Monday, January 31, 2011

Changing of the guard.

I’ve had my alarm clock for 18 years. It was a wedding present from my cousin Todd.

Todd was one of those cousins who was more like a brother than a cousin. In my earliest memories, Todd is there. He and my brother used to endlessly torment me when we were very young. They would lock me out of the house and try to scare the crap out of me when I turned a corner…but as we grew up, the relationship changed. It was an easy, fun relationship. In our teen years, I would fix Todd up with my friends, and in return he drove me around to get job applications and took me shopping at the mall.

On my wedding day, Todd was there, large as life. He smiled and laughed like nobody’s business…and true to form, as soon as the reception ended; there he was with his shirt off…running around like he owned the place.

But on that day…the best of all days…Todd gave Ryan and I this alarm clock.

Inside the alarm clock was a mixed cassette tape of Beatles songs that we could wake up to. Todd had made this tape himself, and although the mechanism broke many years ago…this alarm clock sat in my heart as one of my favorite gifts. It was practical AND thoughtful.

But 18 years on an alarm clock can be rough…especially one given to hard times like our own. That alarm clock has been used, overused and abused. Despite its faults though, it was completely reliable! And it was, as I said, from Todd.

Todd passed away 4 years after my wedding day. He was only 27 at the time. He passed in his sleep from an aneurism.

(This is the only pic I have of Todd at my wedding. I found this in the background of a picture of Ryan taking off my garter. I’m sure my brother was saying something snarky about me when the picture was snapped. Todd is the one without the bow tie.)

After his passing…the alarm clock became even more special to me. It was like a member of the family…like a guardian angel that would wake me to check sugars. Old faithful for sure! But through obvious wear and tear, and sad overuse…the alarm clock was coming to its end. It wouldn’t tune into the radio anymore. I could only wake up to white noise. Loud. Startling. White. Noise. (Not cool.) And the mix tape had long since been destroyed by a rouge toddler.

But even with all its faults…it never once occurred to me to replace it.

Last week we were at Costco buying an iHome for B with his Christmas money. He had gotten an iPod Touch and wanted a convenient way to charge it. They were only 35 bucks. “Hey…I’ll get one for my iPhone too,” I said. When we got it home and I opened the box, I found that there was a free alarm clock app that came with it.

I downloaded the awesome app and looked over at the alarm clock Todd had given me. I didn’t buy the iHome with the intention of getting rid of our old alarm clock. But here it was…ready to wake me with music from my iPod library. It was a heavier moment than I expected when I wrapped up the old alarm clock. I couldn’t throw it away, so it sits on the top shelf of my closet for now.

I got NO sleep the first night I used the new alarm clock. I was so worried it wouldn’t go off! Heck…I didn’t KNOW this alarm clock! We had just met! We had no history, how was I to know that it was reliable? I had to do two test alarms before I could go to sleep…just to make sure I was programming it correctly, and I kept waking up in the wee hours of the morning, staring at it… wondering if it would do its job as well as my old one had. In the end, it did wake me up. Quite sweetly I must say. It starts at a lower volume and then gradually gains its voice to wake me. I love it. I absolutely love it.

I can just picture all the alarm clocks that belong to the army of D parents and D peeps the world over. I’m sure there are many with worn buttons and broken parts. I’m sure there are a few that have been thrown across the room. (I’m ashamed to say that the clock Todd gave me has seen its share of floor time.)

I had no idea how significant the gift of an alarm clock would be on my wedding day. On that day I didn’t know that there would be nights that I would be setting the alarm to go off every hour, on the hour. I didn’t know of Our Diabetic life, or the heartache and worry that was ahead of me. Our boys were just a twinkle in our eyes back then.

I’m sure Todd had no idea either. But today I want to take a moment to thank him for it. It has been a good companion and provided a life saving service for our family many times over…many years over.

I know our family has been given guardian angels to watch over the boys. I know it. So it leaves me to wonder, has Todd taken the post? Is the alarm clock a symbol of his steadfast duty?

I don’t know. But the thought of it makes me smile through these tears.

God bless alarm clocks...

And God bless Guardian Angels.


  1. Meri-I'm so sorry for your loss. I am sure even many years later the tenderness is still there. Loss definitely hurts and seems to come and go with no warning.

    I'd love to hear how B likes the ihome, too...I was thinking about getting one for my nephew. What a good deal.

  2. Tearing up over here in VT! What a wonderful story about your cousin and the "trusty" ol' alarm clock.

    BTW...I can totally relate to the not knowing the alarm clock bit and waking up every hour to make sure it isn't time to wake up yet...not trusting the "new guy" on duty.

