St. Patrick of the Pineapple

Olivia was eighty-one and stood four-foot, eleven-and-one-quarter inches in her Easy Spirit shoes. Her hazel eyes stared into my identical ones in the mirror as I combed her long locks. Her peers called her Ollie but to me, she was Mum.

“Now, don’t introduce me as, ‘And this is my little mum.’”

“Why not? You are.”

“I sound like a circus act or a leprechaun.” Mum pursed her crimson lips. “I’d like to remind you that I was five-four at your age, dear.”

“Great,” I inhaled, “I have your height to aspire to in thirty years.”

Mum giggled and finished rimming her eyes with a stub of a pencil and then switched to mascara. Mum continued, “I don’t know why I even bother. I can count all my lashes on both hands.”

“You should name them,” I said drolly.

Seventy-five years ago, Ollie reached into a burning shed to rescue her dachshund, Biddy. She was six, as was Biddy. They both survived. Her eyelashes did not.

Mum took a step back from her vanity to admire my handiwork and she said, “You’ve done a great job. I nearly look human.”

I’d finished putting her long hair into a concise, tidy bun at the back of her head. She smiled, “Tsk, tsk. Hair, the color of dust.”

I glanced over at the pictures on her bureau: my siblings and me, her grandkids, friends and an old photo with my dad on the deck of the ship, which brought them to New York. Her fiery, red hair was in a pageboy. Dad had his arm around her waist and they were laughing. They were both twenty-six and had married two weeks before in Dublin, Ireland. She had married a tall, handsome guy with thick, wavy hair that insisted on falling into his fog, grey eyes.

It was 1948. The war was over and Dad was determined to seek his future in America, by way of Canada.

The picture had no way of forecasting the sadness and the happiness that was to follow. It gave no clues of the four miscarriages or the three births, winters of snowdrifts up to the roof, the comforting sound of trains way off on the prairies, dreamy summers on the Red River, mosquito-bitten children, Dairy Queen dipped cones, August days at the lake, puppies, Christmas trees with homemade tin foil garlands, or couches wearing optimistic, green fern patterns. No, they didn’t know what lay ahead, only what they had left behind in Ireland.

All of us are in Los Angeles now and my patient husband had been waiting to drive my parents and myself to a pub with pineapple in its name, which my mum thought ridiculous. “Why would a pub with fruit in its name have anything Irish?”

We met my brother and sister at the entrance. My mum said, “You know, we never did anything for St. Patrick’s in Dublin when I was a child. This holiday is all so American.” She kissed my siblings and slid into a booth.

My father invited her to share a green Guinness. She scrunched up her nose and said, “I don’t like beer. It smells like skunk.”

Friends came over and I introduced my parents “. . . and this is my little mum.”

“No, I’m not, dear.”

“You’re not her mum?” my friend Karen asked.

“I’m not little,” Mum said growing flushed.

Karen looked at her quizzically. “I see.”

Mum’s Irish accent stood out, and she fidgeted with a pin in her hair. “I mean, I’m not a leprechaun.”

Several people turned to look at the wee woman in the booth. Someone made a toast to her. She was an instant hit!

I looked at her glistening eyes, enjoying the applause and feeling so much love and admiration for this little woman who had weathered so many physical challenges. Yet she always embraced life with, “Don’t worry, I know something wonderful will happen.”

. . . and it always did. I miss my little leprechaun.


I am an actress/artist. Though my “little mum” has been gone for eight years, she left me with many wonderful stories and memories which I carry in my heart. My website is www.belindamontgomery.com.

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70 comments on “St. Patrick of the Pineapple

  1. When I first saw the title, I wasn’t sure what to expect but I knew I had to read it.

    It was fun, personal and poignant.

    A welcome departure from the usual “too much drinking” St. Patrick’s tale…

  2. I love this story! I felt as if I was watching a movie of each scene (so beautifully described); I laughed out loud more than once. Belinda, your ability to show us what your “little” mum meant to you is just precious! Keep writing!

  3. Wonderfully written. Brought a tear to my eye. Made me think and miss my Mom. And my dear friend, Belinda, you will love my T shirt for St. Patty’s day. It says – I’m not short. I’m just leprechaun size. It would have suited your wee Mum.

  4. Like so many things in life, the best things end too soon. As does this story, I want to hear more! A compelling story, the words draw you in, the imagery and heart pull you from paragraph to paragraph!
    I have a strong affinity for Ireland, as it’s a part of my heritage as well, and your story evokes a beauty as enchanting as Éire and her people, even the “little ones”!

  5. Hey that’s my little leprechaun too! :-) What a sweet little ditty that is! Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ral.She’s smiling I know!

  6. What a beautiful story, Belinda. The thought of your dad drinking a green Guinness and your mom commenting that it “smells like skunk” brought a wide smile to my face. I miss Olivia as well. Thanks for the wonderful story.

