Wednesday Weirdness: The Ghosts of Time, Part 1

pathway between large, gnarled trees with words "on the path of Wednesday Weirdness" superimposed over image

We’ve often heard the expression “time stopped.” But can it really? As much as I love time travel speculating about traversing centuries, time flows in a single direction–forward. Despite cold facts and scientific data, generations of writers, philosophers, artists and musicians remain bewitched by the abstract elements of time.

Spiraling image of a clock face with big bold numbers reducing in sizeConsider me one. In the past, I’ve done several blog posts about what I call “betwixt moments,” but I’ve never shared where my fascination with time originated. I can easily trace it back to my father who had a passion for antiques, especially old clocks. I grew up in a house filled with them. I have memories of a large white captain’s clock, several squat mantle clocks, and a pointed steeple clock that would have been at home in a Sherlock Holmes novel. But the star of my dad’s collection was a grandfather’s clock he found at a garage sale. Built in 1902, the clock was his baby.

He pampered it…winding it, oiling it, adjusting the chimes, polishing the pendulum. It had a prime spot in our living room, its chimes resounding throughout the house on the hour. As a kid, I created multiple stories with clocks and would often lay awake at night listening for the deep bass bong of the grandfather’s clock.

When my husband and I bought our second home, the first piece of furniture I purchased for the formal living room was a grandfather’s clock. Never mind there wasn’t a couch or chair, the clock came first. That’s the romantic, impractical side of me. Every time I look at that clock, I think of my dad.

As kids he’d often tell us that when he died, if there was a way to come back, he’d find it. If the grandfather’s clock was running he’d stop it, and if it was stopped, he’d start it. I don’t think my dad intended on dying early—maybe he’d knew he’d have a short life—but the afterlife fascinated him. When I was thirteen, he passed away from colon cancer.

bigstock-Abstract-Time-Piece-1101466Sometime after that, the whole family was gathered in the living room. My father passed away in early September, so I believe this must have been Thanksgiving, because my married sisters were there with their spouses. My mom was the only one not in the room. I think she might have been in the kitchen. Someone went to note the time and realized the clock had stopped. There was a moment of goosebump-silence as we absorbed the impact. My sister immediately told her husband: “start it, before Mom sees it.” We never told my mom about that incident until much later in life, fearing it might upset her.

Was my dad there? Had he stopped the clock as promised?  I still wonder. Many people would chalk it up to happenstance, but it’s far too coincidental to me.

Today, the clock belongs to my brother. One hundred seventeen years after it was built, it has become an intricate part of our family history. We’ve passed the tale of my dad and his promise to the younger generation, a story often reflected on at family gatherings. The clock—like my father—is still touching lives, a testament of time and memory.

Is there a spooky story in your family history—one that has been passed down to you or that you’ve passed to your kids? Sometimes we don’t have to look beyond our own bloodline to find inspiration for a legend. I’ll be sharing along this line next week. Now it’s your turn. Let me hear your thoughts.

84 thoughts on “Wednesday Weirdness: The Ghosts of Time, Part 1

  1. When I was young, I remember being in the kitchen with my mum. She saw a little girl in rags out through the kitchen window. But when Mum went out into the garden to investigate, the girl had gone. And, then, when my Mum came back into the house, looking perturbed, she went back to the sink to finish the dishes, and there was the girl again through the window.

    I wasn’t tall enough back then to see through the window, but it was the first time I’d seen my Mum that freaked. Mum checked another two or three times to my memory, and each time, the girl could only be seen through the window.

    I really need to make up a story about that one of these days!

    Great post, Mae. Thanks for sharing.

    Reblogged on: https://harmonykent.co.uk/wednesday-weirdness-the-ghosts-of-time-part-1/

    Liked by 6 people

  2. You already know about my “ghost” story involving my neighbor. This is something that happened to my Mom. My brother was building a small cabin in the woods near our home. It was a warm summer day and Mom decided to walk down the path to see him. He was cleaning inside the cabin (sawdust, sheetrock dust, etc. – the things that come with construction). Mother swore she saw a woman walk inside the cabin and thought it was my brother’s girlfriend. When Mom got to the cabin, there was no one but my brother. His girlfriend wasn’t around. (No one would have walked into that mess with all the dust flying.) Mom was adamant she saw someone. We’ve often speculated about this over the years.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Oooh, another chilling tale. As freaky as I am about ghosts, I love hearing stuff like this. It would be interesting to know if there were any legends of a mysterious woman around the area where your brother was building that cabin.