    Love ya Meri!

  3. Wonderful story!! I use my cell phone alarms (because I can set 3 alarm times for the night) and with each passing cell phone I FREAK out about trusting it! Just another little secret all D Moms share!

    Im happy to hear your alarm clock from someone SO special was in fact, him as your guardian angel as well for so long :)

  4. He sounds like a card and I can imagine him looking down saying "Can't believe you kept it that long!"

    Sometimes it's the simplest things that make our hearts sing.

  5. I think of all of the posts I have read by you, this may well be a favorite, Meri.

    Such a sweet story. Thank you for sharing. And good luck with the new guy on duty! ;o)

  6. Donna and I believe without a doubt that my grandmother, who died in 2007, has visited us several times and has rescued Jacob from a low twice... so don't doubt that Lawton isn't the only one watching over the boys.

  7. The memory associated with that alarm clock is worth preserving, even if the clock itself has seen better days! A college roommate/friend of mine passed away from cancer a few years ago and he was similarly quite young. I had gone to my sister's in Florida for Christmas that year (the first time ever away from my parents') and I remember him calling me that Christmas morning, which was completely unexpected. He already had cancer at the time, but the call is one of those things that stand out in my memory. I think the alarm clock is a symbol, and one that doesn't necessarily need to be discarded but can be saved even if you migrate to using a newer alarm clock. Some things are worth saving not for the item themselves, but for the associations that go with them.

  8. God bless cousin Todd. I believe I would have liked him! I love the idea of Todd helping you to watch over your boys. Missed your "voice", glad you're back.

  9. Todd's alarm clock has a very special ought to print this out and wrap it up for safe keeping. One day, there may come a day that you pull out this trusty companion to share it with someone.

    I love this precious story. Thanks for sharing.

  10. I remember Todd, and how hard and surprising his death was to the whole family--especially our brother. Everyone loved to give him a hard time; maybe the clock's static and longevity was his way of giving you a hard time over those years. Love that picture.

  11. who would have thought a story about an alarm clock could bring tears to my eyes! As always, Meri, you have a way with words. Such a beautiful story.

  12. So touching. Who knew the depth of power an alarm clock could have?

  13. I gotta stop reading your blog because you make me cry so often. Not really. Couldn't give you up, 'cause I adore you so much. Last night was a rare 3-alarm night for me, so can only imagine what you do every single night. I've got it easy, and you inspire me. <3 Mo

  14. Oh Meri! I loved this! What sweet memories. I'd never part with that clock. Funny how something so simple can be so profound. I think the alarm clock could be an official D Mama symbol!

  15. what a sweet gift that gave so much for so long.

  16. lol I have to admit. I rarely use my alarm clocks (yep, I said clockS, plural LOL!). I have an alarm clock in the bedroom--hubby uses it mostly for work. I have one in the living room that I bought thinking Id use it at night between checks, or during the afternoon while kids are in school. But, I think Ive only ever used it maybe twice, both times were during daylight hours lol! I have had this sleep pattern for the last 2 yrs and 4 months. I stay up most of the night (if not all night), take a nap after dinner (so lay down around 6pm) and sleep till about 11pm or 11:30pm, depending on what time hubby wakes me up before he lays down. He does the bedtime snack routine, bathes the kids, etc. while I nap. Then I start my day all over again. I have tried changing my sleep patterns, but, internal clocks are harder to change than physical alarm clocks LOL!

    There are times that I have laid down between night checks though, and did not set the alarm in the living room because I was afraid it would wake up the kids or hubby at 3am lol! Those nights, like some other ppl here that have commented (and like you with your new alarm clock lol!), I usually wind up waking up every 15-20 mins, checking the time, to make sure I dont oversleep! LOL!

  17. I have now added something new to my 'first time I ...... ' list, thanks to you Meri.

    This is the first time I cried over an alarm clock. Not even a broken one! No, no. Just one who is old and sentimental and had been steady as a rock one who was replaced by new technology.


    These are the type of posts I really love. Full of humor, real life and gut wrenching tears. Ahhhhhhh.

  18. i was just randomly reminiscing today about the little travel alarm clock my mom used to pack in with my snacks to remind me to eat them every morning when i was in elementary school. the thought just popped into my head while i was on my lunch break and made me smile. Thank God for great Moms too :)

  19. Meri,

    What a beautiful post. I can really feel your love for your cousin Tood, and the unspoken protection he provided you and your family through all the long nights.


Moderation now enabled, so comments will not immediately be seen.