The Tale of the Lucky Shamrock

Meditations in Motion

My mother was lucky.

In fact, she was one of the luckiest people I have ever known.

When I was growing up, our little town had a raffle each year to raise money for local civic organizations. You bought tickets and showed up at the raffle, which was held on our town square. If they called your number, you won a prize donated by local merchants.

My mom won something every year.

Once, she won a television set, another time she won a stereo.

The raffle was held on a Saturday at noon when the stores closed for the weekend.

I remember one year in particular when we were planning to go upstate for a weekend stay at a cabin in the woods. We had to wait to depart until after the raffle.

You had to be there to win, you see.

My dad was agitated; he wanted to get an early start on the three-hour drive but my mom was adamant. We had to stay for the raffle.

As the numbers were pulled, one after another, and my mom’s number was not among the winners, I wondered if her streak was finally coming to an end.

The very last number they pulled that year was for a refrigerator. We all held our breath, then exhaled in a joyous cheer. My mom had won, of course.

Mom won cash from a national magazine sweepstakes, she won when she played Bingo, and she won at casinos.

Boy did she win at the casinos.

Even after a stroke left her cognitively impaired, my sister would take her to the casinos and let her play penny slot machines, which she loved.

Once, when Mom was playing the penny machines and my sister and brother-in-law were nearby, they heard my mom’s name announced over the casino’s public address system.

Every hour, the casino was giving away $1,000 to a random lucky player. Of course, Mom won.

Of course, she did.

I once asked Mom what her secret was.

I clap for luck when I see a white horse“, she told me. “And I grow lucky shamrocks.

Mom always had a pot of shamrocks growing in her bedroom.

When she moved to an assisted living facility after the stroke, I took over the care of her shamrocks.

Now, my thumb is definitely more black than green. I love plants but I have killed an inordinate number of them.

For a plant to survive in my care, they must thrive on neglect, which, surprisingly, shamrocks do.

I water the shamrock weekly, or when I remember it, and every summer, I put it out on my front porch, where it sprouts numerous new leaves.

Before I put the plant outdoors each year, the shamrock is usually down to just a few spindly sprouts. This year, only two sprouts remained.

We had a mid-May cold snap recently. I had already taken my indoor plants outside for the summer.

I know what you’re thinking, but the day before temperatures were predicted to dip below freezing, I brought in all but the hardiest plants, including the shamrock, then took them back outside the next morning.

I congratulated myself on saving the shamrock, feeling pleased for remembering to bring it inside.

The next morning I went outside to water the plants and discovered a catastrophe.

A critter had chewed off the last two shamrock sprouts.

After surviving years of my neglect, a hungry bunny had finally killed my mom’s lucky shamrock.

I was too distraught to move the empty pot (or maybe too lazy), so I just left it on the porch at the same spot where the marauding bunny had decimated it. “Maybe I’ll get another shamrock,” I thought. “Maybe I’ll put a Christmas cactus in the pot.

And then a miracle happened.

A month after the last two sprouts were chewed off, two dozen new sprouts appeared.

My mom’s lucky shamrock is still intact, or at least alive.

Maybe luck travels both ways. Maybe some of my mom’s luck rubbed off on that hardy shamrock.

Maybe some of her luck even rubbed off on me.

Maybe I better start clapping when I see a white horse. Just in case.


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  1. how beautiful! How touching!
    I have not been lucky, but loved hearing the story of your lucky mom… wow, a TV and Stereo back then would have been a very big deal, much less a fridge! We all put up with old worn out fridges!! I like those plants so much, the tiny white flowers and purple leaves. I want one… wonder how I can get one without going to a nursery. Thank you for a perfect story for today.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, the TV and stereo were a very big deal. The TV was a color one – huge! πŸ™‚ If you have a friend with a shamrock, she could probably split it for you. Who knows…maybe you could buy one online.