      And the tale about your neighbor, still freaks me out, Joan!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Years after he built it, I was there one night alone. Heard some unusual sounds. My brother once swore he heard someone ask, “How are you doing?” No one was there. I hadn’t thought of this in years but your post got me to thinking.

        And that’s incredible about the clock.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t have a story about a person, but how about a cat? After Shadow crossed the Rainbow Bridge, all of us were very upset, and I asked him to send us a sign he was alright. We went to church that morning and when we returned, a cotton ball was laying on the floor in the doorway to my bedroom. Of all the toys we’d bought him, Shadow’s favorite was a dampened cotton ball. He’d play fetch as long as we’d throw it. Still puts a smile on my face to think about it.

    Liked by 5 people

  4. This gave me goosebumps!

    We always had a Grandfather clock growing up and a family one was given to my husband and me early in our marriage that we still have and use.

    My family use to talk about ghosts inhabiting our perspective houses and causing a scare but there is no one story that is a family legend – just stories ❤️

    Liked by 2 people

    • It seems like you may have plenty of stories though, Tessa. And I love the fact Grandfather clocks are/were part of your heritage too. I just love them! Actually, old clocks in general. I always thought I’d enjoy working in a clock store because I find the ticking soothing!

      Liked by 2 people

  5. OMG. In addition to this being a great, spooky post that makes you think, I have just discovered that my husband is apparently a doppelganger for your father! Mark is obsessed with old clocks, and collects them avidly. He can spend hours tinkering on them and making the oldest of them run again. We also have a somewhat vintage grandfather clock that he acquired, though it’s not nearly as old most clocks in this house. We have cuckoo clocks and mantle clocks and kitchen clocks, and even a schoolhouse clock. It’s like living in Gepetto’s workshop! I would guess there are over 200 timepieces in the house by the time you count all the ancient pocket watches and wind up alarm clocks! My DIL says it sounds like a scene from Peter Pan in here: tick-tick-tick-tick. (Until I got my first hearing aids, I wasn’t aware they were that loud!)

    As for the clock-and-HEART-stopping moment you describe after your father’s passing, well that just gave me goosebumps. I’m sure it was totally unforgettable for everyone present. And I’m warning Mark right now, he’d better not try something like that on me. (Though being a bit older, it’s far more likely that I’ll come back to haunt him. Who will remind him to feed the animals and take out the garbage if my ghost doesn’t?)

    Great post, Mae! Very interesting story, and things like that certainly do make you wonder. (In addition to giving you some spooky ideas for books.) Sharing! 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • I would LOVE your house with all of those clocks! I have such fond memories of clocks everywhere when I was a kid. I loved the ticking and found it soothing. I’ve actually got another “clock post” coming up next week. Mark sounds like he has a fun hobby, and your reply about haunting him made me laugh 😀

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Reblogged this on The Write Stuff and commented:
    A must-read post over at Mae Clair’s blog today! Time, clocks, mysterious happenings, and possible ghosts all wrapped up in one great post. Check it and and pass it along, if you can, thanks! And thanks, Mae, for giving me a shiver or too and some great ideas for writing about “timely” events! 🙂 Super post!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I really enjoyed reading that, Mae. Thank you.
    Now I’m an octogenarian, I have noticed that the rhythmic, lulling sound of a ticking clock is no longer as evident in most homes. I can vividly recall the different clock ‘voices’ which featured in my childhood. In Grandma Rose’s house, the mantle-piece clock was well-made and had a most pleasing, loudish tick, as if to say ‘I’m special;look at me…’ Whereas, the large, pendulum swinging clock in Grandma Havard’s house, looked to be perched on Grandad’s head as he always sat in an armchair beneath it. We were always aware of the time as the hours were allowed to chime.I know it’s nostalgia talking, but I miss those clocks, and everyone connected to them, but have the warmest memories of gatherings and parties their cheerful ticking invoked. Hugs xx.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi, Joy! It’s so lovely to have you drop by and share your memories. I agree that each clock has its own special voice. I’ve always loved listening to them, and being lulled by the ticking sound. Our clocks were always allowed to chime as well, and even today, my grandfather clock chimes out each quarter hour with resonating deep bongs on the hour. Clocks were an important part of my childhood, too. It’s lovely to hear they factored in yours as well.
      Thanks for visiting and sharing such vivid and enchanting memories!

