I love stories of “new beginnings” and this is one such story.
It is a true story about a clock (photo attached) that began its journey well over a hundred years ago in the province of Friesland, the Netherlands (birthplace of my husband Hans van der Werff) where tradition had it that when a couple married, an integral part of their home furnishings was a Friesland clock.
Hans’ grandparents (Pake and Beppe) bought such a clock at public auction and even though it “was terribly dirty and did not work,” Pake loved it. Determined to get it back to its original working order, he patiently and gently cleaned it, working countless hours on it and finally, the timepiece worked again and the clock became a focal point of pride in the family home for decades.
When Pake and Beppe died, the clock Pake had lovingly brought back to life, was given to Hans’ parents. Hans remembered it “always being in our home” when he was growing up and it was a lovely memory of his childhood.
But when WW11 interrupted their lives and the Nazis began to realize that there could be value in Fryslan clocks, homes were raided and clocks were stolen unless they had been hidden. Not surprisingly, when it was learned that the van der Werff family clock was on the Nazi’s acquisition desirable list, the clock was quickly dismantled and hidden.
Gratefully, it was never discovered during WW11. But after the war, it was still considered to be a valuable commodity, so the family decided that it would be best to get it out of the country for safekeeping. The clock was taken out of hiding and stored until Hans was next in Holland … he had moved to Canada as a young man but often travelled back to Holland as part of his work in those days.
Together, the brothers made a solid wooden box into which they gently placed the clock. Shipping to Canada was arranged, the clock safely arrived and over the decades, Hans lovingly cared for the clock and proudly displayed it in every home in which he lived, cherishing the memories of his childhood, his parents, siblings and grandparents.
When we married, the clock moved with him again and came to live with us. I was delighted, for its presence was a wonderful connection both to Hans’ Dutch roots and now ‘our’ Dutch family.
Hans and I often talked about the clock and he spoke of wanting it to stay with me in our home (should he die before I did), where it was loved and its history was respected. That was the plan.
Well, it was the plan until one morning during my Quiet Time when an image of the clock being packed up and heading across the ocean back to Holland filled my thoughts. I lived with that possibility for quite a while and each time I thought about it, peace filled my heart. So, I wrote Hans’ brother and wife, their daughter and son in law, sharing what I was thinking of doing with the clock and was gratified by the response of them all.
As a result, I contacted a shipping company and the clock began its journey to Holland – back home.
And here is where miracle/mystery enters the story. Soon after Hans died this past summer, the clock that his brother Peter and his wife had in their home, stopped working. No reason – it just stopped! Peter tried to fix it, but he wasn’t able to. One day, he found a clockmaker who was able to repair it, but the cost was too high to be considered, so Peter headed home knowing that the clock would not be repaired.
As it happened (nawww, not a coincidence <g>), the Friesland-Canada clock was being picked up that very day at the Rotterdam dock (!) and at the moment Peter got the phone call saying that the clock had arrived safely and had been picked up, his wife noticed that the clock in their home (that hadn’t been working) began to work! No one had touched it. It just started … miraculously/mysteriously.
Each one of us, independently, agreed: “Hans fixed it and is telling us that he is so very happy that the clock has returned back to Holland.”
So the ending of this story is that the clock has returned from whence it came. Or is it really ‘the ending’?
While all stories have an ending – this story has both an ending – and a new beginning!
Knowing the people of at least three generations who will welcome and love the family clock into their homes over the decades, I know that its future is secured … and that’s a happy ‘ending’ … er, happy ‘beginning’ to this story.
(P.S. I took the photo of the clock, but it’s a very large clock and I couldn’t step back far enough to get all of it in the photo. The length of the chain is really long!
Photo & Text © june maffin