17 Limericks for Mack Day

Grief is a humorless companion; and life without humor is grim. While I am often unsuccessful, I do try every single day to find humor in the world, because I know it is the thing that Mack would most want me to find. Mack laughed and chortled and giggled her way through nearly every day she lived. For her, laughter was as essential as the air we breathe. She was the source of a great and wonderful abundance of the laughing I did for the twenty years I was lucky to know her. Mack’s joyful sense of humor was one of her greatest gifts to me and to everyone who knew and loved her.

Therefore, on this Mack Day, March 17, 2018, in honor of the twenty-fourth birthday of my happy and funny little leprechaun, I offer seventeen limericks. A couple of them are really good, some of them are OK, and most of them are pretty terrible. But I know Mack would love them all, especially the terrible ones. She would have laughed her ass off reading each one (out loud and in a goofy voice, of course), congratulated me on my ridiculousness, and then written a couple of her own. I think she would be happy to know that I laughed a little more than I cried while writing them. I also think Mack would appreciate, and maybe even take full credit for, my decision to pen so many damned limericks in the first place. So please, read the limericks along with me and with Mack and laugh out loud, especially at the terrible ones, as we all remember our silly and sweet, cheerful and magnificent girl.

Note: Each limerick is linked (on the heading) to the previous blog post that inspired it, so that readers might revisit old stories of Mack’s beautiful life.


There was a girl with cravings for candy

always keeping it close and quite hand

Loved the sour and sweet

Always needing a treat

And campaigning that sugar was “dandy”


Mack found sweatshirts to be the most comfy

Tucked-in tails were so painfully lumpy

Shorts and soft tees

Free toes and bare knees

Were important for not being grumpy


Well liked and admired without trying

Mack gained friendship and fame without vying

Confident and cool

Goofy fun in school

Quirky, genuine soul, no denying


Ordering Asian food was quite common

Mack loved her sushi, pad Thai and ramen

Spicy she’d order

Thai folks adored her

Loving their food with such happy abandon


There once was a daughter McDermott

on whose face there was spot after spot

“Freckle monster am I!”

she cried out with a sigh

“Guess I’ll love all the dots that I got”

Friends First

Best friends were her favorite collection

Making careful and worthy selection

Not judging her buddies

but thwarting their studies

With much laughter and goofy distraction


She preferred flip-flops over her golf shoes

Comfort and irreverence was her excuse

For her golf was fun

Just a walk in the sun

A time to chill out with friends, win or lose


Most of her life Mack wore very long hair

Shimmering with sun, so fine and so fair

But never too keen

To primp and to preen

Finally cut it to suit her own flair


She had an old blue Jeep that rattled

with a terrible clutch she battled

But she loved that old heap

only making her weep

on nights she was late and it tattled


Mack always stood way out for her humor

Of which everyone was a consumer

She would chuckle and giggle

Tell bad jokes and would jiggle

Make you pee your pants along with her

Lazy Days

Mack loved to watch her TV for hours

Eating Funyons and sucking on sours

Glee, Parks, and Buffy

nothing too stuffy

because Sponge Bob’s the one who empowers


A girl from Springfield always shrinkin’

from sharing her town with that Lincoln

Mack decided that fate

gave her no choice to hate

the man who consumed Momma’s thinkin’


To be like Mack is a damn worthy goal

Making best friends is so good for the soul

Relax, enjoy life

Be brave, cut the strife

And always laugh, chuckle, giggle, and roll.

