I love stories of “new beginnings” and this is one such story … and a true story at that! It is a story about a clock, a very old clock that began its journey long, long ago, in the province of Friesland, the Netherlands (birthplace of my late 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 Hans and I married, the clock 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, about six months after Hans died. During my Quiet Time one morning, 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 several weeks and each time I thought about it, peace filled my heart and mind. I wrote Hans’ brother and wife, their daughter and son in law, sharing what I was thinking of doing with the clock … send it back to his homeland – in the Netherlands – and was gratified by the response of them all.
As a result, I contacted a shipping company and the clock began its journey. And here is where a miracle/mystery enters the story. Soon after Hans died, 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 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 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’? The clock is safely back in the Netherlands, proudly displayed in the home of Hans’ brother and his wife’s daughter, our niece, her husband and daughter, our great-niece. When the clock arrived in their home, she proudly remarked that she will pass the clock on to her children and their children with a copy of this story tucked into the clock for generations to know its history for she knows that in time, she will inherit the clock. I know that the future of the clock is secured … and that’s a happy ‘ending’ … a happy ‘beginning’ to this story.