Humor for health

The Sunday Column

I sometimes wonder where I got my sense of humor, and I would like to think a little bit of it comes from both my mom, Jean, and my dad, John.

Friends of my mother used to ask her if she ever got upset with me over my monthly columns in which I poke fun at her, my siblings and my family. She used to tell me as long as she’s not on the obituary page, she’s fine with whatever I write. Well now, she’s fighting to stay out of the obits.

Late last year, she was diagnosed with kidney cancer, and it has been a physical and mental battle for her, as well as our family and those close to her, for the past four months. But through it all, when she’s had the strength, she is still, at heart, Jean Risoldi, who grew up in Juniata with what was probably the cleanest house in Pennsylvania.

With all that goes on at her home, she still shows flashes of the lady who used to hose us down after football practice before letting us in our home.

For instance, there was the day that a physical therapist came into the living room to meet my mom, who we thought was asleep on her chair. The lady starts talking to me, then to my mom. No sooner did the lady begin her conversation than my mother opens her eyes, looks at the lady, then looks at me and says, “Scotty, tell her to take her shoes off.” Wow!

Her depth perception must be that of a CIA agent because she didn’t even have time to scan the room to even notice the lady’s feet. The therapist apologized profusely to her and removed her shoes. Maybe she could tell by the sound of her walking on a carpet that is probably 15 years old but looks like it is 15 seconds old.

Maybe that’s how, when I was young, she could tell if I had my shoes on in the living room … while she was asleep upstairs in her bedroom.

Then, there was the one nurse who came in the doorway, saw my mother’s Ethan Allen-like home furnishings and quickly took her shoes off before she even took her jacket off. I looked right at her and told her “You’re a keeper!”

You have to understand how strong my mother used to be when it came to her home. I am at the point now, that when I go into her house, and even though she’s asleep, I still take my shoes off before walking into her kitchen. Do I do it out of respect? Sure, but I do it out of fear more than anything, but a good fear, like a “You-can’t-have anything-to-eat-in-here-until-you-take-your-shoes-off” fear.

There have been days when my brother, John, my sister, Cyndi, and I have had to use extra motivation to get her to do things like walk and eat.

One day, we were just trying to get her to get up and look out of the window at the nice day taking place, but she just wouldn’t move.

Not only did I threaten to touch her curtains but the window and the drapes as well. She didn’t say anything, just gave me an icy stare. I knew that I got her attention. And I didn’t touch any of those aforementioned things, either. I’m not stupid. I don’t want to end up on the obit page either!

We thought we were going to lose her in February, and you are reading this on April 22. So the fight continues, hopefully with a little more prayers included and just a sprinkling of humor … for health reasons, of course.

Mirror Sports Writer Scott Franco writes a monthly column for the Mirror.