Come summer, my father would unwind after work on his hands and knees in search of four-leaf clovers in our front lawn. Although his behavior was a bit embarrassing, I later appreciated Dad’s devotion to the symbol of our Irish ancestry.

After all, an O’Brien couldn’t be more Irish.

Furthermore, Dad planted and watered the grass seed in the first house he bought with help of the extension of the GI Bill. Built in a new subdivision in Warren, only one house on our block had a lawn when we moved on Wagner Street in 1958.

Dad faithfully mowed the lawn with his push mower, cleaned its blades (and once cut his fingers in the process), and earned every minute in search of his prize.

Once he plucked his four-leaf clover (Trifolium repens) from the earth and stood to his feet with a smile, he stowed away his treasure in a safe place until he returned to his barbershop. There, behind his barber chair, he taped the clover to the large mirror for all his customers to see.

My father also enjoyed applying a play on words whenever the opportunity knocked. He would sometimes repeat what he’d heard at work with my family at the kitchen table, or when driving us in his Dodge.

Dad’s play on words I remember most clearly arrived around Christmastime when “Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer” played on the car’s radio. He turned to Mom in the front seat and said slowly, “Rudolf, the Red, knows the rain, dear.”

As a child, the reference of “Rudolf, the Red” didn’t make sense. Nonetheless, Dad’s durable trait for playing with words still amuses my family.

For instance, what did I receive for Mother’s Day in the mail from my daughters? A box of “Sock Fun” including a pair of gardening socks decorated with watering cans, trowels, clippers, and potted plants.

The sole of the left foot sports the words “Sometimes I Wet” with a watering can below. The sole of the right sock says “My Plants” with a potted cactus beneath.

Sock fun, indeed.

Their box of gifts also included gardening gloves with an attached cone reaching my elbows. No more poison ivy on my arms when I garden!

And for the enchanting touch, my girls included two solar-operated lamps to hang from my pergola in the evening.

Dear Reader, these four gifts are to me as my father’s four-leaf clover was to him.

“One leaf is sunshine, the second is rain

Third is the roses that grow in the lane

No need explaining, the one remaining

Is somebody I adore.”

Song by Art Mooney

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