Saturday, August 21, 2004

The Clock

On Thursday, I went to Doylestown Hospital to get my ankle x-rayed. My ankle is still not 100%. I don't think I can quite manage to run from... say, home to first base. Walking Faithful Companion, I can manage to get up some speed by basically skipping, but I wouldn't want to do that down the baseline.

Doylestown Hospital is a good place. My stepmother always maintained that it was so clean and well run because the hospital is run by women. A group of concerned women of Doylestown got together over a century ago and built it from the ground up.

I didn't have to wait very long for the x-ray, and the next step is to see my doctor to get the results. After my long day at work, lying back on the table for all of a minute and a half was welcome.

Afterwards, I made my way back through the hospital to get to my parking lot. As I was passing through the (spotlessly clean) lobby, I saw the clock.


Y'see, even before the move to the new building, there was always a grandfather clock gracing the (spotlessly clean) lobby. I was born in Doylestown Hospital, and a couple of yers after that earth-shaking event, my mother started making regular trips there for what constituted treatment for cancer in the early 1960s. As this was back in the days before Same Day procedures, these often involved lengthy stays. When my father, brother, and sister would go to visit my mother, I'd stay in the lobby. (Children who were not patients were not permitted in the wards of the hospital, nasty little carriers of contagion that we were.) And I was fascinated by the clock. Comparitively, it was enormous. Towering. The slow swinging of the pendulum, the chimes on the quarter hour. And my mother, somewhere upstairs.

Oddly, I have almost no memory whatsoever of my mother. Her battle ended when I was three and a half. But I remember the clock.

Isn't that odd? I don't remember her, but I remember the clock.

And there it was. There was the clock. Still taller than me by about two feet, the swinging pendulum.

And there, above the face of the clock, is a painting, slowly turning behind a little window. It shows the sun and the moon and various astrological symbols, painted with faces. The expressions on the faces are cool, knowing, and serene. Slowly they turn, the sun appearing at the left in the morning, making its way to the right, and disappearing at the right hand side of the window in the evening, just as the face of the moon appears at the left side.

I loved the Borrower's books when I was a child, stories of a family, Pod, Homily, and Arriette, about an inch high, who lived on items they borrowed in a human house. They lived under the clock that stood in the hall, and thus their family name was Clock.

And in a picture book I had as a child telling the story of the Wizard of Oz, in a depiction of the witch's castle, was a man transformed into a clock by the witch.

Grandfather clocks.

And now, thirty-six and a half years later, there I stood, looking again at the clock. Looking at the cool, serene face of the sun.

For all the time I've been alive, that clock has been ticking away, the hands rounding the face, the pendulum swinging, the sun chasing the moon chasing the sun chasing the moon. On and on. The ceaseless march of time.

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