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I said, `Lillian, get your clock!'

I'D been wanting a big-face schoolhouse clock like the one that hung on the wall when I was in elementary school. It was the center of the biggest wall of the schoolroom where everyone could see it, especially the teacher. We made so much noise that the ticktock could not be heard most of the time. For me, however, the sound was thunderous when we were given an exam and the teacher said, ``You'll have 45 minutes to complete this test -- begin now.'' When I saw this clock advertised in a 50 percent discount sale catalog, I wanted it. I'd seen it before in the regular catalog for $145, but that was far too much for me to pay for a whim when I already had three electric clocks, two 24-hour windups, one plastic quartz, and three wristwatches. Clocks I didn't need. But I wanted a big-face schoolhouse clock on the wall above my TV set.

The catalog sale price was $74. Since I already had a charge account there, I said, ``Lillian, get your clock. Order it now.''

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It was packed securely and I carefully unwrapped it, set it down on the cushioned davenport, then read every word in the book of directions and illustrations on what to do to get my clock in place and running. It's a 31-day clock already wound at the factory. All I had to do was hang it on the wall. The big hand was at 12 and the little hand at 3. I looked at one of my clocks to see what time it was and it was then 20 minutes after 2. Rather than go through all the hours, I showed some smarts and thought, in 40 minutes it will be 3 o'clock. I'll wait.

The directions said to attach the pendulum to the bracket that hung down (after removing a rubber band and some paper and cardboard), gently give the pendulum a push, and the clock would start running.

Before the clock arrived, I'd planned exactly where I wanted it. So while I waited for 3 o'clock, I got out my hammer and nails and moved the picture that was where I wanted the clock. The picture had been my special prize and delight. It was a ceramic mosaic on wood of Park Street Church in Boston, which is the beginning of the Freedom Trail. The picture was created by a Brookline, Mass., artist who planned to do all the buildings on the Freedom Trail tour. This was her first. She was proud and pleased with the picture. She had glazed the ceramic pieces herself to get the right shade of pink for the bricks. She hadn't planned to sell it. When I asked how much she would ask if she did sell it, she named a three-digit figure, thinking I'd never pay that price. I said, ``I'll take it. When can you deliver it?''

The reason I asked about the delivery was that the entire transaction was consummated from a color photograph she had taken of the picture. That picture I had to have. It was not only a Boston landmark, it was a symbol of the beginning of my own Freedom Trail, alone and in a new city. I hung the picture on the other side of the door from where my clock now hung. My two special loves side by side.

I sat down and just enjoyed looking at my new clock, appreciating its cream color face with big black Roman numerals and its shiny brass pendulum with cream color and brass design all encased in a carved wood casing. It fitted snugly against the wall. I waited for 3 o'clock to arrive so I could hear the chimes and learn if it were wound up and if it would strike 3. At a second before 3 I gently pushed the pendulum and BUNNNGG BUNNNGG BUNNNGG, in the most melodic tones the chimes floated out from the box and filtered through the rooms, the reverberation of each chime lingering. I was thrilled. It was wonderful to hear and worth the wait.

Next I waited for the clock to chime the half hour. It did and right on time. The next thing was to see if it would chime 4 when 4 o'clock came. If it did, I'd know the setting was correct. If the pendulum kept swinging, I'd know it was wound up for 31 days, and the clock was set and so was I.

I got busy reading and forgot about the clock. When it struck the half hour it startled me, and then I smiled and said, ``Thank you, clock. You're beautiful!''

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It came to me what had really happened with the arrival of this clock. It takes the place of something alive in my apartment, besides plants, of course. I love pets, but pets are not allowed in this building.

Even though it is said you cannot love anything that cannot love you back, I love my Park Street Church picture and my schoolhouse clock, symbols of my life, past, future, and present.

My big-face schoolhouse clock's faithful ticktock makes me more aware of the importance of each moment in every day. It nudges me on to use those moments and hours wisely and more productively than I have previously been doing. It's not only a striking clock, it's positively brilliant to say so much to me as it ticktocks through my every day in its chiming way.

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