No Worries

Mack wasted no sleep or time in fretting

About things there was no use in sweating

Preferring to chill

things happen that will

Besides, nothing should be so upsetting

Spiders and Insects

Mack detested all spiders and insects

Even lady bugs to her were rejects

She’d scream in fear

When they came near

And flee fast like she had mental defects

Wild Child

A tomboy, and crazy athletic

Her pace as a child frenetic

She would bounce off the walls

Never playing with dolls

and giving her parents a headache


Mack was a good feminist writer

Who wanted the world to be brighter

She had plans to create

Female leads to abate

Sexist bullshit and bias around her


Bundling Up

It is cold this Christmas day, and I am passing it curled up in a cozy chair with my dogs and my writing. I do not keep Christmas anymore, so this is just an everyday Monday. Still, my head is filled up with memories of Mack, and my heart is particularly lonely for Mack’s good cheer during this fourth holiday season without her. The air outside is bitter, but the sky is bright and sunny; and since I rather like the feeling of the sun on my face, I am contemplating the therapeutic value of some fresh air and a brisk walk, with Mack along for company, of course.

Yet I strongly consider (have always considered) the bundling up required for cold winter weather to be a most unpleasant task and a very uncomfortable condition. All of that suffocating fleece and wool and goose down make me claustrophobic, sweaty, breathless, and annoyed. Along with inheriting my deep brown eyes, my freckles, and my love of books, Mack also inherited my displeasure of bundling. Heavy coats, scarves, and warm woolen mittens were not a few of Mack’s favorite things. Winter never tucked away her flip-flops and oversized basketball shorts, even as they might expose her toes and ever-bruised knees to frigid winter weather. Throughout high school, Mack never wore a winter coat; and I gave up buying them for her. Even still, every winter day that Mack left for school, I would issue warnings of pneumonia. And every winter day that Mack left for school, she would ignore my “absurd” Momma-Bear advice, content to take her chances with the cold, and leaving the house in just a thick hooded sweatshirt.

When Mack went to Truman State University in way-northern Missouri, I started laying the groundwork in early August for the purchase of a winter coat. Mack balked at the bulk of an appropriate parka, but ultimately admitted that the bone-cold and snowy winters of Kirksville would require something more than a sweatshirt. She settled on a thin puffy jacket, not really a coat, and she also, with surprisingly good humor, took to covering her head and her ears. Gloves tended to fall out of Mack’s pockets, and I never quite convinced her that her shearling-lined Ugg loafers were no match for the snow. But at least she learned that some ­winter-morning walks across a blustery northern campus in sub-zero temperatures and in snowstorms required at least a little more than a thick cotton sweatshirt. Sometimes, in fact, you also needed to pair that hoodie with a jacket, some sweatpants, a pair of borrowed boots, and a wonderfully ridiculous winter hat.

bundled up

Mack, Me, and Dorothy Parker

For nearly twenty years, I have had this funny set of four coasters. White ceramic. Annoyingly useless for absorbing condensation formed and dripping from tumblers full of icy beverages. No matter, though, because I did not keep them for their utility. Rather, I kept them for the quatrain printed neatly upon them, one line of the punchy verse per coaster. Since I received the set, a gift from a close friend, I have kept them stacked, in order of the verse, easily accessible on prominent tables in my home for the enjoyment of any visitor who dares to use or to inspect them. Over the years, I have often been delightfully rewarded for my brazen display of these coasters; because so hilarious have been the scenes of unwitting visitors, especially innocent teenagers, who have picked up the stack and shuffled through each coaster, reading each one out loud:

I’d like to have a martini.
Two at the very most.
At three I’m under the table.
At four I’m under the host.—Dorothy Parker

While I always enjoyed the shocked, wide-eyed and gaping-mouthed horror of teenagers who walked right into this little trap, Mack enjoyed it even more. For surely we were the me and mackonly house with children that kept such scandalous literature out for all to see. As soon as a friend would pick up the stack of coasters or take hold of the top coaster to employ it, Mack would issue a deep “heh-heh-heh-heh” and wait for that friend to start reading. If necessary, she would encourage the visitor to inspect the verse, and then she stood back and let the magic happen. I was witness to several such encounters in which innocent teens read the verse loudly and dramatically, belting out each line; the rhyme taking hold of their good sense and rendering them powerless to stop the punch line from passing across their lips. These scenes sent Mack into fits of giggles, and she and I shared knowing glances. That stack of coasters was a shared prop of plotted good humor in our old Springfield house. An inside joke with Mack, me, and Dorothy Parker.