      Liked by 2 people

  8. That is such a great story. I don’t have anything to compare it to. You’ve read my story about the furniture that moved around one quiet morning. It kind of reminded me of our old dog that passed away before we got the bulldogs.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. A wonderful piece of writing Mae. So sorry to hear that your dad passed so young. Is it evidence of some form of afterlife? My dad laughed at my dabbles in mediumship but when he was dying, me and my mum asked if he was to return to give proof that he was there. At times she’s regretted that as she regularly hears sand falling on the table (he loved his Greek holidays) and the bedside light turned on. He was a carpenter and DIYer and at our home we find power tools mysteriously turn off. Is it the power of the mind or some other energy manifesting itself? I love your Weird Wednesdays!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Wow, that really gave me goosebumps, J.R! Whatever is causing lights to turn on, and power tools to activate that is very spooky Like you said, it could be energy manifesting itself, or even spikes in the lines, but it does make you wonder.
      Thanks so much for sharing and I’m glad you enjoy these posts. I have fun with them! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

    • Most all of the stuff that makes it into my novels is made up too, Robbie. Well…with the exception of a certain green cloud 🙂
      I’ve had a few odd things happen in my life, but thankfully, not many, as I’m kid of freaky about supernatural stuff.

      Liked by 2 people

  10. This was such a poignant post. So glad your dad got to return to you for a minute. I was married when my dad died, but my mom and sisters said that before the hospital called to say that he was gone, they were all asleep and woke up because someone opened their bedroom doors and stepped into their rooms for a minute before moving on. They swear it was Dad saying goodbye to them.

    Liked by 4 people

  11. I’m sorry about your dad, Mae. I do believe he stopped the clock as promised. It’s wonderful your brother has the clock and you have a grandfather clock, too. I always thought there was something magical about those clocks, the gentle tick or sweet chimes. We have my mom’s here and my husband looks after it. Time may always go forward but our minds can travel to any time.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I am taken by your story Mae… it reminds me of my father who died in an a road accident when I was 12. With him went away the passion he had to pamper us and offer us the best of the world. He had a beautiful gramophone, with some long plays (records) that we treasured just like the clock you mention… only memories remain, all else perishes, robbing us of moments that could have extended had he been with us.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. This is a lovely post, Mae. Your father probably loves that he passed on his joy of clocks to his children.
    I’ve mentioned the ghosts we had in our house when I was growing up, so I’ll share one today about my Shepherd, Annie. She was a rescue-about five months old-when DH brought her home, scared and timid. It took a long time to build trust, but once she gave it… well, it meant a lot. She became our shadow. If DH or I moved, she was there.
    I kept an old blanket on the end of the bed and that was her place to sleep (unless DH was home, he worked night shifts :)). After she passed away, I couldn’t bring myself to move that blanket and there were many nights I’d wake up to the sensation of her weight there and it gave me comfort.
    I believe our loved ones find a way to ease the pain of their passing, whether the sudden stop of a clock, a soft breath on our cheek, or a comforting weight at the end of the bed. ❤

    Liked by 3 people

    • Jacquie, that is utterly beautiful. I love that you felt that comfort from Annie. I know you’ve shared some bizarre things happening in the house where you grew up, but this one–when you were older–is heartwarming!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Fascinating story, Mae… I’ve never seen a ghostly thing, but both of our daughters claim to have done so. An angel who helped along the roadside after an accident; A woman who visited youngest daughter’s bedroom at night to tuck her in (We lived in a Victorian house at this time). I do not doubt them!

    Liked by 3 people

  15. That was a wonderful story, Mae. I’m really happy you shared it with us. I can feel the love for your father in your words. He’s in your heart. He’s with you every day. After reading this I wish I knew him.

    Here’s my story:
    I was born and raised in Burlington, Washington. About 80 miles north of Seattle. In 1990 I was going to college in Ashland, Oregon. Just up the road from the California border. In October I flew home. My Grandfather was dying of cancer. I stayed the week and flew back over the weekend. It was now a waiting game. He wasn’t going to make it.

    For the next two days I was nervous, angry, you name it. But on the third day something happened.

