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


Mack Day

Twenty-one years ago today, a leprechaun came dancing into our little family, bringing Irish magic, charm, and shenanigans to our lives. Mackenzie Kathleen McDermott loudly introduced herself at 3:05 in the afternoon on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 1994. She was wearing a full head of dark hair, weighed in at 7 pounds, 14 ounces, and was 21¼ ̎ long. She had perfect skin, sparkling dark brown eyes, a sturdy frame, and a strong little grip. It was the capacity of her lungs, however, that was most impressive to me. As I wrote in her baby book: “she has a lusty cry…temper, temper! Alert from birth, looking around.” I took one look at her little Irish face, all scrunched up in a powerful yell, and I immediately knew that I was in big, fat trouble.

After Mack arrived, St. Patrick’s Day for us was never the same, and I suppose we should credit to some extent the magical day of her arrival in the world with her zest for life and the mischievous quality of her zany personality. The more Mack grew and the more freckles that emerged on her face, the more we all knew that she was a force of nature as vigorous as the Irish surf crashing on the Cliffs of Moher. She was a terrible toddler who engaged with gusto in constant mischief. She was an active and exuberant kid, always running and roaring and making a mess. And throughout her teens, she was a one-girl comedy act, always successful in making everyone who knew her laugh and laugh and laugh some more. Mack played hard, lived loud, and was impossible to ignore. From infancy to toddlerhood and from elementary school to college, she was a bundle of energy, she was a spirited sprite, and she watched for folly and fun around every corner. She was, indeed, our family’s Irish mascot, our own little leprechaun, our jolly little elf.

My Irish imp was ever a handful of trouble, but her sense of humor was infectious and her giggles had the power to melt her momma bear’s heart. Mack learned early on that she could make as much mischief as she wanted to as long as she finished it off with an Irish jig, or a silly joke, or a dimpled grin. Mack was always quick to remind me that she was an Irish daughter who came by her mischief naturally. She embraced her Irish heritage, and she gleefully used it as an excuse for any trouble she caused. She loved the Irish cadence of her full name, wore her freckles with pride, and always believed that having a St. Patrick’s Day birthday was the coolest personal detail of her life.Leprechaun

Throughout the year, Mack was always happy and ready to play the role of our family leprechaun. One year for Halloween she even dressed herself for the part. After school, she went into her bedroom to prepare for trick-or-treating, disappearing with a tub of holiday props I kept underneath my bed. When she emerged, she was wearing what I think is the best Halloween costume she ever had. It was so damn good, in fact, that I was not even mad that she had cut up a perfectly good shirt to make the vest. That night, she skipped and jigged through our neighborhood, collecting her candy and having a blast.

At Barrelhead, our favorite neighborhood bar and grill, where Kevin and I raised our girls on whole, deep-fried catfish and burgers and fries, there was a sign just inside the entrance that counted down the days until St. Patrick’s Day. The sign had chunky wood block numbers that sat in a frame, and the staff religiously updated the numbers each day. We ate at Barrelhead about once a week for something like fifteen years, and every time we entered the bar, Mack would go over to that countdown sign, turn around with a big grin, and shout “275 days until my birthday!” or whatever the magic number was that week. Mack never tired of this ritual; and I always laughed at her, so I guess I never tired of it either. Mack owned St. Patrick’s Day. It was uniquely hers. It was more than a birthday for her. It was a celebration of her Irish self, her inner child, and her devotion to all things silly.

For everyone who knew her, St. Patrick’s Day became Mack’s day. Mack made sure of it; and everyone seemed willing to oblige her. I miss my leprechaun oh so very much. I miss her every…single…day. And my sorrow today, on this first birthday without her, is overwhelming. But I find some solace in knowing that for all of us who loved her so much, St. Patrick’s Day will always be Mack Day.

Leprechaun 2