A month has passed since Jenny Rosen rolled her sleeves to the elbow and rid my house of grime. I’m trying to clear the top layer, at least; and thick the dust lies on my mantel. I push open the clock, which has not chimed in years, to see if I can coax it back to life. I know my father gutted its old works and installed a battery-operated mechanism. I think: It just needs a new battery, but I see the hands dangling and fear that more ails it.
And so, here, on this Saturday, at the Holmes house, I have a moment’s revelation as I gaze into the back of the mantel clock that came down through two generations to be mine. A note from the giver: A man whom my words often malign, but who, it must be said (with a nod to Penny) loved me. His father, his brother, and I, share this profession that has taken me from my twenties to an age beyond which either of them walked this earth.
I wipe the dust away from the clock’s brass fittings, and re-settle the note in the back beside the new battery which I installed in vain. The crystal dragon which my son gave me dangles again on the clock’s face. On the clock’s curved sides, I re-place the angel token, a Liberty nickel, and someone’s long-forgotten St. Patrick’s Day charm. I go about the rest of my cleaning with a lighter heart.