My parents’ house has two front rooms. The smaller one is currently doubling up as a bedroom/sick ward for my terminally ill father. There’s never a clutter of collected tea cups or half-eaten biscuits as my mum busies herself tidying around us, an always-on-the-go highly strung mother hen, just about keeping it together for the good of her brood. The telly is often on, its volume muted, subtitles jerkily appearing out of sync. Now and again one of my dad’s favourite folk CDs will be playing softly in the background. When left alone, my mum sits beside my dad, maybe singing, always holding his hand.

The larger of the two rooms has always been known as ‘the good room’. We are only really ever in there at Christmas and New Year or maybe for someone’s birthday. It would need to be a special birthday though. Compared to the other front room, where the cream carpet has been turned a grubby shade of grey due to non-stop foot traffic over the past two weeks, this room is indeed ‘the good room’. If the nurse or the doctor or the carers turn up, we tend to decamp to the good room while they do their stuff. A couple of days ago my wife and I sat in silence, half listening to the muffled voices coming from the other room, but mainly being distracted by the tick-tick-ticking of an old clock above the fireplace.

I hate that clock,” I muttered to my wife. “It reminds me of being bored at my gran’s.” I’d be waiting for the telly to start, 70’s TV being characterised by the epoch-defining girl playing knots and crosses with the clown – a screensaver before they’d coined such a term – listening to the ticking of the clock working against the clickety clack of my gran’s knitting needles and the smackety snap of her substitute for Silk Cut chewing gum, willing time to speed up and for something, anything to happen.

Now I’m desperate to slow time down. Turn it back even.

Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.

Tick tock.

Outside, traffic flashes past on its way to wherever, busy people leading busy lives. And time goes on.

In the supermarket I meet my dad’s pal, a big, proper man’s man, and we burst into tears at the sight of one another. No one seems to notice.

The Chinese takeaway asks if I want a bag. Well, who wouldn’t want a bag for their piping hot, metal-cartoned food?

The woman in the petrol station asks if I have a Nectar card and do I want cash back and would I like a receipt with that? Tick tock tick tock tick tock tick tock. No thanks.

Driving to my parents’ house I’m stuck behind a literal Sunday driver and I overtake him where I shouldn’t, pushing my old car to the extremes so that I can get to my dad before the nurse does. She has medication in her bag and the big news of the day is that he’s been ‘talking’ to my mum and my sister. ‘Talking’ has been put in inverted commas as he’s more communicating through a series of painful moans and heavy-armed points in the rough direction of his mouth, but still, the prospect of him being awake enough to be aware of who’s in the room is enough to make me press my foot further to the floor. Now I’m the traffic flashing past, a busy person leading a busy life.

I get to my parents’ house.

Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.

This is hellish.

16 thoughts on “Clocks”

  1. Hi Mista Callsta
    Not really sure what to tell you fella. Been following your Blog since the beginning of time and can’t believe that you’re not a writer of some sort (inc this blog), but yeah, I know you’re a brilliant teacher. Really hope that you get some quality time with the ‘Da.
    I think the problem is that we suddenly realize “we’re the oldies”, so that means they’re (parents) the MEGA oldies, and for some weird reason, we think our parents are gonna be around forever, but obviously life doesn’t work that way. I think that I’m rambling cos my Da’ is ‘wobbling’ a bit at the moment and I’ve been thinking similar stuff. Hope you’re ok bud.

  2. Beautiful words describing a horrible situation, got no words to make it better but know your all in our thoughts…….

  3. I’ve been reading your stuff forever it seems, directed eons ago via the TFC board. Tick tock. I lost my dad 12-years ago on my birthday. It was my 28th. I am now 40. Tick tock. Not a day goes by he isn’t with me. I’ve come to terms with it by reasoning he still lives so long as I do; that his actions remain present-tense so long as I carry on what he instilled in me. It never goes away—we do. In the meantime, we take turns burying one another. All the love and light to you and especially your father, a man that obviously put all of his best into his son. So while we’re all slaves to the tick tock, just remember that you provide some of us with an accompaniment to the same that renders it less the doom-pulse of mortality than the accentuating snare-shots on the 3 and 4 of life’s absurd but goddamn beautiful dance.
    Love from California,
    Cody (warmjets)

  4. I want to say something profound Craig but there isn’t anything which will make it better or lessen the heartache, so I just hope that you all get the support that you need from each other.

    and I agree it is pure shite growing up

  5. Grim time Craig. Take it easy man and try to find a place within yourself to quietly retreat to and inhabit while some of this Time happens. And do remember that you wont always feel like this last thing at night and first thing in the morning. It will all pass. For eventually “peace comes dropping slow, dropping from the veils of the morning” and you should “let your grief be a falling leaf at the dawning of the day…”. No apologies for throwing poetry at you but it is a strange comfort and always remember McDiarmid’s “Oh I hae Silence left… the croon o’ a’…” (if you don’t know that one look it up). Take care man. When this Time is over and things settle once more, the wheels will turn again.

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