  7. I enjoyed this story very much. It was sweet and touched me. I felt the writer gave us just enough background on her mum, to draw us in, to make us feel as if we knew her a little. It was done with respect and humor. As we age, we will probably have similar situations ourselves. I only hope I have a daughter that is so loving toward me. Most of us have lost loved ones. As long as we tell their stories, they will never be forgotten. There are stories to be passed down, they may be gone but never forgotten.

  8. I knew Olivia and Belinda’s whole family when I was a child in Toronto. They lived in a magical home that was just out of the city bordered by horse properties. They had a huge yard with gorgeous willow tree and barn which enchanted me and I loved going there.

    Ollie and my mother were friends and they were very much alike. In fact, I always thought of my Mom (who was a pioneer environmentalist and organic gardener) as a gnome or a fairy and I know how strong and magical both our mother’s were. While Ollie remained sharp and witty her whole like my mother succumbed to Alzheimers but her spirit was as sweet and loving as ever. I am sure they are still the greatest of soul friends.

  9. Brilliantly Written, Belinda !

    I so instantly saw your Mum in her full beauty. Loving and glowing in her pride of her children. Her spirit is fully captured.

    Although she may have denied being a leprechaun, she certainly is forever a pot o’ gold at the end of every rainbow I see.

  10. A timeless story of a mother and daughter’s love — with a hint of the Irish story-telling tradition–and help from a little leprechaun!
    Nice tidbit to read just around St. Patrick’s Day. Thank- you for sharing….
    M. E. Grey

  11. Lovely description Belinda you have captured the essence of Aunty Olive perfectly.

  12. As a fellow writer in this contest, I have to comment on what a beautiful job of writing this story is and to extend my congratulations. Thank you for sharing. I, too, miss my Mom. So much so that my next book, soon to be released, “2410 Washington Street”, is dedicated to her.

  13. I liked your punchy start and many sweet lines in between. I love your last few lines. Made my eyes tear. You did that in just over 600 words. You’ve got talent!

  14. Belinda,
    I loved it….as I read it I thought …I wonder if this is mum or grandmun..
    You should write a book…of her stories….Love to read it.

    Donna :)

  15. What a well written and thought provoking story to wake up to on a Wednesday morning. As I sipped my coffee, reading this story, I felt my heart flutter and drop. Your story made me think of my own mother and it touched me to read such a wonderful tribute to your beloved mother. You are a very good writer.

  16. Absolutely touching and funny. And all in such a concise, though non-hurried way. I happen to be one of the people who actually knew this dear woman, and her daughter has captured perfectly. A rare, wonderful treat to be in Olivia’s presence again. Truly shows you what happens when you write from the heart.

  17. What a great story! And just in time for St. Patrick’s Day. Being Canadian/Irish myself, it was a little nostalgic with all that warm and fuzzy feelings that go with it. I read it twice just because I enjoyed it so much!

  18. Sweet story about the relationship between the author and her mother. I liked the tone

  19. Belinda–This is a beautifully written, poignant and humorous tribute to your Mum. I feel your very gentle love for her in every word. She was quite a gal, wasn’t she? Thank you for writing this paean to Olivia. It brought tears to my eyes. Now, I know why you enjoy the sound of trains…

  20. A beautiful, precious story of your “little Irish mum”. I was touched to tears but soon remembered all the giggles and laughs we enjoyed in our times together. It was so like Olive. I loved the story, Belinda!

  21. I felt every element of love, inspiration, hardship, and Canadian weather. I absolutely loved it. Please write more Belinda!!!!

  22. What a sweet story! I enjoyed reading about your mum. Your affection and admiration for her comes shining through. You made me miss mine, who passed almost 20 years ago.

  23. Belinda’s short story is very interesting and so very moving. Brought tears to my eyes. Her little mum was a very special little leprechaun…Belinda wrote a caring, wonderful, and very charming little story. Its a new and refreshing short story and should be read anytime but especially fun to read around Saint Patricks Day!

  24. Having had a small Irish mother of my own I was deeply touched by the warmth and glow of the memories shared in this simple but delightful short story. Sometimes brief recollections can shine the brightest in our thoughts and this little slice of life memory was shared and captured with an elegant simplicy of style and sincerity. Please give us some more -

  25. This is a well-written, smile inducing, short tale of a surprise for a St. Patty’s Day story.

    Fantastic. That wee little Leprechaun was charming and remains a loved character, echoed in stories, years passed her time.

    I laugh at the thought of her reading this tale on-line now :)

  26. Belinda a very nice tribute & telling story about your “Mum”. It’s sad that as we grow up and become adults and parents that they leave us one day, but as my Mom always said to me “all things must pass”. Cherish your memories & have a happy St Paddy’s Day!

