Time is passing
As another year has rolled up on the calendar of my life, I cannot help but reflect on the passing of time.
I am reminded of my grandmother who passed away in 1966. Kate (English) Power was my father’s mother and she lived next door to my family home in Branch. Because there was more than one Kate Power in Branch, and my grandfather’s name was Gus, she was affectionately called Mrs. Katie Gus. To her grandchildren, she was known as Mom Power. Mom Power had an interesting fascination with time and its components.
I thought that this article would be fitting to read as we have recently celebrated the winter solstice. My grandmother never specifically used the word ‘solstice,’ but she would speak of how the sun had crossed the line and was swinging back toward us, and that we would soon see the days getting longer. She would say, “After the 12th day, you will notice that every day will be a cock’s step and a jump longer.”
She would bring to my attention how shadows were gradually getting shorter. At evening time, she would make me inspect the picket fence shadows on the ground outside her kitchen window to see the difference from the day before. I realize now that her preoccupation with all this seasonal stuff was a wishing for the departure of winter and the arrival of spring.
My obsession with the passage of time and change of seasons originated in her company. I remember sitting in my grandmother’s kitchen as she directed me to listen to the tick-tock of the clock, which she called a timepiece. She told me it was saying, “Time is passing. Time is passing.” But when you’re not yet 10 years old, the passing of time does not mean a whole lot because you think you’ll be young forever.
As I watched Mom Power rock in her chair by the window, I wished she would not talk about dying. I did not want to think about her being gone, because that kind of stuff is too sad for children. She had her own way of preparing me for her leaving and I will never forget her little verse.
“So shall it be when I am gone. Those joyful bells will still ring on.”
Although her words strayed a bit from those of the Irish poet Thomas Moore, I have since located the source of her quote with some help from Google. It’s from a delightful poem titled “Those Evening Bells”.
My grandmother’s house was torn down about fifteen years ago. Before they took the chainsaw to the walls, I ventured in for one last look. I could not find the pencil scratches behind the pantry door. I longed to get a glimpse of those telltale lines made every year from the time I was about three.
That probably stopped during some teenage year when I felt I was too old to be getting my height measured by my grandmother. Now, I can see that her simple pencil marking was just another way of monitoring the passage of time.
And now I find myself around the same age Mom Power was when she tried to teach me those important lessons about time. I guess some of it rubbed off, because now one of my most frequently used quotes is, “Time and tide wait for no man.”