THE CLOCK STRUCK FOURTEEN

Updated: Oct 28


Day done, I got ready for bed the same routine as always, late nights. In my comfy PJs, I fluffed up My Giza Pillow, just like Mike does on TV. I even installed a brand new CPAP mask and flung it across the bed in anticipation of crawling deep into my cacoon. No snoring or breathing problems for me. I think I took my nightly meds from the weekly minder snap container. I don’t know? The weeks go flashing by, while the days lumber on. Having puffed my inhalers, I tossed the rosary out in the middle of the bed, where I could fish for it in the darkness under two warm cuddly medicinal handmade quilts.


Just prior to lights out, I checked the security monitor to see all’s well for this old man, and whether it was freezing rain or just snowing. It could be either I thought, it’s winter, it’s my winter, and winter can be relentless.


Sitting on the edge of the bed, in my fav green F16 Tuskegee Airman Alaskan “Fly, Fish, or Flyfish” tee, I was ready for the rollback, duck and cover, of a cold winter’s night.


As I sat on edge, I noticed a strange quietness, a stillness in the air. I could see my breath! Then without warning, my dear grandmother clock in a distant room began its Westminster symphony, slowly, deliberately, solemnly striking the hour, echoing throughout and empty house. You know how it is you, you count every strike of the clock, bong, bong, bong bong, bong. It’s not just the ears that hear, it’s the entire body that counts the clock. It was midnight and I counted with grandmother. Ahhh midnight, sweet midnight chimes - 10, 11, 12. But? But? Wait? What? The clock struck 13, then 14! There was that demonstrative 12 chime, then BONG, BONG. I was certain of my body’s count. It never failed ... till now. An unrealness, dizzying spell came over me. Strange? Creepy strange. I didn’t bother to check the clock. I just drifted off. Stranger still, I never woke up next morning!



Author’s Note: Be thee watchful on the watchtower, for you know not the day, nor the hour.


You see I probably died before the clock struck maybe during the strikes and the finality of 12 was reassuring. But when the clock went on strike 14, A strange feeling possessed me. I was sure of the strikes and unsure of the hour of death.


Old now, I have looked at myself often. Aging, I’ve wondered how long I was going to live, I joke with the grandkids and hold my arm up with all those shriveling wrinkles on it, exclaiming, shrieking, startled, “Oh my gosh who is this!” They laugh. I am full of life’s journey’s joys and wonderful memories. But I knew I was getting old. I know that it is my Winter and I rejoice in having had so many enjoyable seasons. It was time, it was time to go, it was two strokes on the clock passed my midnight. Time got the best of me.


For those who have lived a long full life, death comes in “Winter.” And when it comes, pray it comes peacefully. I like to think there will be a transition like the transition in the story here. So if, there is indeed a right of passage, a transition, who is writing this review of the midnight hour, in the midnight hour (I’m dead aren’t I?)? And wherefrom? From the hereafter? I like to think there is this a period, a transition between life and life after life. I think sometimes we die and don’t know it; sometimes die before we know it. We die and sometimes discover we died. So yes, there is likely transition, a passage from life, to life after life. I mean we’re still the same person, the same body, soul, mind, spirit - Right? Not having made it through the transition yet, I really can only speculate and you can only guess what’s in store. I wish I knew, I can’t tell you on faith and hope, what and if there is this peaceful passage between life and life after life after death. I hope there is, if not just tell “Grandmother Clock,” fourteen was a good number. You’ll just have to find out yourself when your winter comes. Pray before that day and hour🙏🏻

Addendum: Of course you noticed I broke my “Tuesday’s With Tom” tradition and posted this this morning on June 14th. The photo is of my much loved Michigan made Trend Grandmother Clock keeping us posted nigh on some forty years now. And yes that’s my reflection in the photo, in the well worn, maroon Orvis shirt Erin gave me some odd years back. Enjoy!

tom tenbrunsel

Poet Laureate of My Domain


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