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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