Silly Songs and Funny Faces

Mack loved eating, spending time with animals, and watching her favorite television shows, but I believe her favorite activity was making people laugh. For my funny girl, laughter was the essential ingredient for a good life; and I can say with certainty that Mack laughed every single day of her wonderful life. Laughter soothed Mack’s soul, and she developed a passion to evoke laughter in the people around her. She loved to be the cause of a good giggle, to bring on a big belly laugh, or to start a contagious chuckle; and she was particularly delighted if she could cause you to blow soda out of your nose.

Mack employed various strategies for unleashing an outbreak of laughter around her, and her methods reflected the sensibilities of her own inner child. She made up silly songs and sang them in ridiculous voices, and she performed her own unique renditions of popular songs. In a squeaky register, for example, Mack would sing: “And I’m on tonight, you know my hips don’t lie, and I’m starting to feel it’s right,” mimicking the singer Shakira but also adding a Mack-silly twist by singing out of the side of her pursed lips. Mack danced like a fool, could talk right through a belch or a yawn, told stories in a horrendous cockney accent, and always ratcheted up the teen slang with a heavy dose of nerd. Mack relished her repertoire of really, really bad jokes (many straight off of Laffy Taffy wrappers), and she made up her own dumb jokes as well. Of her Mack originals, one of my personal favorites was: “Why did the squirrel cross the road?” There were many that started with this question (and others that started with a chicken), but every time Mack began a joke in this way, she would lean in with an expectant look on her face and pause as she waited for her victim to nod, and then she would shout out the nonsensical answer: “Because there was bacon on the other side!” Mack would usually start giggling before she could offer the entire punchline, and people were laughing before they even knew just how bad the joke was going to be.

But while silly singing, crazy voices, and lousy jokes were useful tools of her laughter-seeking occupation, it was probably the art of the funny face that drew the most laughter. Mack could suck in her lips or bug out her eyes and make us all laugh without saying a single word. Mack’s humor was mostly of the low-brow variety, was usually self-deprecating, and was always fair and good-natured; and since she liked to use herself as the target for most of her humor, she rarely engaged in excessive teasing or orchestrated practical jokes at the expense of others. But there was one practical joke that Mack deemed particularly successful for the laughter it produced; and because it is a personal favorite Mack-story of “Stapes,” Mack’s beloved high school golf and softball coach,” I offer it here in his words:

“One evening after a golf match, the girls were getting brand new golf bags. Their old bags were going to the junior varsity boy’s golf team. Mack asked if her and fellow teammate Becca Ramirez could be the ones to give the bags to the younger guys. She and the rest of the team started laughing, so I knew something was up. After some conversations back and forth, I convinced her to let me in on the joke, because with Mack, she was always up to something. Mack said that her and Becca purchased 10 boxes of feminine products and planned to stuff every pocket in the bags with them. Now image, with me, if you can, 14-year-old boys getting ready to practice with their new Springfield High bags only to find them loaded with tampons. So, of course, I looked at Mack and told her to go ahead and proceed.”

With the approval of her coach, Mack then carried out her humorous plot. She giggled throughout the plans, she laughed long and loud with her teammates as they stuffed the golf bags with tampons, and she chuckled every time she told people that “Stapes” had joined in the laughter, too. But the belly laughs of those boy golfers were the laughs Mack enjoyed the most. They were a new audience for her, and it tickled her pink to learn that she was capable of sharing a good laugh with people outside of her own circle of friends and teammates.

Oh Mack, you were a natural, my dear. We enjoyed the giggles we shared with you, we treasure the laughter you brought us, and we know that every day you made us laugh was a day worth living.

sisters babies  nerd caffeing and yellow nailscheesin with kaitlin

no lips  dancing with a potato eye balls

Mack is Everywhere

Early last Saturday morning on my weekly trip to Trader Joe’s, I paused a moment in the floral department, and my eyes settled in on a lovely pot of fall chrysanthemums. The small plant I noticed first was just one of dozens of potted flowers and fresh-cut arrangements, many of which commanded far more attention than the demure and jewel-toned flowers on which I had fixed my gaze. The deep maroon petals and contrasting yellow centers were smiling brightly at me; and there in the floral department, I smiled back at them. mums

I had awaken that morning feeling a little more sad and a lot more empty than usual, and the short drive on a deserted I-64 stretch of highway to the suburban shopping center had made me weepy. But there I was, standing among those flowers, smiling, my spirit lifted in one beat of my heart. Mack was in that little pot of flowers that were, like her, reserved on the outside and vibrant in the middle. Mack was there in the store, daring me to smile away my gloomy demeanor and begging me to welcome the simple joys of a Saturday.

