Who’s the Ding Dong Now?
Howard Miller Benjamin
When my grandmother died she had very little money and ten of her eleven children she left an unknown amount of money and bequeathed my dad approximately nine hundred dollars. My grandmother was not particularly fond of my dad and she made sure that was clear to everyone, including his five children. She was affectionate to all of her other children, told them she was proud, that she loved them, but not a kind word was spoken to my dad.
So when she died, he had to think long and hard about spending the money she left him. He had no pictures of her, was not very affectionate himself and he wanted whatever he chose to have significant meaning behind it. He finally chose a Howard Miller Grandfather Clock
and I think I saw an actual tear in his eye when the clock shop presented him with an engraved plaque which registered model 108860 in his name and the date of my grandmothers’ death.
The plaque was hung inside the clock so he could see it every time he opened it to pull the chains. Even though his mother mean and cruel, that clock meant the world to him. The clock was very noisy and bothersome, especially when it chimed every quarter hour. I felt I was being tortured with the annoying tick, tick, tick, tick and then the ear breaking ding dongs every time fifteen minutes passed. We all complained that we couldn’t sleep with all that noise and that’s when my dad explained one of the reasons he chose a grandfather clock.
He said "Every minute and hour that ticks by reminds me to be a completely different parent than my mom was" which to me made complete sense. After hearing that, I had a completely different perspective of the clock. When we had the clock for about five years, four of his five daughters began asking if they could have it when he died. A bit morbid, yes but that was my family; just as dysfunctional as any other family. They told him it would mean so much to them, because granny had really taken a liking to his girls even though he meant nothing to her. Have It indeed, they wanted it because it was fairly new and perhaps worth something. I on the other hand resented my granny and the way she treated my dad, so I didn’t want anything to remind me of her.
didn’t ask for the clock, but as the years passed the clock became a very touchy and controversial subject matter with all of us sisters. Being the instigator I am, I begun telling my sisters I wanted the clock too. I didn’t mean it at the time but I figured I’d throw a little gas on the fire, sit back and watch the fighting get out of control. And that it did. This continued over twenty years and at every family gathering as soon as a sister walked in the door, they narrated a list of reasons why they should get the clock. I just sat back with a disgusted smirk on my face and listened to how ignorant they all were.
In those twenty years, the clock had been moved to several different locations and became a little more damaged each time. Some of the corners were nicked, the cords on the inside were falling down, a tiny scratch was found on the glass, it constantly ran ten minutes late, and basically it was showing his age. One day while painting at my mom and dad’s house, I casually mentioned the clock was really reminding me of granny and what she was. It was old and decrepit, always late for everything, falling apart, and still made that incessant and disturbing tick, tick, tick, DING DONG noise.
At the next family gathering my dad said he had decided to give me the clock and he wanted me to enjoy it while he was still alive so he asked all of the husbands to help move it to my house right then and there. He said there will be no bitching, back stabbing, or bitter remarks about his choice, the end. He then explained the other reason he bought the clock was to see if it taught any of us anything but greed.
I guess my comment about the clock looking like granny on the inside and outside made a huge impact on him. I saw things for what they were and not what I could make them be. I guess the lesson to them was he wanted someone to have the clock for personal reasons; just as he did. He didn’t want anyone to have it simply because it would look nice in their house.
Now I'm wondering if my sisters have shut off the ringers of their phones, because not one of them has answered a call from me since that day.