* By Noelene Green
My Aunt Kathleen had the most hideous antique clock that sat pride of place in the middle of her mantel piece above the old gas heater in her loungeroom.
I’d always joked with her about how ugly it was and she’d rib me in return, promising that she’d leave it to me in her will.
As it turned out, Aunt Kathleen hadn’t been joking ...
I was backpacking through Europe and had stopped off in London for a week or so when I got the email from my mum, telling me that my favourite aunty had died in her sleep the night before. The funeral was to be held the following Wednesday at 3.00 o’clock, so I made arrangements to be home in Australia in time. My flight from Heathrow airport was due to leave at 3.00 the following afternoon.
I felt sad that Aunt Kathleen had passed over, but I also felt a sense of relief as I knew that she’d been suffering for some months prior to her death.
Her funeral was a bit of a circus as it turned out, but that was just the way she would have liked it. Amongst the tears there was much laughter as we all spoke of Aunt Kath’s antics and adventures over the years.
The following Friday after her funeral, the family gathered at Aunt Kathleen’s home to sort through her belongings. We all knew that meticulously organized Aunt Kath had put labels on all of her personal possessions, denoting who got what.
As it turned out, Aunt Kathleen’s ghastly antique clock had been left to lucky me.
As I gingerly packed the horrid old clock in my car it chimed 3 times, signalling that it was 3 o’clock on the dot. Aunt Kath had always been a stickler about having the clock set at precisely the correct time.
Once home I placed Aunt Kath’s clock on a side-table in my loungeroom. I would have preferred to hide it at the back of a wardrobe somewhere, or better still, not in my home at all, but out of love and respect for Aunt Kathleen I put it out on display.
The clock didn’t make a sound again until 3.00 o’clock in the morning. I heard it from my bedroom because it seemed to be so loud that it had woken me up. I thought it odd that the dreadful old clock only seemed to chime at 3.00 o’clock day and night, but never at any other time. I decided not to question it though and promptly fell back to sleep.
Two weeks after Aunt Kathleen’s funeral my mother dropped by for lunch, bearing old photos and assorted knick-knacks belonging to Aunt Kathleen. The hours flew by as we chatted away catching up on who was doing what within the family. At 3.00 o’clock Aunt Kathleen’s hideous old clock chimed 3 times.
Both Mum and I turned to look at the clock sitting boldly on the table. We both commented on how ugly it was and chuckled about Aunt Kath bequeathing it to me as she’d always threatened to. I told Mum that it only ever chimed at 3.00 o’clock day and night, but at no other time.
Mum looked at me with a surprised look on her face and reminded me that number 3 had been Aunt Kathleen’s favourite number. It was the time she’d been born (on the 3rd of March), it was the time she’d chosen to marry, the time she’d diligently taken her daily afternoon nap, the time of her funeral, and also the time she had died.
A shiver ran through me when she’d told me the last piece of information. I hadn’t known that part. I knew Aunt Kathleen had passed in her sleep, but I hadn’t realized that 3.00 o’clock had been the exact time that she’d died.
I again turned to stare at the old clock, intrigued yet comforted in a strange kind of way.
I’ve kept the old clock on display in my loungeroom ever since, and it doesn’t seem so ugly to me anymore. It still only chimes 3 times at 3.00 o’clock day and night. Hearing it makes me think of my Aunt Kathleen, and I like to think that it is her, saying hello from beyond.
* True Story contributed by Noelene Green
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