Because my Mack is everywhere.

Mack’s freckled face is in the clouds. Mack’s impish giggle floats upon the wind. And Mack’s happy, carefree spirit is an essential element of the air I breathe. She wanders around in my mind, always in t-shirts and over-sized basketball shorts. She sits upon my shoulder when I prepare her favorite foods or as I cheer for our Cardinals to beat the Cubs. And she sings those infectious yet saccharin Taylor Swift songs in my ear whenever a dreadful silence threatens to overcome me. Mack was on Cherokee Street when an empty Funyuns bag blew across my path as I walked between antique shops one Sunday afternoon. funyunsShe was at the intersection of Gravois and MacKenzie roads as I waited for that interminable traffic light to turn green just a couple of weeks ago. And she was in those chrysanthemums last Saturday, one of my bad days, when the simple task of grocery shopping challenged my shaky resolve.

I am not a religious person, nor am I spiritual in any way. Wish that I did, but I do not believe that Mack is watching over me from some heavenly plane. Yet I have come to consider my Mack “sightings” as real and essential and true. Real because they happen daily. Essential because they have strength to catch me when I falter. And true because they perfectly reflect what Mack was to me in life and must continue to be for all of the days I must live without her.

Mack is alive in my memories. Mack is ever in my mind’s eye. Mack is in my heart, in my soul, and in the world around me. Mack is everywhere.

Macko in hato

And who wouldn’t want to see that face in the clouds?


A Spotted Monster

Before sending Mack through the airport security checkpoint and seeing her off on her semester adventure in Spain, I planted a deep kiss on her sweet face. It was always my habit to kiss the large, dark freckle that sat up high on her left cheekbone. I loved that freckle. I had probably told Mack a thousand times how much I adored it. And so she was not surprised that my kiss that day was a little longer than the usual pecks I had given that freckle so many times before. It was an important kiss, after all, so I made it a good one; and Mack chuckled a little as my lips pressed in on her soft cheek. That was exactly one year ago today.

Mack’s freckled face is the first thing I think about every morning when I awake, and it is the last image I see before drifting off to sleep each night. I miss my Mack and her fantastic freckles, and it breaks my heart to know I will never kiss my favorite Mack freckle again. But those freckles always brought a smile to my face, and they possess that power still. So I can just stare at a particularly freckly photo of my girl and let her freckles bring a smile for which I am frequently so desperate; like today, twelve long months since I have seen those freckles in person.bubble (2)

Mack came from a long line of freckles. As my freckly father’s daughter, I have a variety of freckles across my nose, shoulders and knees, along with a rogue, light brown freckle on the bottom of my right foot. Mack’s father is covered in freckles, as are most of the members of the Irish McDermott clan. Yet Mack’s freckles were special; and they were truly as unique as she was. While she sported them on her knees and on her arms, freckles made their most spectacular appearance across her beautiful face, reflecting her impish nature and zany personality. By the time Mack was five or six, she had a face full of freckles, earned by playing hard for hours in the summer sun. Along with my personal favorite Mack freckle, there was a constellation of dark freckles from her left eyelid to her left brow, a heavy spray of assorted freckles across her forehead, and a unique parade of irregular freckles running between her nose and her upper lip.

frecklesMack always accepted her freckles with humor. She named and pointed out her favorites, she sang songs about them, and she used them as fodder for her comedy routines. A “spotted monster,” she called herself. And while the term may have been an apt descriptor of her years as a terrible toddler and a wild, young child, it failed to illustrate the beautiful connection between Mack’s unique and delightful freckles and Mack’s unique and delightful self. The remarkable collection of freckles that beamed so brightly across her face was a window to her soul, and Mack appreciated that fact. She thought it was pretty damn cool that she possessed such an inimitable physical trait that so closely mirrored her one-of-kind personality. The freckles on Mack’s face told the world that she was happy and fun, that she was charming and silly, and that she subscribed to the believe that life was a joyous and witty adventure.

Now, when I look at the freckly photos of my Mack pictured here, I cannot help but remember my lost daughter as a happy and fun and charming and silly girl who enjoyed her time in the world. Memories of her good life, even on a day like today when I am missing her so keenly, warm my heart. Through those expressive freckles, I can peer directly into Mack’s soul, feel her presence in my life, appreciate the mark she made upon my heart, and allow a much needed smile to make an appearance on my sad face.

Mack’s freckles on Facebook…

the spotted monster   weird stupid with dark freckles (2)


Kimber, who was Mack’s good friend and high-school softball teammate, started the “macstachio” nickname, paying homage to Mack’s wonderful freckle moustache.