Today for me that stack of under-performing but delightful coasters is a humorous artifact of my life with Mack; and that erroneously attributed ditty printed upon them has become something of a little legend in my mind. A legend of Mack. A legend of Dorothy Parker. A legend of a couple of smart and witty dames who made me laugh…who make me laugh. You see, when Mack and I enjoyed our coasters and used them as a prop for evil, we believed that Dorothy Parker wrote those delicious lines. We had no reason to doubt. It certainly sounded like something she would have written or said. Besides, Dorothy Parker’s name lent credibility and elevated the brow of the joke, which made it all the funnier to us both. We were not pushing dirty limericks. We were dealing in fine literature. And that made us laugh all the louder.

A couple of months ago, I picked up a musty old first edition of the Viking Portable Library’s Dorothy Parker, published in 1944. I paid $1.95, and I’ve certainly gotten my money’s worth, as I have been toting it everywhere I go. It’s about four inches wide and six inches tall, the faded brown, hardcover binding is pliable from wear, and the pages when flipped fill the air with the pungent yet pleasing fragrance of a used book store. I’ve been carrying around this little book, reading the poems and prose within it, laughing and crying, imagining Parker holding court at the Algonquin Hotel in New York, and imagining Mack holding court in our Springfield living room with our coasters. In the reading and through my emotions in that reading, I have been feeling connected not only to Dorothy Parker, but also to Mack. Because I don’t think Mack read much if any of Dorothy Parker, and I am so very sorry about that.  I think Mack would have loved Dorothy Parker. Mack would have understood the quiet reflection and hint of sadness under the brash style and sharp wit. Mack would have marveled at the melody and tone of a charming and imperfect woman who lived life. She would have appreciated Parker’s ability to cut to the heart of a matter and not waste a person’s time with frivolous details.

I think Mack was a little bit like Dorothy Parker, who was intelligent and wise, an astute observer of humanity and the wonder and absurdity of life. I have been hearing Mack’s voice within Parker’s words on the page. Spending time with my worn little volume of Parker’s work (and learning that Parker did not write that quatrain on our coasters!), has made me see that I have actually been reading as much for Mack as I have been for me. Sometimes the life experiences we have—in this case my discovery of Dorothy Parker’s poems—can, indeed, be shared with the dear people whom we are missing. So if you’ve wondered where we’ve been, Mack and I have been away together on a little journey with Dorothy Parker, drinking martinis and talking about life.

And here is a little Dorothy Parker for you:

My favorite for Mack…
Four be the things I am wiser to know:
Idleness, sorrow, a friend, and a foe.
Four be the things I’d been better without:
Love, curiosity, freckles, and doubt.
Three be the things I shall never attain:
Envy, content, and sufficient champagne.
Three be the things I shall have till I die:
Laughter and hope and a sock in the eye.

My favorite for Dorothy…
Unfortunate Coincidence
By the time you swear you’re his,
Shivering and sighing,
And he vows his passion is
Infinite, undying—
Lady, make a note of this:
One of you is lying.

My favorite for me…
On Being a Woman
Why is it, when I am in Rome,
I’d give an eye to be at home,
But when on native earth, I be,
My soul is sick for Italy?
And why with you, my love, my lord,
Am I spectacularly bored,
Yet do you up and leave me—then
I scream to have you back again?

And, while Dorothy did not pen the verse on my coasters, she did, in fact, pen this:

News Item
Men seldom make passes
At girls who wear glasses.


Our delightful coasters!

Short Stature and Long Memories

Yesterday, I bounced up onto the washing machine into a seated position and then pulled one leg up, lifting myself into a standing position atop the washer, so that I could then reach a box stored on the top shelf in the laundry room. I am a short and small woman, so my reach is often insufficient. Therefore, I frequently engage in this hop-sit-stand method of obtaining the things I want that are located at high altitudes. I retrieved the box and then settled into the required, intermediate, sitting-before-dismount position. But instead of hopping down straight away, I stayed seated, my legs dangling several inches above the floor. Mack, who always deemed my hop-sit-stand method ridiculous as well as delightfully entertaining, popped into my mind. Her enchanting little giggle filled my head, and so many memories of her good-natured teasing of my vertically-challenged life flooded over me.