  2. Oh, how I wish some of your mother’s lucky streak would rub off on me, Laurie. You should see the losing streak I’m on with backgammon games with Danny right now! Lol! All that aside, what an amazing story you’ve shared with us here, and wonderful memories of your mother’s exploits. She sounds like an extraordinarily positive person who attracted positive vibes all around her. I’ll be looking for that white horse, and I’ll be clapping.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That is quite a tale. My shamrock had two leaves a few days ago. I added a little dirt and put it on the porch. The pot is full of leaves now, and you’d never guess how bad it looked before.

    Your mother’s luck was amazing. I’m the opposite. About 50 years ago I won a drawing for a package of hot dogs. The dogs were good, but I’ve won nothing since then.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Years ago, one of Susan’s massage clients gave her a massive aloe plant (which I hate–ugly and in the way) but in the pot around the aloe are a forest of shamrocks. It’s such a random combination, it makes the aloe almost worth keeping. Somehow those shamrocks have jumped into other pots. It would be hard to deny the luck that seems to follow us around. No we never win anything, but we’re healthy and employed.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I am also the kiss of death to houseplants.
    What a heartwarming post, Laurie. I love knowing all this about your mum and your childhood. One of my sons is kind of “lucky” in this way, and his brothers have a fit everytime he wins something.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What a lovely story, they are definitely special shamrocks. I wish my mother had been a lucky person, they say you create your own luck, but I think it’s more a belief in that you create your own luck that’s most important and your Mum certainly had that belief when she made your Dad stay until the end of the raffle that year.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. A wonderful story. Clapping for luck when you see a white horse? I didn’t know about that, but shamrocks with magical charms… well, those are legendary. May the luck stay with you.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. What a nice story! I have tried to grow shamrocks, and just don’t have the magic touch for it. I don’t know if it’s the location, or hydration (not enough? too much?), or maybe bad soil. I should give it a go again…you’ve inspired me πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha! If I only knew what I was doing right, I would let you know. They do really get spindly looking over the winter but if you put them outside in the summer, they come back.


  9. What a lovely story.
    Your mum does sound very lucky! I wish I had half of her luck. I think I need to get myself some shamrocks. hehehe I haven’t got a green finger at all but it sounds like you’re doing well apart from the critters.
    How amazing for the shamrock to survive. x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I think that’s exactly it – she was lucky because she thought she was going to be lucky. I am hoping it will bring me her luck! πŸ™‚


  10. Well that’s a feel-good story if I ever heard one Laurie – we need more stories like this.

    I managed to kill off each of my mom’s houseplants that she had on the windowsill, while she was still confined to bed. I should have taken them to the bedroom and had her water them there.

    Funny you mention the shamrock, as my friend Carol made a Facebook comment last week about gardening and I was mentioning my backyard and lamenting over all the plants, bushes, roses I’ve lost since the 2014 first Polar Vortex – it looks nothing like it used to and I constantly think “do I pull everything out and lay grass or try to reconstruct it and get more flowers?” A Facebook friend of Carol’s, whom I’ve never met, lives in North Carolina and offered to send me two Oxalis which she said is almost invasive at her house assuring me I could not kill them because they are hardy, even in hot August days in Michigan. She cautioned to bring it in when it turned cold. I’d never heard of Oxalis, which I discovered was a shamrock. So she packed up two types and mailed them Thursday, guaranteed delivery Tuesday – they are lost in the mail. Dead before I, no longer with a green thumb like I once had, even got a chance to plant it. πŸ™‚ I told her it’s not necessary to send more because I considered an omen. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Linda. You and I have lots of stories about our moms, don’t we? My mom loved African violets. I just got one not too long ago. A leaf got pinched off, so I planted it in dirt and it sprouted a whole bunch of new leaves. Now I have 2 African violets. I am going to try my best to keep them alive!

      I didn’t lose any outdoor plants to the Polar Vortex as far as I know. I have never heard of Oxalis either. Too bad they got lost in the mail. I would consider that an omen too. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, they are fun memories sometimes plus tender moments to hold onto as well Laurie. I don’t think my mom ever had African Violets; she had cactus plants … they were in the kitchen window and a few individual cacti scattered around the house at different windowsills. My grandmother had African Violets and told me they were difficult to grow – if you water them too much they get “wet feet” and they’re done. Kudos to you for making a second plant.

