My Dad, lived just short of 99 years. In the last months/years of his life, He decided that He couldn’t give up his eating habits. His favorite place to shop for groceries was his local drug store. There he could pick up Better Made potato chips, Breyers Vanilla Ice Cream, peanuts and maple syrup, Goebel beer and fixing for a Manhattan drink. He had difficulty with swallowing, but Dad swore the alcohol helped him. His was his daily intake along with macaroni and cheese. Sometimes he added shrimp to the dish.
He was hard of hearing. His hearing aids were often plugged with wax. Pretending to hear a question, His favorite phrase,”Well… any ways.”” was used by Dad to steer the topic to one of his choosing. Because of his hearing facts of the stories were added, omitted or changed to fit the current memory and the story line. When the conversation took a turn or changed to a subject that Dad didn’t want to talk about, He would say well, any ways. This was his way of not agreeing with the speaker and starting a new story. My brother Brian would clean out Dad’s ears with peroxide and warm water. Even if his ears had been recently cleaned, dad wouldn’t try to understand a question that he didn’t agree with.
In his later years, I was a willing listener to his memories and stories. As one of my brothers once remarked,”There was the truth and then there was Dad’s story of the truth.”
He loved to talk of people and events in his life. Living through the Great Depression, serving as a Marine in WWII, to raising a family in the small town he grew up in, Bruce was a wealth of interesting facts. Some of them were true.
On his last Christmas, Dad wanted to give us his grandfather clock. He wanted to keep it in the family. We accepted the gift but never started it. The ticking was too loud in our small house. This past year, we presented to my nephew Jason and his fiancee Samantha. We full filled Dad’s wish to pass his clock to a family member. As I wind my own mantle clock, I recall Dad taking care to wind each of his fourteen clocks so he could hear every striking of the hours. I smile as I count the strikes in the middle of the night thinking of my Dad saying,”Well… anyways.”
The old man walks slowly to the mantle clock.
Reaching behind for the winding key,
inserting the key, he turns to the left five times.
Removing the key, he winds the second spring to the right.
Using his finger, he lightly taps the pendulum, starting the ticking.
Moving from room to room, he repeats the task.
As his father and grandfather before him, The ticking marks his life.
March 6th 2023