  27. Such a beautiful story! It brought a tear to my eye as I was reading it to my 90 year young “mum”. Thank you for a lovely touching story!

  28. This is a lovely, beautifully written story. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the author’s “little mum”.

  29. I would love to read more about your Mum. Perhaps a book is in the future? Thank you for sharing such a lovely story.

  30. Belinda: Having only known your mother briefly before she passed, I was delighted to read your excellent recollection and characterization of her in this space. You made her come back to life for a brief moment and that is no mean feat. Kudos on excellent writing and story telling, and especially on seizing the essence of this dear person! I hope you win. -Peter

  31. That was a sweet and heartwarming story! A reminder to show abundant love to your family while they are still here.

  32. Her mother has the same opinion of beer as I do! We would have gotten along famously. A touching memorial tribute to a loved one now gone…but certainly not forgotten.

  33. I think those of us who have lost our mums, can relate to many wonderful events having taken place in our lives. This is a great story.

  34. Belinda your vivid and descriptive writing and lively dialogue captures your mother’s vivid and colorful personality. It feels like she came to live through your words.

  35. This a superb recollection, beautifully and vividly written. The relationship you shared with your mother, the love you both felt for one another, is palpable. Thank you, Belinda! And happy St. Pat’s!

  36. Wonderful story ! I was wrapped up in the personalities and relationship from beginning to end.. Smiling, , giggling… teary eyed .. This story allows you to remember to have fun with life and be full of life. To take the good with the bad . The wonderful relationship between a mother and a daughter. A women and her family and a women and her quest to make sure the world knows she is not little. LOL. This story really puts in to perspective the important things in life family , friends and to always remember who you are , where your from, and how you got there. Thank you for sharing ,

  37. A lovely short story that’s managed to share memories from a lot of years and so timely for St Patrick’s Day.

    Last Sunday was Mother’s Day in the UK and Ireland, it’s a good time of year to remember Irish mums everywhere.

  38. Just the right balance of description, cadences of dialogue, and story to entertain the reader and trigger one’s own fondest memories. In other words, a great short story! I’m still thinking about it, 24 hours later. Give us more, Belinda!

  39. Absolutely love this story!! It was the last one I read and is the one I judge to be the very best in this week’s collection. The theme is, of course, perfect for St. Patty’s – and the writing is exquisite. The author beautifully captured not only the feisty wit that seems still very much alive in the elderly lady, the loving relationship between mother and daughter even comes through in the playful bantering between those two. What a wonderful family setting! I hope this writer wins!

  40. This is my first post of this type. I am typically just too busy to take the time. Further, this is my first jaunt into on-line personal stories written to entertain – a purposeful step to help me escape from my long work hours – and possibly make more effective my own personal introspection.
    And – what a great find! This is exactly the type of stuff i was seeking. Montgomery’s style and content took me to the place I needed to be – and moved me to reflect on my own Mom and our relationship – again, something I often am to busy to do…regrettably. I await Montgomery’s next piece – and the temporary and needed escape it afforded me.

  41. a great story,but you know there is lots more where that came from.
    Beautifully written and I can hear my Aunt speaking throughout.

  42. Love the story and loved your mom!! What a pistol…..I will never forget her sharp wit…..

    love always,
    jude

  43. I didn’t know your mom but if she’s anything like you….she must have been lovely.

  44. What a cute story!!! You’re writing style paints a wonderful picture and is very engaging. I wanted more! = )

  45. What a beautiful story….You certainly have a knack for writing. You make the reader fall in love with your mother, and are left wanting more. Happy St. Patty’s Day!

  46. Aye, a lovely remembrance of an inspiring spirit whose imprint and example lives on in her family and in all who knew her.

    Beautifully and poetically written.

  47. I tip my glass of wine to your dear, Mum and to you, Belinda, for honoring her with your lovely story filled with admiration. Isn’t it amazing how those experiences in life with our loved ones become presents once they are long gone. So are they gone…not on your life or mine. They live on through the gift of storytelling.

    May the Lord, bless you and yours and may your gift of story telling continue to live on for years and years to come. ( Like you…I had an Irish mother, called Mom by our family. How blessed we are to remember them and to keep their memories alive!)

  48. This delightful little story put a smile on me face.
    Could have been me own little mum.
    Belinda, keep on writing!
    Linda Sorensen

  49. THIS WAS GREAT. MOM AND DAD DIED LONG AGO BUT WE HAVE MANY WONDERAFUL MEMORIES OF THE M OF COURSE I AM 89 HOPE TO MEET YOU SOME TIME ADA

  50. This story made me remember the antics of my rambunctious grandchildren. Thank you for the laugh!

  51. A sweet story about Ollie, your mum, she is irresistible! I enjoy the colorful descriptions of her life and I feel your tenderness for her.
    A lovely ode.