Big Ben Rang Again

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Beginning  in June  1966 I felt  something  terrible  was going   to happen to a member  of my  family,  but I didn’t  know  who.  This feeling was shared by other  members  of the  family  -my husband Paul Kennedy, our twin daughters Elaine and Ellen, and our two sons Paul Jr. and Andrew.

Being a religious family, we prayed, but the feeling persisted.  A year later,  on June  1 1967, my beloved husband went  fishing and accidentally  drowned. Andy was  in the air force en route to the Panama Canal Zone,  but received a thirty-day leave for  the funeral, as did Paul,  Jr. who also  was in  the air force, stationed in Thailand. Ellen  came from  Houston, but Elaine, in Anchorage, Alaska , was ill and couldn’t come.

After the  funeral we talked  of all the  things we had  done  together and all the fun we  had had, just as every family  does after a  death. Andy commented that ” Big Ben” was  still empty as it was  when he left  for the air force.

This was a  family  joke. Before enlisting  in the service Andy had slept  on the third floor of  our big  old  house.  He was hard to wake in the morning, so after Andy was asleep  his father used to  set a huge antique alarm clock in a pan  by his bed.

Every morning Andy would remove  the insides  from big  Ben (as we  called the  clock) and hide  them. Paul  would  search until he  found the insides, put the clock  back together and reset it for the  next morning. And so the game had continued.

The morning Andy left for the air force,  he removed Big Ben’s insides and hid  them as usual,  but Paul had no reason  to hunt for them. In fact, he seldom went  up to the third floor  at all  after Andy left.

The morning after the funeral Andy came  downstairs white-faced, holding Big Ben-now intact-in his hands.  He was  angry;  he thought one of us  had found the clock’s works, replaced them, and set it as a joke. But not  one of us  had even been up to  his third-floor room.

The incident really shook us when  we realized  this was  Paul’s way of  letting  us know he was still with us.

Matilda Kennedy Jumper

 Marion, Indiana

April 1976

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