Sunday, June 27, 2010
The summer before my freshman year in college, my great aunt died. She was one of my favorite people on earth. She was born in 1900. I loved that she was the perfect age for each of the decades she lived in. The twenties were the perfect time to be in your twenties or the forties to be in your forties. Her name was Mildred but I called her Oo-hoo. When I was little, she would come to the door and ask "Oo-hoo, anyone home?" I just assumed she was calling out her name. She spent her adult life on the faculty at the University of Kentucky, and I would send mail to her addressed to Oo-hoo. I'm sure the mailman wondered about that.
When Oo-hoo died, my uncle and I were packing up her belongings. My uncle, who is more like a brother to me given our close ages, found a rhinestone clock in a drawer. We both joked about how ugly it was and who would get it. I don't know what possessed me but I hid it in the trunk of things he was having sent to his home in San Francisco. I forgot about the clock until Christmas Eve. There was a present from my uncle that had a strange note attached. Christmas morning, that was the first present I opened - suspecting it was the clock. Sure enough, it was. Thus became our ritual of passing the clock back and forth. In the beginning, we were rather boring. We would send it with a Christmas present or Birthday present. The clock would travel across the country a few times a year. We decided to get more creative in our passing of the clock. My uncle once slipped it to my husband during a family dinner, and he placed it on my nightstand during the middle of the night. I woke up to discover it. I had a co-worker who was traveling to San Francisco deliver it to his office while he was at lunch. His most original method was to send me a wooden box that looked like a clock face. I was sure I was going to open it up and discover the clock. When I lifted the lid, I found my favorite Grandma See's candy. I reached in to take a few and yes, found the clock underneath the candy. I managed to slip the clock in the pocket of his coat at the airport, saying goodbye. He found the clock as he went through airport security. I also sent it to him at the end of daylight savings taking advantage of the line, "time to change your clock".
We should have marked the back of the clock each time it was being shipped. At best estimate, it has been across the country over a hundred times. The joke was always the first to die was buried with it. Now that it has so much history, that won't happen. It's a family heirloom. I am sure Oo-hoo would have enjoyed this all.
The clock is in San Francisco right now. I can't wait to find out how it makes its next appearance. I will keep you posted.