My Great Aunt Nell was born in Scotland, the eldest of ten surviving children, in late October, 1877.
Queen Victoria was on the British throne and bearing the title as the newly crowned 'Empress of India'. Alexander Graham Bell had just installed the world's first commercial telephone service in Hamilton, Ontario and Johannes Brahms had just premiered his '2nd Symphony in D' in Vienna.
Great Aunt Nell (my father's Aunt) emigrated to Canada as a young woman and settled in a lovely little home in the woods that stood very near to where the old Woodword's Building was eventually built in 1903. My father would tell me stories of how she would take the boat from Vancouver down the river to visit friends for a week and never even lock her door. My Aunt Nell loved to garden and bake and I've been told that every one of her teacups and saucers that she had collected over the years had a lovely story behind it. I believe we would have like each other enormously.
Great Aunt Nell had a much younger sister, Meg, who also chose to come, as a young woman, out to Canada. As a very little girl I remember Aunt Meg, then well into her eighties, smelling like lavender and giving me mushy, wet kisses.
Although Nell never married, Meg did, albeit later in life, and it was in Nell's house that the wedding took place. Nell decorated her home for Meg and her groom and their attendants with fresh garden flowers and streamers and a lovely meal...
...the wedding cake of course, baked and decorated by Nell herself!
Just a few days ago (two days before Christmas) the phone rang and because I was up to my elbows in flour and dough I was unable to answer the call. Once I had tidied up my hands a bit, I listened to the message which was from my Uncle's wife saying that she was going to be in the area and would like to come by for a visit. I hesitated only a minute (due to the state of myself and my kitchen) before calling her right back and inviting her to 'come on over!'.
Within 15 minutes she was at the door. She quickly ran back to her car stating that she had a 'gift' for me, and as she lifted it from the front passenger seat of her car I knew exactly what it was. As I stood in the doorway, I was overcome with emotion and could hardly utter a single word. She understood.
My Great Aunt Nell had a clock. This clock had been with Nell since she was a young girl, had seen her emigration from Scotland to Canada and had stood watching over the joyful wedding day of Meg and Jimmy.
After Nell's death, this clock had been passed on to her sister, my Great Aunt Meg, and upon the death of Meg was passed on to my Uncle, her nephew, my dad's brother.
My uncle was the last of my father's siblings, my own father having passed away 5 years ago. Due to circumstances within the family, I had not seen my uncle for over 30 years, and it was through the passing of my dad that we were re-united and were able to enjoy a sweet, although too short, time together. My gift this Christmas was Aunt Nell's clock.
Time is a truly wonderful Gift that no one but God Himself can give. We mark the passing of time and the anticipation of time with clocks and calendars and birthdays, we say things like 'I don't have time' or ' when I have time'. We say that our memories 'take us back in time' or that our imaginations propel us to 'look ahead in time'. Love stories claim that when two lovers' meet 'time stands still'. In the Spring we say 'we move time ahead', and in the Fall we say that ''we move time back'. Yet Time cannot be manipulated by our desires or by our circumstances, Time simply... Is. Time is, and always has, remained faithful. Time moves always forward, for you can never really go back; and whether we chart it by years, months or hours, Time remains constant... a beautiful, constant, flow.
Time Himself brought Nell and Meg into existence for an ordained period of time upon this earth. And although Time did not have us to be young at the same moment, the flow of Time goes on and the blessing of Time has brought us somehow together.
This New Year's Eve, my husband and I sat in the glow of candlelight as Aunt Nell's clock chimed in the New Year. Each rich, melodious strike of the 150 year old clock, caused me to think of the Gift of Time watching over us... and to give thanks.