The Grandfather Clock

by Debbie L. Kasman in

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I spent Thanksgiving with my family on my parents’ one-acre property in the country.  My dad was born in the house where my mom still lives.  He also died in that house just over one year ago. 

While driving home for Thanksgiving the day before our family dinner, I “invited” my dad to “come” for dinner.  I also asked him to give us a sign so we would know he was there.   

After dinner while I was doing the dishes, I was sad and disappointed because I thought my dad hadn’t come.  But at the exact moment I was feeling sad and disappointed, my brother, who had gone into the next room said, “Hey, the clock stopped.  That’s strange.”  He was referring to the beautiful grandfather clock my parents had kept in their living room for years.      

When I was a young girl, I used to sing My Grandfather’s Clock.  Written in 1876, the song tells of a grandfather clock that was purchased on the morning of the grandfather’s birth.  It chimed 24 times when the grandfather brought his bride into the house, and it suddenly stopped and never worked again when the grandfather died.  The first verse of the song follows:  “My grandfather's clock was too large for the shelf, so it stood ninety years on the floor; it was taller by half than the old man himself, though it weighed not a pennyweight more.  It was bought on the morn of the day that he was born, and was always his treasure and pride; but it stopp'd short — never to go again —when the old man died.”

While the clock in my parents’ living room didn’t chime 24 times when my parents got married – my dad bought the grandfather clock after he married my mom – it did stop working a few weeks after my dad died.  On that occasion, we didn’t think much of it.  My brother noticed that it had stopped and got it working again. 

On the week-end when we were cleaning out my dad’s garage months after his death, I was up in the attic moving some things around.  I noticed an antique clock sitting in the attic that had been there for years.  It hadn’t run in a long time.  I went downstairs and came back up to the attic a few minutes later.  I could hear a noise in the attic and as I looked around, I discovered to my huge surprise that the antique clock was suddenly working.      

Most people would say it was just a coincidence that the clock stopped a few weeks after my dad died, that it was just a coincidence the attic clock started to work again when we were cleaning out my dad’s garage, and it was just a coincidence when the grandfather clock stopped working on the very same day I asked my dad to join us for Thanksgiving dinner.    

I prefer to believe that it is synchronicity in action, a beautiful and loving gift from a conscious, alive, mysterious and wonderful universe.  By stopping and starting his clocks, my dad was making his presence known and letting us know he was okay.  I’d like to think that he arrived promptly at 4 p.m. for dinner when I was setting the table – that’s the time the clock stopped – and he was also there when we carved the turkey, mashed the potatoes, and  squabbled our way through dinner as we always do.  I’d also like to think that my dad left promptly at 7 p.m. – that’s the time my brother noticed the clock had stopped – likely to head off for his post dinner nap in front of the television as usual.       

We are all wonderfully interconnected in mind, body and spirit and it’s really easy to forget that.  I am thankful for many things but this year for Thanksgiving, I gave thanks for the meaningful coincidences surrounding my dad’s clocks and for the brief, wonderful and tantalizing moment when I realized that my dad had indeed heard my prayer and had come for dinner after all.

Debbie L. Kasman

Author Lotus of the Heart:  Reshaping the Human and Collective Soul