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