Authors: Richard Paul Evans
Thank you for purchasing this Simon & Schuster eBook.
Join our mailing list and get updates on new releases, deals, bonus content and other great books from Simon & Schuster.
or visit us online to sign up at
It is a pleasure to express my appreciation and love to the following.
My wife, Keri. Jenna, Allyson-Danica, and Abigail, for sharing their Dad with the world.
My two Lauries: Laurie Liss, I could not have asked for a better agent or friend; and my editor, Laurie Chittenden, thank you for coming, thank you for making
better. Carolyn Reidy, Mary-Ann Naples, and all my friends at S&S who believed we could make history with
The Christmas Box
and then did. Isolde
Sauer and Beth Greenfeld for additional editing assistance. Mary Schuck. William Barfus, Janet Bernice, and the gracious assistance of the Utah Historical Society. Ann Deneris. Chris Harding and Beth Polson, for believing in signs. My brother Mark for everything. Evan Twede for friendship, perspective, and TGI Friday's. Mary Kay Lazarus and Elaine Pine-Peterson. The Beutlers: Bill, Cora, and Scott. Mike Hurst. John Stringham, who, in many ways, made this book possible. Senator Robert F. Bennett and Michael Tullis. Mayor Deedee Coradini and Governor Mike Leavitt for inviting the world to Salt Lake City. SLC Cemetery Sexton Paul Byron. My parents, David and June Evans, for their work with The Christmas Box Foundation, and, of course, everything else. Ortho and Jared Fairbanks who sculpted the angel. Cathi Lammert of SHARE Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support, Inc.
And to the dreamers who are bound with golden braceletsâmy brother, Barry J. Evans, Celeste Edmunds, Shelli Holmes, and Michele Feldt. Thank you for believing.
Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support, Inc., offers support to parents who have lost a baby through miscarriage, stillbirth, or early infant death. For more information please call: 1-800-821-6819.
To my wife, Keri,
and to my mother,
Both of whom have given me life.
The only promise of childhood is that it will end.
I find myself astonished at mankind's persistent yet vain attempts to escape the certainty of oblivion; expressed in nothing less than the ancient pyramids and by nothing more than a stick in a child's hand, etching a name into a freshly poured sidewalk. To leave our mark in the unset concrete of timeâsomething to say we existed.
Perhaps this is what drives our species to diaries, that some unborn generation may know we once loved, hated, worried, and laughed. And what is there to this?
Maybe nothing more than poetic gesture, for diaries die with their authorsâor so I once believed. I have learned there is more to the exercise. For as we chronicle our lives and the circumstances that surround them, our perspectives and stretching rationales, what lies before us is our own reflection. It is the glance in the mirror that is of value. These are my words on the matter and I leave it at thisâif we write but one book in life, let it be our autobiography.
The most valuable of the keepsakes left in the attic of the Parkin mansion were thought worthless by the auctioneers of the estate. They were the leather-bound diaries of David Parkin. A lifetime of hopes and dreams, thought of no significance by those who value only what could bring cash at an auction block. The diaries came into my possession shortly after we took leave of the mansion, and it was within the
pages of David's diary that I found the meaning of MaryAnne Parkin's last request. For this reason, I have shared his words throughout my narrativeâfor without them, the story would be incomplete.
And if it is nothing more than poetic gesture, then still I am justified.
For poetry, like life, is its own justification.
The Grandfather's Clock
“Of all, clockmakers and morticians should bear the keenest sense of priorityâtheir lives daily spent in observance of the unflagging procession of timeÂ .Â .Â . and the end thereof.”
David Parkin's Diary. January 3, 1901
When I was a boy, I lived in horror of a clockâa dark and foreboding specter that towered twice my height in the hardwood hallway of my childhood home and even larger in my imagination.
It was a mahogany clock, its hood rising in two wooden cues that curled like
horns on a devil's head. It had a brass-embossed face, black, serpentine hands, and a flat, saucer-sized pendulum.
To this day, I can recall the simple and proud incantations of its metallic chime. At my youthful insistence, and to my father's dismay, the strike silent was never employed, which meant the clock chimed every fifteen minutes, night and day.
I believed then that this clock had a soulâa belief not much diminished through age or accumulated experience. This species of clock was properly called a longcase clock, until a popular music hall song of the nineteenth century immortalized one of its ilk and forever changed the name. The song was titled “My Grandfather's Clock,” and during my childhood, more than a half century after the song was written, it was still a popular children's tune. By the age of five, I had memorized the song's lyrics.
My grandfather's clock was too large for the shelf,
so it stood ninety years on the floor,
It was taller by half than the old man himself,
tho' it weighed not a penny-weight more.
It was bought on the morn of the day that he was born,
and was always his treasure and pride,
But it stopp'd short never to go again
when the old man died.
My fear of the hallway clock had its roots in the song's final refrain.
But it stopp'd short never to go again
when the old man died.
When I was young, my mother was sickly and often bedridden with ailments I could neither pronounce nor comprehend. With the reasoning and imagination of
childhood, I came to believe that if the clock stopped, my mother would die.
Often, as I played alone in our quiet house after my brothers had left for school, I would suddenly feel my heart grasped by the hand of panic and I would run to my mother's darkened bedroom. Peering through the doorway, I would wait for the rise and fall of her chest, or the first audible gasp of her breath. Sometimes, if she had had an especially bad day, I would lie awake at night listening for the clock's quarter-hour chime. Twice I ventured downstairs to the feared oracle to see if its pendulum was still alive.
To my young mind, the clock's most demonic feature was the hand-painted moon wheel set above its face in the clock's arch. Mystically, the wheel turned with the waning moon, giving the clock a wizardry that, as a child, transfixed and mystified me as if it somehow knew the
mysterious workings of the universe. And the mind of God.
It is my experience that all childhoods have ghosts.