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If I heard its soft but rapid tick I would say, 'Still with us then, Johnny boy?



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

The Art of Dying – Drs Peter and Elizabeth Fenwick

Peter Turnbull described how a small battery-operated clock of his father's stopped at the time of his father's twin brother's death. It was restarted easily without a change of battery and then ran perfectly until his father began to develop dementia, when the clock started to speed up, until towards the end of his father's life it was going about twice as fast as normal and was useless as a timepiece.

I knew that it would stop when he died, and I got into the habit of putting my ear to the clock, and if I heard its soft but rapid tick would say, 'Still with us then, Johnny boy?'

In fact when his father did die, Mr Turnbull forgot to look at the clock for two or three days, but then found it had indeed stopped - at 4.37 a.m., eight minutes before the officially given time of death at 4.45 a.m.

I will never know whether the clock stopped in anticipation as if having some prior knowledge of the moment of his death or whether by chance it was showing the right time at the moment he died. Anyway I opened, the clock, withdrew the battery, superglued the thing shut and put it back on the shelf with my father's flat cap on top of it. It sits there still, shouting the time of my dad's death. A bit morbid for some, but my dad was a good egg.

The source of the experience

Ordinary person

Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items

Activities and commonsteps



Dementia and Alzheimers