time for old father

time clock

My old dad presented us with a clock recently.

It is the third timepiece he’s tendered in as many years.

We had a fair inkling of what was coming because of the telltale tools and little parts strewn over the sunroom table as the clock was painstakingly dissected to find out why it didn’t tick.

The first clock, which he gave us not long after he was diagnosed with prostate cancer, was of the traditional German cuckoo variety.

It had been been in a poor state when he recovered it from junk in a shed.

He carefully carved a new leaf to replace one that was damaged, fashioned a new pendulum, cleaned and oiled the chains and their pine-cone weights so the whole thing ran like well … clockwork.

The second offering – following a minor stroke – was a squat, utilitarian post-war mantel clock in which he had replaced the broken chime rods so the bells tolled anew.

But by far the loveliest is the latest of the trio.

A walnut parlour clock with silver nickel hand-painted glass door, it was made by the Ansonia Clock Company in the 1890s.

It has a rich, soft gong which counts out the hours with loving exactitude until you forget to wind it so it starts trying to tell you still have all the time in the world when really it’s far too late.

But the sound is so visceral, so deeply sure and true as it rolls through the house in the dead of night it’s like your heart won’t listen to what your head is telling you.

This clock came not long before the bone scan.

As my dad disappeared into the Stargate of the nuclear medicine department I picked up a magazine from the waiting room and experienced my own time warp.

I flicked through the pages: Maggie T had shed 5 kilos but was yet to lose Richard Zachariah; John Travolta’s son Jett was still a baby; Hilary Clinton was about to become First Lady; Jeff Kennett still ran Victoria and Felicity was standing by him; Liz Taylor was still married to Larry Fortensky; and A Country Practice was still on TV.

The magazine, though in astoundingly good nick, was two decades old. Where did the years go?

The results of the scan came back yesterday.

The cancer has mestastized to the bone with little radioactive “hotspots” showing up all over the place.

Tick … tock, unbidden the thought strikes: Will there be time for another clock?


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