Whenever Mack witnessed the limits of my reach, she would chuckle and snort before obtaining the object for me, making a dramatic demonstration of how so very easy it was for her to collect the object. When we stood next to each other for pictures, she would often ask me if I would like for her to kneel so I would not look like a “shrimp.” Frequently, a hug from Mack meant that her chin would dig deep into the top of my head to remind me of her six extra inches of height. And nothing sent her more quickly into a fit of giggles than my legs dangling on the bar stools at Buffalo Wild Wings. My common response to her playful joking about my short stature was: “I’ve been short all my life, and I’m getting along just fine.” “Oh, really?” she would reply. And then a fit of giggles elicited her trademark wrinkled nose, exaggerated finger point, and whispery hee-hee-heeing.

Mack is always on my mind, and I carry her spirit around with me every day no matter where I am or what I am doing. But it is so weird sometimes how that goofy girl interjects herself into my memories and makes me laugh. There I was just getting a box off of a shelf in the laundry room, and Mack bursts in just in time to make fun of me. Sitting there with my legs dangling, I closed my eyes and just let Mack’s giggle fill up the small space. I am so grateful for these random connections with my lost girl. I am beyond thankful for all of the laughter we shared during our short time together. I wish like hell she was still here to tease me about being so damn short. But thank goodness her spirit can find me, even in the laundry room on an ordinary Sunday afternoon.


Here is Mack making fun of me as I struggle to find a way off of a high wall.

Mack and Me

Here is the photo taken on the wall before the teasing began.

a favorite photo

And here is my favorite picture depicting our height difference. Note: Mack is wearing flat sandals and is leaning over, and look where her waist is compared to mine!

Ain’t I Sweet?

Mack had this face and pose she would frequently strike for photographs that always made me crazy…at first. She would cock her head slightly, open her mouth to reveal the top row of her beautiful teeth, and place her hand dramatically upon her chin. It was an irreverent face. It was a quintessential form of Mack satire. I knew this, of course, but every time she did it, I was exasperated. I would ask her if she was even capable of being serious for just one damn second. She rarely bothered to answer my question, and I don’t blame her. We both knew that the answer was NO! So we would proceed with this familiar routine: Mack would hold the pose, I would act annoyed, and then she would change my mood from annoyance to delight. She would say softly and sweetly, and sometimes with a little cluck of her tongue:  “Ain’t I sweet?” And then I would smile or laugh and snap the picture that she wanted.

aint i sweet love this face 2 love this face 3

Mack just had a way about her. She could turn my frown upside down in .02 seconds flat. She had the power to make people smile, wash away their anger or frustration, and interject levity at the very moment someone began taking themselves way too seriously. It was a charming gift. Mack understood that she possessed this special magic; and she used it freely, casting it about with a magic wand. With her faces and her silly retorts, she was being goofy and using her unique brand of humor to chase negative moods out the window. Yet I think the humor was just the instrument of her real magic: the ability to make people in her presence happy. Mack was all kinds of funny, and making people laugh was a pleasure for her. But deep down in her heart and in her soul, Mack was more than funny. She was kind and good and all kinds of sweet, too.

Singing to Lamps

Mack was born a professional procrastinator. She waited until the absolute last second to do everything that needed doing. She penned school papers the night before they were due, crammed for tests on the day they were scheduled, and met important deadlines on deadline and not a day or a week beforehand. She never worried about unfinished tasks that were in front of her. She was never anxious about the consequences of putting them off too long. She never lost sleep because of them. And she certainly never let them interfere with the silly things she wanted to do instead. From her first days as a little elementary school kid to her days as a college student, Mack made a sport of putting off things until tomorrow.

