Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Horrid Hands of Time

The Horrid Hands of Time
Days came and went with mind destroying monotony while the horrid hands of the clock ticked off one less minute she had in this world. She knew she had seen more days in her past than she had in her future and now they had become just one more dreadful, hateful, trudge into tomorrow.
Her children had now grown and moved away. They had all birthed children of their own and the former missus was now mostly alone in her days. Cats replaced some of the void left by her children who had once dominated her life.
The years which had once been filled with children and bills, breakfasts and bruised knees, a broken washing machine and a broken husband, were now filled with aches and pains of advancing years. Where once in her life there was never enough time to get everything done, now there was nothing to be done but wait for the end.

She’d lived through nearly nine decades now. It hurt her inside to know her oldest child was a few years into retirement himself and complaining about being bored with life; the old woman had never retired because she’d dedicated her life to raising eight children and from that job she couldn't retire, just be replaced by other things more important to her children.
She asked herself many times these days where the time had gone. She still had memories of eight children struggling with the first day of school, first broken hearts, and first nights away from home. She would spend entire days looking at photos from years past and each photo held a cherished memory, but each black and white photo was a page in a book that had long been closed.

The photos would also drag back memories of the tragedies of her life.
She could still recall the day one of her children died a most horrid and painful death. Almost 55 years earlier. She found him dead in the basement of their home. There were no answers, there were only questions. His life was painful for her because he was different and his soul was not god-fearing. He ended his life angry at the world.
From then on, her life was never the same. It was the first time she’d ever experienced death so close to her. It was the first time she had ever really given thought to life and what happens when it ends.
These thoughts would stay with her through the rest of her years.
Her life changed and in time, that damnedable time, her husband too became cold and distant and she found her only solace was the bottle. After too many years her husband too, was no longer a part of her life.
She doesn’t remember the day, but somewhere in her past, her children were all gone as was the purpose she'd dedicated her life. The last one had left the nest and the mother bird finally had time to do for herself all the things she had wanted to do.
But the days of her youth had passed her by. The skills she had 50 years before were now as obsolete as the antique clock which ticked off the time on her wall. When she left the workforce so many years ago, she was the lynch pin, today she is the fifth wheel.
The bottle that had been her friend became her enemy. It had injured her soul as well as her body. Now the bottle had to go the way of her children before she went the way of so many others.
She tried many things in the years since her flock had flown, anything to fill the void that ate at her like bile. The empty hours that the clocks in her world ticked off were a reminder that the minutes she had remaining would run down as the snows on the mountain run down the steep peaks and end, eventually, in the endless vast of the dark oceans. She hated the approaching void of the end, but time can not be halted no matter how much she prayed.

In the end, she returned to be a babysitter of her grand children. The circle’s end had come back to her. Her job of raising children for 30 years had returned for another chance.
But like the leaves on the trees, the children of her children soon no longer needed her. Again her home was empty of children. The clock on the wall ticked off another ten years. She damned the clock when her last grandchildren no longer needed her to watch over them.

Sadness enveloped her. Loneliness was her companion. Most of her days were spent in the little one room apartment, a far cry from the four bedrooms farm house from not too many years earlier, her cat and a dog were her only companions. Some days she spent volunteering as a special friend for kids in need, but that was not something that filled the days for the woman. Those children belonged to others. And they were gone in the same day. There was never a closeness to fill her heart.
A day came when even her beloved dog had grown old and passed on. Another life she had loved had lived and grown and died before her eyes. Even today, her tears could begin to fall at the thought of those who she had known and loved, had already lived their life in full. Another day came and the cat she'd befriended as a kitten grew old and passed into the afterlife that only cat's enjoy. God how she hated that damn clock that kept ticking her life away.

She couldn’t remember when it happened, but one day her daughter’s daughter brought for her to see the fourth generation of her progeny. That night she cried. She cried hot tears at the passage of time and how she envied the child who had so recently come into the world.
Laid before her great grand daughter, was all of the tomorrows the old woman had in her memories. And she knew one day soon, even those memories would be gone with her body.
Her days, she knew, were growing few. There was nothing to help her this time.
The old woman had been saved before through heroic medical technology, technology unknown just a handful of years earlier, technology that might have given her mother and father more good and less painful years, technology by men and women the age of her grand children, had saved her life one time. But the doctors could no longer help the body that would not be helped.
The years her body had seen, was now tiring of being repaired. The body which had worked from sun up to sundown, and often beyond, was now coming to an end.
The woman, too, was tiring of her life.
There was emptiness in her life. Her days were filled with boredom. Her children filled their lives with their offspring. The visits that had once been frequent were now rare. Her cats, the surrogate children she used to fill some of the void, came and went; she could no longer remember all the names of the ones she had loved.
And as she sat in her lonely room, she tried to remember other things, but soon, even those memories would be gone.
The woman, whose days had once been filled with life, was now devoid of purpose. In her mornings, she sat and watched the sun rise. In the afternoon, she watched the birds eat from the feeder outside her door. In the evening, she waiting for sleep to take her to dreams of yesterday.
And every morning was the same. Every day was a repeat of the day before.
And every day was sad.
And every night she prayed for God to take her peacefully in her sleep.