Some people have all the luck, while others never seem to get a lucky break. Most of us get lucky at least a few times in our lives.

My mother has had more than her fair share of luck.

After backyard summer picnics when we were youngsters, Mom liked to challenge my brother and me to four-leaf clover finding contests. Armed with high expectations, we’d set off on a hunt for the elusive oddity amongst the ordinary three-leaf variety growing on our lawn. We’d wander across the natural green carpet, eyes trained on the delicate round leaves, counting one, two, three … but never four.

Sometimes I’d get down on my hands and knees to get closer to the clover plants. With the fingers of my hand, I’d ruffle the tops, hoping to discover a fourth leaf tucked under the leaves of adjacent three-leaf stems. My younger brother usually grew frustrated and bored with the search before me. He’d come sit by me while I continued my pursuit, but instead of helping, he’d delight in ripping small handfuls of the clover stems from their clusters and throwing them into the air.

About then, Mom, having finished packing up the picnic basket, would join us in the quest. In less than a minute, she’d reach down and pick a clover stem, exclaiming, “Look what I’ve found!” showing us a perfectly formed four-leaf clover. Exasperated, I pounded the ground, demanding to know: “How do you do that?”

Like a magician pulling a live rabbit from a hat, she found the prize every time. All summer long, she kept a small glass vase on the kitchen windowsill, replenishing it with fresh four-leafers nearly every time she went outside. If a four-leaf clover brought her good luck, I wondered what type of fortune the five-leaf and six-leaf clovers she found occasionally brought?


Her luck wasn’t limited to finding nature’s green good luck charms. In her late forties, her doctor diagnosed a rough, itchy black patch of skin on her upper arm as melanoma. Back then, having that form of skin cancer was a death sentence. Mom had surgery to remove the cancer and a wide swath of tissue surrounding it, and all the nearby lymph nodes. The surgery required a painful skin graft from her thigh to cover the exposed bone and muscles of her arm. Luck smiled on her again as she beat the very slim odds the doctors gave her.

Today, she is 96 years young with a healthy heart, a sharp mind and the ability to walk wherever she wants to go with the support of a late-model rollator.

She told me yesterday, “I wish it would warm up so I could get outside for a walk.” I asked if she still looked for four-leaf clovers.

“Oh yes,” she replied, “I can still spot them, but someone else has to bend over and pick them for me.”

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