Mack was no ordinary procrastinator, however. She possessed a very particular skill; and it was that skill that separated her from the amateurs. Mack had a talent for knowing exactly how much time and energy were required to successfully complete an undesirable task. In her mind, there was certainly no good reason to spend three hours writing for literature class an essay on, say, The Scarlet Letter, the weekend before it was due if in fact it could be done in an hour and fifteen minutes at 10:45 p.m. the night before it was due. Fortunately, Mack was a naturally good student. She would finish that essay at midnight or later and, usually, receive an “A” for her minimal effort. It was impossible to teach Mack about the potential consequences of procrastination for us mere mortals when the goddess of procrastination seemed impervious to them.

Maybe because of her amazing triumphs in procrastination, Mack was not a quiet or accidental procrastinator, either. She actively celebrated her willful procrastination and she encouraged her friends to join her. It was during the times when Mack and all of her friends should have been studying that Mack was the most ridiculous. Whether she was on a school bus with the basketball team coming home late from an away game, or working on a group project at Barnes and Noble, or studying with one friend on the floor of her bedroom, she was a goofy distraction to herself and to everyone in her vicinity. It was during these times when she told her silliest jokes, made up absurd poems and songs, and regaled her friends with her foul language and her unique sense of humor. Why keep your nose in a book or stare at an unfinished essay on your computer when you could dance in your bra and over-sized sweatpants, make a seven-ingredient omelet (eggs, onion, olives, mushrooms, cheddar, basil, and hot sauce) at 10 o’clock at night, play a game of who-can-text-the-silliest-word-or-combinations-of-words with Maggie, or sing a love song to a lamp?singing to a lamp

Even more than the perpetual messy state of Mack’s bedroom, my younger daughter’s procrastination made me crazy. You see, I am the antithesis of a procrastinator. I complete unpleasant tasks as soon as it is humanly possible to do so in order to put the unpleasantness behind me; because as long as it is in front of me, I will do nothing but wring my hands and worry over it. On this point, Mack and I did not understand each other very well at all. She probably said to me a million times: “Don’t worry, Momma Bear, I’ll do it tomorrow.” She made me even crazier when instead of studying she would clomp up the stairs to my loft office with her computer to show me fifteen videos of giant baby pandas going down slides. The next thing I knew, an hour was gone and neither one of us had accomplished a damn thing but to fall deeply in love with those baby bears, to coo with syrupy sweetness over their adorableness, and to discuss a plot to steal one the next time we went to a zoo.

Mack was a genius when it came to sucking everyone around her into her personal plot to practice the fine art of procrastination. No one, not even me, was immune to the inappropriate timing of her amusements. She always put fun and laughter ahead of chores, and I think she always understood when the people around her needed a little levity. As far as she was concerned, everyone needed to be silly and to have a little fun when they were working on something serious and not fun, like schoolwork. And if singing to a lamp might provide the humor that was needed both for herself and others, then she was more than honored and thrilled to oblige us all.

Frisky and Macko

I had the privilege and the great fun to have two full-time comedians in my personal life: my dad and my younger daughter. Both Jim and Mack enjoyed life, made the absolute most of each day, and soaked up every ounce of sunshine that came their way. But the rarest human quality shared by this goofy pair was the ability to see humor and fun in the most unlikely of places. When these two characters found humor or manufactured their own, they both laughed from way down deep in their bellies and their souls. While their childlike demeanor sometimes had the capacity to annoy more serious members of their peer group or family circle (like me), mostly, their good cheer was welcome and infectious.

