My grandmother’s 8-Day, wind-up, brass alarm clock has been keeping me up at night. It’s not from the ticking. It no longer works, but I’ve had the century-old, Tiffany & Co. timepiece since 1990 when my father gave it to me in an attempt to make amends for the time he and his third wife Jan kicked me out of the house for being gay. Just having that evil piece in my bedroom has caused a certain restlessness to settle over my new place in Jersey.
Dad wanted to try to be a father again after I left the Army and moved to New York City. He called me and begged to come up for a visit. I had no idea how much Dad was drinking, but I could not say no. When he arrived at my apartment, he gave me the clock, told me it was “probably worth a few hundred bucks” and that it belonged to my grandmother—the beautiful redhead, who, when she died, did not have her favorite grandson at her gravesite because his father had just put him out of the house for being gay.
Clocks are no longer made like the Tiffany 8 Day. Tiny gears and springs are what keep time inside the charming heirloom.
I asked my mother, no longer a Taylor, to hold onto the clock for me, back in 2002, soon after my lover died. Knowing that Shawn’s family and friends were going through things at our apartment when I was not there, I wanted to be sure no one assumed the clock belonged to the Smith family, so I asked Mom to keep it for me, just for a while.
Ten years went by. I visited my mother several times over the decade, but never had the heart to ask for the clock in return, until this year, when it seemed, with Christmas so dark and so little to give as gifts, that I would take the Tiffany 8-Day back in my possession and perhaps “re-gift” it to my new lover, who loves little contraptions.
Before giving the antique clock to my new lover, ‘B’, I asked my father where my grandmother got it from, assuming perhaps that it came from my great grandfather, Miles Taylor, who, I understand, was called Sir Miles Taylor simply because he was the type to own tiny things, such as a Tiffany 8-Day Travel Alarm.
“Your Meme got that clock off a business man she knew,” My father explained on Christmas Eve. “She was laying up with him in a hotel down in Harrisburg. Mom had such bad luck with men after Dad died. Mom said the man left that pretty clock in the room so she took it with her, intending to return it, but she never saw him again. It’s yours now, son. I hope ya still like it.”
“I’m glad I finally had the courage to ask for it back from mom.”
“You should have left your Mom hold onto that old thing—at least she would think about me once and a while,” Dad said sadly on Christmas Eve as I carefully removed the curse from the little box in which it was wrapped, and decided not to give it to my lover “B”, because, in a sense, the old thing is not a family heirloom.
Anyone who wants to buy it should offer a “few hundred bucks.”