Time in Stitches
The tick seems louder. The clock on the wall of my office once hung on the wall above the breakfast bar between the kitchen and dining room in my childhood home. It’s a wood-framed clock with a two-paned glass door and the face of the clock is embroidered. I’m sure it was made from a kit of some sort that my Mom probably found in a catalog or saw in a craft store, she was always embroidering or knitting something.
I remember watching Daddy assemble the wood and stain it at his workbench in our basement. He took the cloth with Mom’s embroidering on it and stretched it across the frame, securing it with his staple gun. Somehow he connected the thin black metal filigree hands of the clock through the cloth and into the battery-operated mechanism in the back. He drove one screw into each side of the back of the frame and then strapped a thick wire he had wound with black electrical tape to the screws and voila! A clock was born. I was so intrigued.
Daddy brought his ladder in from the garage to hang the clock in our dining room and I watched him from the living room floor. We had what was called a split-level house, so when he climbed the ladder and started measuring, I dashed up the stairs and lay down on my stomach on the living room floor so I could be eye-level with the clock’s new home.
He knocked on the wall horizontally for a few minutes and I giggled. What was that all about? Then he measured, and measured and then measured again. Finally he marked the spot where the clock should go with one of the automatic pencils he kept in his pocket protector (those of you related to engineers will know what those are). Once the clock was hanging on the wall, Daddy pulled out this orange bar thingy with a florescent yellow bubble inside a vertical tube. He set it on top of the clock frame and moved the clock ever-so-slightly at the bottom until that bubble was smack-dab in the middle. Such fuss over hanging a clock! I was no longer intrigued.
The numbers on the clock were Roman numerals stitched in black thread, which I’m sure was what the pattern called for, since Mom followed patterns precisely without deviation. A lovely design of what I think is ivy or some type of foliage surrounds the face of the clock and then a few inches below is an embroidered basket of red flowers. A wood-framed door protects Mom’s handiwork. It has a large square glass pane around the face and a smaller rectangular pane over the basket of flowers.
My place at the dining room table faced that clock. For decades I stared at it, never quite sure what time it was. Not because I didn’t comprehend the relationship of the hands to the numbers, but that the hands and the numbers were both black and, being near-sighted, couldn’t tell the time without my glasses (which I always “forgot” to wear).
Still, it didn’t matter to me what time it was. What that clock meant to me reached beyond a simple device for measuring my minutes and hours; it was a piece of art that my Mom and my Daddy made together with their own hands.
Now it hangs in my office, ticking away while Chopin plays softly through my laptop speakers and I type these stories to you about my wonderful parents. The tick seems more pronounced hanging on my wall than it did on their wall. Maybe it’s because my childhood drama is gone. Maybe it’s because Daddy is gone and Mom is no longer able to follow a pattern. Whatever the reason, time seems to be like those stitches behind the glass-paned door of that clock, each carefully pulled through the cloth of my heart; each combining into a number that gets larger than the one before it.
Oh, the big hand still rushes around in a circle, dragging the smaller, reluctant hand along with it, but I still ignore them both; and yes, the ticking is louder. Nonetheless, the hands that crafted it are what I see and its tick, tick, ticktells me that only minutes separate me from those who no longer need a clock.