I was lying in bed this morning and all I could hear was the ticking of one of my wrist watches. It got me thinking about what life would be like when my daughter eventually moves out…!

Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick.

It’s all she can hear above the quiet. The stillness has its own rhythm. The house is empty of its children now, all of whom are grown. No TV with its jangling commercials, no hushed telephone conversation with a new boyfriend, no footsteps tripping over themselves up the hallway, no angry voices carving out territory over new toys.

This house has emptied itself of children. It has turned them out and sent them on their way. The work of this generation is complete. She wanders from room to room on occasion, sometimes, just listening. The memories ricochet in time with the tick, tick, tick of the old grandfather clock buried somewhere deep in the house.

Outside, a car door bangs shut.

Raised voices.

Laughter.

A key turning in the lock.

Feet landing heavy on pine floors.

They are home.

She scoops up her grandchildren and kisses each of their upturned faces. The work of a new generation has started.

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