There were many, many reasons why his family and friends called my dad Frisky, because he had more energy than a classroom full of kindergarteners, always bouncing, cackling, teasing, and making a competitive game out of the most ridiculous activities. One time when we were visiting him in southern Missouri, where he had settled into quasi-retirement, he greeted my girls with one of those 100-count boxes of colorful, tubular popsicles. He immediately began encouraging Savannah and Mackenzie to consume them two or three at a time; but, of course, just eating them was not enough. At some point in our weekend visit, probably late into the night after hours and hours of playing cards and consuming horrifying quantities of Hostess Ding Dongs, Doritos, and Pepsi, he organized a tasting game out of those damn frozen treats. He sorted them out, prepared bundles of every color for each one of us, and then conducted a blind taste test. We were all charged with tasting each color—red, green, orange, yellow, and blue—and with reporting the flavor of each, while blindfolded for added drama, of course. Jim made a great deal of fanfare over the entire test, dragging it out and providing lively, running commentary, carefully recording the results and, in the end, declaring a winner. I have no memory of who won, but I can tell you that we all laughed and laughed and ate way too many popsicles. My kids always remembered that silly experience with their silly grandfather; and, I am certain, such interactions with my dad made a deep impact on my little Macko.

Unfortunately, my kids had little time to know my father, as he died too young in 2001. I adopted some of his humor, and I have a penchant for various childhood delights (like cartoons, Disneyland, merciless teasing, and popsicles), but I turned out to be far too serious by Jim Pratt standards. Therefore, I am pleased that he was able to see some of his sunny perspective and humor in Mack; and had he lived longer, he would have been happy and proud to see how much like him she would ultimately become. Because somehow, either through genetics or that short seven years that their lives overlapped, Mack got the silly, happy, laughing genes of my father. Whenever she was chuckling over stupid jokes, badly singing a ridiculous song she had composed on the fly, or compelling her family members or friends to participate with her in a Mackified handshake or a made-up game, she reminded me so much of him…those sparkling brown eyes, all those freckles and that impish sense of humor.

As I continue to reflect on Mack’s good life and celebrate her character and qualities, I have begun to see much more clearly the connections between these two important people in my life. My dad would have been seventy-one this week, and as has become my custom, I will on his birthday enjoy a Pepsi, a beverage for which his love was legendary. But this year, without Mack to share that Pepsi and swap some crazy Grandpa Jim stories, I want to tell one of Mack’s favorite tales. No doubt she enjoyed this one partly because it reflected so well on her football knowledge and her Irish luck, but also because it was one she vividly recalled and for which she possessed a tangible memento.

Jim Pratt preferred that his family members share his devotion to the NFL; but he required them to participate in the Pratt Family NFL Football Contest Pool whether they loved football or not. While he let some family members, like my mother and my husband, mostly off the hook, all others were compelled to partake. Even girly little Savannah, who made her picks based upon the likability of the team mascots, enjoyed the fun. For years, my dad would call everyone up each week and record their picks in his Pratt Book of World Records (a ragged notebook smeared with the colorful felt-tip ink he always used). Bragging rights were the only reward for being a weekly or a season winner, yet we all trash-talked and fussed as if serious money was at stake. Mack was particularly good at the trash-talking, but she backed up her sass with an impressively accurate pick record. Not at all surprising, really, because she dutifully compared team records, assessed strengths of schedule, and evaluated injury reports before making those weekly picks; and her methods yielded frequent bragging rights.

In Week 7 of the 2000 NFL season, Mack did what no other person in the history of the Pratt Family NFL Football Contest Pool had ever done. Not my dad. Not me. Not anyone. That week, four teams were idle, but twenty-eight teams played fourteen games. Mack did her homework, selected her winners, and on October 19, after the Tennessee Titans defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars on Monday Night Football, she had accurately picked every winner. My dad was over the moon. He went nuts. He believed this may have been the single best Pratt family accomplishment EVER, and he decided it deserved much more than bragging rights. So at Christmas that year at my sister’s house, he orchestrated a mini award ceremony in front of the Christmas tree. He delivered a rousing speech, attesting to Mack’s impressive skills and the unworthiness of the rest of us slugs to compete in the same league with her. And with a great deal of drama, he presented Mack with a plaque, professionally engraved, recording her astounding achievement.

Now I ask you, is it really any wonder why Mackenzie was the happy goof that she always was? I think not. No doubt Grandpa Frisky had an important role to play in that youthful spirit that made my Macko so fun and so unique.

Macks perfect award 02      Macks perfect award 01Macks perfect award