    It was a Tuesday around 12:30. I was walking to class when suddenly I felt an incredible calm. To this day I have never felt such peace. In that moment I knew he had died. When class ended my best friend was out in the hall waiting for me. We had a phone in our dorm and he just happened to be the one who answered it.

    When I flew home I asked what time he died. I purposely asked several people. All of them said 12:30.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Bryan, I got chills for your story! What a beautiful tale and something to always treasure. Your grandfather wanted you to know he was at peace and that had his spirit had flown to a better place. For that split, frozen second he was with you.

      Thank you for the beautiful words about my father, as well. We were very close and it was devastating to lose him so young. I’m thankful I had thirteen years with him. He taught me a lot during that time and helped shape me into the person I am today.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Natalie. It was definitely a powerful moment and one I will never forget. That clock and my father’s promise has such a long history in my family. I hadn’t thought about it in a long while until putting this post together. Sharing it makes me treasure it all the more!

      Liked by 1 person

    • What a wonderful point about a digital age when LED numbers have replaced moving parts. Like you, I love the sound of ticking clocks, and the beautiful chimes of a grandfather’s clock. Those clockwork clocks of the past where the best! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  16. That’s definitely as eerie story Mae. Sorry to hear your dad passed over while you were so young; that had to be very hard on you.
    As for grandfather clocks and death, there’s a lot of lore about these two elements being twined together. The most common one I’ve heard is if the grandfather clock comes to an unexpected stop, it’s owner will die. So, why not if the owner passes, he can make the clock stop? As I’ve said before, never discount anything – the universe is just too strange.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I never realized there were legends twining death and clocks, Jess. Very interesting. I’m not sure what happened that day so long ago, but I’m keeping an open mind about it, and it still brings goosebumps when I think about it!

      Liked by 1 person

  17. I love this story about growing up with the clocks and the grandfather clock, Mae! I’d wager my last two cents that your dad stopped the clock. What better way to join in on the family gathering! Time is a fascinating thing, totally invented by mankind and yet a necessary means of tracking events. We are having a family reunion this year for the first time in five years and we do have a few spooky stories to tell. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I’m convinced it was your Dad letting you know he was there, Mae. Chilling, yet comforting! I saw something strange many years ago, and the same phenomenon was witnessed a few days later by two other people. I’ll tell the story one of these days.

    Like

  19. Mae, a beautiful post that has me in goosebumps, equally heartwarming and sad. Your description of the clock is incredible, bringing it to life to us all, and your young fascination with it is palpable. Oh, when you wrote how the clock stopped after the sad loss of your father I felt very strange … and definitely do believe this could be his way of communicating with you all. Such memories for you to share with your family through the ages. I look forward to reading part 2!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for visiting to check out the story, Annika. It was a memory I cherish to this day, and one I can’t really explain. I view it with both warmth and shivers, but the shivers are for something amazing and good, not scary, Part two will be this Wednesday. Time and clocks just see to have a strong focus in my family which this week will echo. I hope you pop in to visit, and many thanks again for reading and commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

  20. I’m a believer! In the years of my first marriage, I lived next to an eccentric millionaire. He was a powerful force. He kept a pair of lions on his back lot and a full team of polo horses in his stables. He had his own helicopter and pilot, and laid claim to a Guinness Book of Records entry for the world’s longest divorce case.. He died at exactly ten past four on a Tuesday afternoon. My wife insisted he appeared outside our back door that afternoon on the stroke of four-ten. She made to let him inside because, she said, ‘he looked so lonely’, but he just walked away. Several others, his employees and family members, made similar claims, although he had been in a coma for at least a week. Weird, huh? I’m sure the dead have a presence, and it is no fiction, that expression that ‘they are always with us’.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Wow, he was unbelievably eccentric! When I got to the part about him appearing at your back door at 4:10, I had goosebumps. Something definitely happened there.Another blogging friend had a similar occurrence where she saw her neighbor going into his house. She had no clue he had actually died hours before. This stuff is freaky weird!

      Liked by 1 person

    • That’s amazing, Frederick. Something similar happened to me when I was seventeen. I can still picture who I thought was our neighbor walking into his house. But as Mae said in her comment, he was already dead. It’s something I’ll never forget.

      Liked by 2 people

      • This gives me chills, Joan. As soon as I saw Frederick’s comment, I thought of you and your story about your neighbor. It was the first thing that popped into my head!

        Like

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