With Mother's Day taking place earlier this month, I imagine everybody has a great mom story to tell, and I am no different - other than the fact that I get to tell it to thousands of readers in a monthly newspaper column.
Even though I'm slotted for the fourth Sunday of each month, I couldn't let this opportunity go by - especially if you know Jeannie Franco.
And what's a Franco family story without a little embellishment?
I've got a bunch of stories to tell, but we'll be selective here because not only do you not want to fool with Mother Nature, you do not want to fool with the former Miss Risoldi, Altoona High School Class of 1951.
Anyone remember a few months ago when a new pope was elected in the Catholic church? When I was younger, and more Catholic (I am now a member of the Lutheran church), getting a new pope was a big deal in our house.
My brothers and my sister really believed that my mom had the power to keep us home from school on the days a new one was selected. She and God are that close.
When Pope Francis was chosen, my mother called me a few days before it happened. The call sounded something like this:
Mom: "Scotty, I think the new pope was chosen today."
Me: "Why? Did you see something on the news? Did you hear something? What? What?"
Mom: "No, but my lights flickered off and on for a little bit about an hour ago, and I thought that was God trying to tell me something."
Me: "Mom, I don't think God and Penelec have any kind of working relationship in the central Pennsylvania area. It was probably just an electrical problem."
Mom: "Don't be a #@*&#* I know that, but I still thought that was God trying to tell me something."
Maybe the Vatican has some kind of connection with the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, and because my mom does get The Catholic Register each week, maybe a group of cardinals got together and tapped into her electrical system that day.
Oy vey! (Now I'm switching to a totally different culture, but you get the message.)
My mother has that kind of faith, a strong faith that she has carried with her for 79 years. The lady is so good and kind that she still sends money to her former church as well as giving money to her new church.
She makes me feel guilty because I am on my fourth church at just the age of 48 - and I only give to one of them.
I always tell my mom that she's a shoo-in for heaven, and she always laughs it off, but I would argue with the big guy upstairs if there ever was a debate about the topic.
I tell my mom she could spend a month doing bad things and still get clearance past Purgatory and a ticket straight to the Pearly Gates.
While my trips to the confessional over the years have been attempts to do stand-up comedy (just ask Father Mark Begly someday, if you get the chance), my mom's visits would have to border on the mundane.
Forgetting to clean or putting extra plastic on the furniture just doesn't cut it in the sin category.
But you know what? I wouldn't trade her for any other mom in the world, including Mrs. Brady, Mrs. Cleaver, Mrs. Cunningham or Mrs. Huxtable.
She's that good, and God knows it, too.
Scott Franco is a member of the Altoona Mirror sports staff, a husband and a father of four. He can be reached at 946-7528 or firstname.lastname@example.org.