When that Last Piece Dies by Brandy Lidbeck

posted in: Uncategorized | 16

It was December of 1989 and I was eight years old. My Christmas wish list was full of toys and books and one item I wanted more than anything else…an alarm clock. I remember specifically asking my mom for “a clock that lights up in the middle of the night.”

On Christmas morning, I ran downstairs and tore through all of my presents. I got a Teddy Ruxpin and a Snoopy Snow Cone machine, two of the all-time greatest toys ever invented! And, I got a Spartus alarm clock with lime green numbers which displayed brightly day and night. I felt a little older that day having my very own alarm clock. I could not be more thrilled to own that clock and told my mom how thankful I was. Unfortunately,  I would only have one more Christmas with my mom before she took her own life.

As the months went on, the Snoopy Snow Cone machine became less and less exciting and Teddy Ruxpin’s stories were old and not near as intriguing. As with all toys, they began to collect dust in the corner. That clock though was always next to my bed. When my mom passed away, we were quick to get rid of most of her possessions and I wasn’t left with much that reminded me of her. We moved houses immediately and as we packed boxes, pictures of my mom came down from the walls and were never hung up again. We moved on. We weren’t healing, but we were moving on. Maybe I should say we were ignoring it. That seems a little more accurate.

That alarm clock was stable and reliable as could be. It woke me up for school each morning, early morning basketball practice, the SAT’s, college classes, my first job, and my wedding day. It was the clock that told me when it was time to head to the hospital to deliver all of my children. It woke me up for all of the life milestones my mom missed. That clock has moved with me to California, Missouri, Texas, and even England. That Spartus lime green clock has been with me through thick and thin, illuminating all of my sleepless nights as my anxious thoughts kept me awake minute after minute, hour after hour. That clock has been there through it all. A staple on my bedside table for nearly 30 years.

Last month, I noticed my clock was really fast. Eleven minutes too fast. “How did that happen?” I changed it to the correct time and 24 hours later, I noticed it was 12 minutes fast. “That’s odd”, I thought. “I swear I set it right yesterday.” I changed it back and on the 3rd day, it was 13 minutes fast. It was getting faster every day. My clock was malfunctioning. I looked online to see if I could fix it or send it to Spartus for repairs. Unfortunately, Spartus has not been a company for the past couple of decades. My clock was dying.

Surprisingly, my clock dying impacted me more than I would have imagined. For two days straight I was so sad and even nauseous at the thought of my clock being at the end of its life. I knew the clock was the only possession I have that my mom gave me. The only possession I own that she once also touched. That’s it! I have nothing else from her. And now, it is dead! I honestly mourned this loss like another piece of my mom had died. With subtle tears in my eyes, I went to the store and bought a new battery-operated clock. It was blue and had cool new 2018 features. I took it home, set the time and placed it on my nightstand. Unsure of what to do with my old clock, I wrapped the cord around it and set it my closet…just in case I come across someone who can fix my prized 1989 Spartus lime green alarm clock.

Grief is like that. Sometimes, out of nowhere, your alarm clock dies and brings a whole new wave of grief you didn’t even know was in you. Sometimes you find yourself tearing up in Target as you pick out an alarm clock because, for some reason, you pictured your first alarm clock would be your ONLY clock. But life doesn’t always work out the way we hoped it would. 

16 Responses

  1. Tessa Graff
    | Reply

    So good B! You are a great writer because you write like you talk! I love you.💕

    • brandylidbeck
      | Reply

      Thank you, Tessa!

  2. Robin Lee
    | Reply

    Beautiful.

    I am going to think of some way to fix the clock. Or frame it beautifully.

    You are amazing.

    • brandylidbeck
      | Reply

      That sounds like a plan!I’d prefer the fix. 😉

  3. Dee
    | Reply

    Profound and well-written. My Mom died 21 years ago and I have some of her things that I use daily or just as keepsakes, unwilling to let them go. (My Mom did not intentionally end her life. She died from cancer.)

  4. Kristene Elmore
    | Reply

    Thank you for sharing this generous piece. And please remember you do have something of your Mom’s. She gave you your spirit, profound perseverance and your deep understanding of grief —all valuable personal traits of a strong woman. Your mother is with you with each passing moment.

    • brandylidbeck
      | Reply

      Thank you for your kindness, Kristene.

  5. Pam Barnes
    | Reply

    What a beautiful story and so well written and insightful. Thank you so much for sharing.

    • brandylidbeck
      | Reply

      Thank you, Pam.

  6. Joann Jungels
    | Reply

    How fitting that I, too, wanted an alarm clock all of my own for Christmas. What I received was a clock radio! I was so happy to get this, because like you said, it was all mine. I don’t even remember it not working, but I could play my radio station. I finally got a room of my own, and that alarm clock with the radio came with me. I got married, and it came with me again. I don’t know whatever became of that alarm clock, but I will never forget the happiness it brought to me Christmas morning. I am glad you have wonderful memories of something good in yourlife that was dependable. Your mom really did give you a gift, and for me also, our alarm clocks. May time be kind to you from now until forever. Thank you for your story.

    • brandylidbeck
      | Reply

      Thank you, Joann. I appreciate it.

  7. Julie
    | Reply

    Beautifully written Brandy. My husband’s alarm clock has sat next to my bed faithfully for 3 years since he left us. I had given it to him 33 years ago for christmas. Like yours, it’s buttons are getting harder to push, and I fear the end is near. I got a new one last year from my kids, but I returned it..I never connected it with being one of the last pieces of him. Well, that and the handwritten luggage tag I have tucked in my jewelry box.

    Blessings to you this holiday season. 😊

    • brandylidbeck
      | Reply

      Thanks, Julie. If I can somehow find a way to fix it..I would gladly replace the new one with the gifted one. I appreciate that you returned the new one!

  8. Kelley
    | Reply

    Your article made me cry. I understand the eternal significance we may have for something.
    My sister had a beautiful garden that she nurtured over many years. After her death winter came and her home went up for sale. I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving her garden behind for someone else to alter and make their own, so with the help of my husband, I removed what I could take with me including a few bulbs and a tiny succulent plant that somehow stayed green throughout the first harsh winter after her death. The bulbs bloomed this past summer but now that another winter has arrived the succulent is dying out. I worry that it won’t survive. Should I water it? What do I do? How can I keep it alive? It’s a living piece of my sister, it’s the soil she touched and nurtured, the stones laid exactly where she put them. I need it to thrive and stay with me forever!

    After so much tragedy, can I just have this piece of my sister’s garden stay alive? Can you just have your 1989 Spartus lime green alarm clock keep working? Is that too much to ask after so much loss?

    • brandylidbeck
      | Reply

      Oh, sweet Kelley! I pray that succulent stays strong! Let me know how it goes come spring, will ya?

  9. Jean
    | Reply

    A beautiful, beautiful post.

    The hands on the clock will always hold your heart just as you and your mother are entwined. jx

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