Meg Lowery once wrote, “Being a single mom is not a life full of struggles, but a journey for the strong.”
My childhood was always filled with adventures thanks to my mom’s undying strength. Lisa Willis became a mother for the first time on a cold winter’s day in 1985. She had a beautiful baby girl she knew immediately would be her favorite person in the world. Four years later she had my little brother, Liam Reid Willis. He would be her second favorite person in the world.
It was always a combination of road trips, adventures, and kindness of strangers that made growing up in the 80s and 90s so special.
Often my mom and I will get into talks about some of our greatest hits. We will talk about collecting fossils by the river beds, canoeing in the summers, taking long walks downtown to various fun activities in Wellsville. Many of my fond memories took place in the small town of Wellsville. My brother loved to fish so he would always convince us to take him to the Wellsville Trout Derby. I loved all the other festivities like Gabby Hayes Days, Classic Car Shows, Wellsville Balloon Festivals, fairs at Island Park, and of course playing for hours at the wooden park.
My mother would take us both on road trips to Pennsylvania since we were right on the border of it. We would go to visit Black Forest Trading Post and Deer Park most summers. This was a child’s dream come true. We could pet and feed tiny deer for a couple of dollars. I always spent lots of time deciding on what souvenir to take home; eventually settling on a horse toy of some kind.
My mother would take us canoeing around the shores of Pennsylvania as well, because in those days we could rent a canoe for about $20. Of course we found a Petting Zoo, and that was one of the biggest highlights. That was when I was able to pet a zebra for the first time.
When we weren’t doing our road trips or going to things around town we were exploring in our backyard. Growing up we had a dog trail, and we always had a puppy to take for a walk. My brother and I would have lots of fun walking our puppy on the grassy path, and collect tadpoles in empty tic tac containers along the way. We were big on collecting wildlife, and convincing mom to let us keep it. I loved tadpoles, minnows, salamanders, birds, mice, frogs, toads, and anything else tiny I could hold in my small hands.
My mother had a personal mission to make sure her children had some good memories they could carry with them into their adulthood. She provided us with many adventures and good times to share along the journey we call life.
My way of honoring her this Mother’s Day was to have her dig deep into the archives of my childhood, and find me some blast to the past photos to share. We come from a time when we had to take film, and wait forever to get it developed. Mom had a lot of fun going back in time, and I loved seeing a smaller version of myself.
Remember it isn’t just about flowers, movies, lunches, and cards. Mother’s Day is about shifting through the memories of the person you love the most in the world, and getting to relive the good moments you shared on all the fun adventures.
(Jasmine Willis is a reporter for Genesee Country Express)