bit fit.  In the morning, I put on my sneakers and walk to work.  (How do you carry all your teacher gear?  Ha! Ha!  My sweet hubby drives my briefcase and bags to school and drops them off for me!  I know, amazing!)  Even though one way only logs about 1800 steps, it’s better than nothing.  I have taken the doctor’s advice about riding bikes, and now, in summers, my husband and I easily rack up 100 miles a week on our bikes. (The wind in my hair and the “need for speed” is exhilarating!  I’m hooked.)  In the long and dreary winter, spinning is a sloppy second to riding outdoors, but I do it anyway.  The unfortunate Fitbit reality is that spinning doesn’t give me any steps.  Even though I leave class with wobbly legs and sweat-soaked clothes, I don’t earn any  steps.  NOT ONE!   Yoga is the same story. Warrior one, warrior two, up-dog, down-dog, pretzel positions, you name it-nothing.  No steps.  

So what’s a gal to do?  Give up?  No way!  A gal’s gotta get up and go, go, go.  Now, I spin and walk on the treadmill.  Now, it’s yoga and  a walk after school.  Now, I park in the back forty and walk a little farther.  Now, when Nature calls, I go to the bathroom by way of a lap around the school  A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do to get a little bit fit.


By-the-bye, I occasionally win!  My kids are keeping young and a little bit fit.

The Grandfather Clock

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Tradition ties us to the past.  Traditions are important and so are the things that link us to those who came before us.  I don’t like old things just because they are old, they have to have personal meaning…  

Today, I heard the soft bongs of the grandfather clock that stands in our foyer.  The chimes don’t gong harshly like a younger clock who hasn’t seen generations of children live, breathe, and grow.  It bongs softly like a patriarch with fading voice; like a centenarian who has witnessed births and deaths, joys and sorrows, war and peace.  

This clock has history.  Having been purchased  by a my husband’s great-great-great grandfather William, this stately grandfather clock was carefully crated and loaded on a ship that traveled around Cape Horn in 1846.  That ship dropped anchor in Port of Philadelphia where the unloaded crate was transported to Irishtown (later known as Canonsburg), Pennsylvania.  There it found its spot, tick-tock, tick-tock through the days and weeks and months and years.     

There, in that sacred spot, it steadily, slowly ticked off the seconds, the minutes of each day.  It stood in that spot until the policeman pounded on the door, entered with sombre mien and saddened eyes to relay the tragedy.  A lorry, top-heavy and speeding, rounded a curve fast, tipping, toppling over, crushing a Model A convertible and killing the grandfather of my husband.  The eyes of the son (my husband’s father) could not look at that harbinger’s face on that fateful day so looked, instead, into the face of the faithful clock.  But something changed that day.  The faithful clock-friend became one with the memory of that tragic day.  No more did  the son love the clock; he hated it.  Hated it so much that upon his wedding day, he gave it to his bride’s family.  Get it out of my life; out of my memory.

Tick-tock, tick-tock.  A generation passed.  Times changed.  The clock went to the son’s home once more.  Angry words.  “I don’t want it!” shouted the son.  “But I do,” the wife persisted.  So it came to be that the clock came to live in the son’s home once more. It came to live in the son’s home in California.  

Tick-tock.  Tick-tock.  The water in the pool seemed troubled early that day in 1972.  The pictures on the wall began to shake.  The walls began to sway.  The boy of the son (my husband) felt his bunk bed roll.  What’s going on?  His eyes flew open.  The clock!  My clock!  His hand grabbed the covers and threw them back.  His feet hit the floor; one foot, then the other moved across the carpeted floor.  Running toward the living room, his hands landed on the half-wall that divided the living room and hallway.  His eyes were drawn to the clock as iron is to a magnet.  As if in slow motion, the clock was falling, falling, falling.  Pushing himself up with his arms, the boy, with super-human strength, vaulted the wall, held his breath, and lunged forward with arms outstretched. Would he be there in time?  Would he catch the clock?  Already halfway to the floor, the clock miraculously landed in his reaching arms.  Loving hands gently restored the clock to its spot.  

Tick-tock.  Tick-tock.  That boy grew to be a man, moved away.  That man married a young woman, had a family.  The faithful clock stayed in California, but the clock belonged to the boy-man.  So the clock was crated and shipped.  Now the clock lived in a new home, a home that welcomed him with open hearts. Tick-tock.  Tick-tock.  The clock slowly and steadily marked the passing of hours and days and weeks and years.  Bong!  Bong!  Bong!  The clock is watching another generation of children play, grow, and move away.

The soft bongs remind me of the passing of time-joy and sorrow, love and laughter.  The soft bongs remind me that this clock links us to the generations that have come before us and to generations yet to come. Someday, the clock will be crated and sent to another son of another generation.  Tick-tock. Tick-tock.  Tick-tock.