        You are lucky – I lost so much and the backyard has never been the same after the first Polar Vortex in 2014. The Oxalis has not arrived yet … I am not going to encourage her to send another two plants – like you, I believe it’s an omen.

        Liked by 1 person

      • That makes me feel better about these two Oxalis that finally arrived today … too bad Betty Jean sent them priority mail on June 5th! Then I can hopefully bring them back to life.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Your mother’s plant is gorgeous! I am happy it survived, and continues to survive. It is strong, like you and your mother. I loved reading about her, thank you. She seems cool, having luck like that. Might start clapping, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Plants are so interesting. Before my life got busier, or at least seemed to get busier, I had many. Then I felt like I had enough on my hands taking care of elderly pets, and I pretty much let all the plants go.

    My husband has been caring for a peace lily that friends gave us years ago. He had it at work, because lilys are poisonous for animals. Obviously they’re home now.

    I decided to put them outside so they could get some sun, but I didn’t carefully acclimate them. I almost killed one of them. I took it back inside before it completely died — and wouldn’t you know there were a couple of flowers coming up? The one that’s remained inside isn’t flowering.

    I’m sure there’s a moral there somewhere.

    I can almost envision your dad getting impatient waiting for your mom’s raffle. My dad was not a patient man and wanted to do what he wanted to do when he wanted to do it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I feel guilty for not taking good enough care of my plants to keep them alive sometimes. The guilt doesn’t inspire me to pay them any more attention, though. Unfortunately!

      I have some peace lilies that look pretty ratty right now too. I am hoping they perk up after spending the summer outside.

      Yes, my dad could be impatient too.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Wow your mum certainly does sound like she had quite a lucky streak in her. I used to be the same with raffles but my winning streak has eased off in recent years. I’m so glad that her shamrock managed to survive. I can imagine it must have been devastating to think it had been killed off. #WotW

    Liked by 1 person

    • Unfortunately, I did not inherit my mom’s luck. I was very sad when I thought I had lost something of my mother’s. I was relieved to see all those leaves.


  14. I think most of us know someone who is lucky. My husband’s co-worker always seemed to win the lottery. Many times. And this is your Mother! Quite the story, Laurie. Does this mean you are lucky that she is your Mother? A lovely story. It may depend on our definition of luck.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I’ve never heard the one about clapping when you see a white horse…or growing shamrocks. Interestingly the critters probably saved them by chewing them back. I have oxalis growing in our garden – it’s a weed here – and its known as false shamrock. Maybe I shouldn’t be trying to get rid of it!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I need to RUN to buy a shamrock!! Maybe I, too, can neglect one into thriving at my house. My usual trouble with plants is I love them too much…too much water, too much sunshine, too much attention.

    This story really warmed my heart. Thank you for sharing your mom with us in this post. My brother is about as lucky as your mom…once won a new Kentucky Wildcats Coach Calipari Mustang! He is always winning something. I am the complete opposite.

    But I have revived my mom’s phalaenopsis orchid that I brought home with me in February. Now to learn to spell that word without spell check!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha! Apparently, they do thrive on neglect and abuse. If I can grow one, anyone can.

      Wow! My mom was lucky but she never won a new car! That’s awesome!!!

      I am a terrible speller. I depend on spell-check.


  17. What a wonderful story and a wonderful memory. As I read, I remembered that my mom had a shamrock plant at some point. But alas and alack, I too am a certified plant killer. I over water or under water, too much sun, or not enough sun. Thanks for sharing this memory of your mom! Michele

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I once had a friend who was as lucky as your mum. Her mother was lucky as well. One day they both went to a big state fair and played some game where you could win a clock. When I went to her house the next day there were about 8 clocks! Between the two of them they kept on winning.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Such a beautiful story, Laurie! ❀️ It also made me think of my mother, who was also always very lucky- particularly at Bingo and Slots! So nice that you have those wonderful memories to reflect on, and so touching that you can still be reminded of your mother each time you see her shamrock plant! ❀️

    Liked by 1 person

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