We had two visitors this weekend. Ben’s mum and sister made a 400 mile round trip to spend the afternoon with us. I say us, I mean Oscar 😉 They’ve done it a couple of times before. They share the driving. Rachel enjoys some time off from mummy duties and I think Catherine rather enjoys having Rachel to herself for a couple of hours. I like to think it’s as much for them as it is for us.
This time they also had another reason for coming. They bought with them Ben and Rachel’s paternal grandmother’s antique grandfather clock.
We found out back in 2007, that Ben was to be left the clock in Betty’s will. She told us on the night of our engagement party. The family story tells us that the clock was originally made in the 17th Century by a Tapp family member and had been in the family every since. Betty made it clear that guardianship of this piece, one day, would be passed to Ben. At the time he was flattered and rather touched that she trusted him with, what has always been, such an important piece to her.
In the intervening years Betty, this tall, strong, opinionated, strong willed, wonderful woman, has developed Alzheimer’s and latterly has moved into nursing accommodation. As her condition worsened in became obviously that her house would need to be sold to finance this intensive care. This is how Ben has come to receive his inheritance while his grandmother is still with us. It made him rather uncomfortable at first, but we discussed it and agreed that the clock would be better off with us, than placed into storage.
This is how it ended up in pieces, in the back of Rachel’s card, whizzing across the south of England last Saturday and is now sat in our bedroom, out of the reaches of Oscars curious hands, awaiting professional restoration and installation.
It really is a beautiful piece and Ben and I spent ages, sat on the floor, discovering it, last Saturday night. It clearly needs a bit of TLC, but wouldn’t you if you were that old? It’s age is apparent manly in the many little repairs and different aged pieces on it. It’s like seeing the many hands that have touched is over the years and it brings home just how honoured we are to have been entrusted with this beautiful piece of family history.
It also shows me where Oscar fits into this line. He is the next generation, the next steward of family history and I feel we have a responsibility to find out and pass on as much information both about the piece and the family as we can.
I know Betty would be thrilled to know the clock is with Ben. I don’t know if she’s been told, I don’t know if she’d know who Ben is. But I wish I could tell her how much we love her and how much we will love this clock, much as she did and that one day in the future this amazing piece of family history will be passed on to the next generation.