A Time to Keep

My Dad’s clock stopped.

For 60 years it gave faithful service, counting moments, one by one, it’s steady tick lulled Mum’s only grand daughter to sleep on childhood sleepovers, and kept Mum company in old age. She always called it “your Dad’s clock” dusted it, moving it carefully, it was her pride: Mum outlived Dad by 36 years, and his clock outlived him by 49.

I bought a new one, with carved, wooden housing like, the old one. The new one has a modern quartz movement and no tick.

I told my sister, ‘I’ve put the old one on Mum’s dresser. I can’t bring myself to throw it out’

Always the practical one, she said,’You can’t keep everything.’

But, I guess I can keep the old clock a bit longer, just as I keep my mother’s diaries,

Mostly, Mum recorded the weather. Visits from growing grandchildren, and my two brothers and sister, are reported faithfully, times when they were ill, her worries and concerns for us all, our joys were her joys. Gathered together they tell the story of Mum’s life, and that of her family. They provide dates for half forgotten events, they tell us the way we were.

Kept safely for us in Smethwick Library Archive are issues of St Giles Parish Magazine from over 100 years ago. They too tell people’s stories, they Chronicle long forgotten events, record milestones. They bring to life that gone-forever Rowley Village known to our grandparents, great grandparents; they are a Treasure worth keeping.

Today’s Magazine still ‘keeps’ the names of newlyweds, the names of the newly baptised, and the names of those called home. Church events are reported on, dates are noted and people share their stories. “Around the Congregation” is very popular, a different person, (not always a church member) opens up their book of life for us

While it may be true that we don’t have celebrities amongst us, we certainly do have those whose live’s are worth sharing, those whose stories inspire and challenge us. This is how it should be. We learn from one another, and each of us, aware of it or not, is adding moment by moment to the history of our times.

Maybe, thinking nothing interesting, nothing worth recording ever happens to you, you’ve never kept a Diary – perhaps you should think again. Perhaps in years to come an entry that begins
“It was our Sue’s birthday today,” and goes on to describe your thoughts, your feelings, even that it rained, will be treasure to Sue and Sue’s children.


There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:

A time to search and a time to give up,
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
(Ecclesiastes 3: 1, 6)

We live in a world of searching people, seeking people, looking for their roots, meaning for their lives, the keeping of a diary, is good time keeping, our life stories are the very fabric of time.



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