The clock ticks off another year
The apple clock clicked forward from 11:59 to midnight as I moved a brush over the surface of a kitchen cabinet. I stopped to wipe a speck of paint off the floor and to consider the day that started with that click.
For me a new year began when Tuesday night moved to Wednesday morning. I know the official start of a year is in January, but my personal beginning is always July 16.
I sat down and leaned back against the stove. The ceiling fan whirled with a swishing sound overhead. Down the hall I heard my daughter making little sounds in her sleep.
As I laid the paint brush down, I looked at the back of my hand.
The once smooth skin is now a series of tiny wrinkles and the veins show through with a blue tint.
On this night, there are dots of paint around the fingernails and a smear across one thumb.
"I need some moisturizer," I say as I open and close my fist.
Even as I say the words I know a gallon of moisturizer won't erase the creases on the backs of these hands.
The clock now reads 12:13 and I know I should put the paint away and head for bed, but I sit listening to the sounds around me, thinking about paint and life and the passage of time.
"I think I'll put another coat of polyurethane on those cabinet doors," I say to myself, "at least on the ones closest to the stove."
That, I hope, will keep the finish looking smooth and new longer.
"Maybe I could put a little of that polyurethane on these thighs," I say laughing as I scratch a dried paint spot off my knee. "Wonder if it could smooth their finish?"
I realize my thought process is getting hazier with each passing minute, but I'm not ready for sleep quite yet.
In a few hours the sun will rise and I'll be up going about the business of living. That is what I'm thinking about a few minutes after midnight -
the business of living, a subject that usually comes to my mind on July 16.
"Another year come and gone," I whisper. "Time sure moves faster these days."
Outside the door my dogs groan and then take off barking at some monster in the dark.
Last year on this day I stood in my parents' kitchen surrounded by my family as they wished me well. Daddy smiled at me across the table. I remember that smile.
The business of living sure brings a lot of changes as the years move by. Wrinkles make places for paint to hide around your knuckles and people who smile at you across kitchen tables aren't there anymore.
I stand up and stretch. My back makes a funny creaking sound as I reach my arms toward the ceiling.
"I'm going to be sore tomorrow," I say putting the top on the paint.
The room plunges into darkness when I hit the light switch. On the stove the lighted clock clicks off another minute - 12:39 p.m.
"Happy Birthday Nancy," I say, stumbling past the paint can on my way to bed.
For more than 24 hours, the family of 11-year-old Robert Dewayne Beck Jr. went through agony, wondering what had happened... read more