Happy Fathers’ Day, Mom

Not to detract from the well-earned celebrity of men everywhere who receive this single day of praise from their children, but not all of us had a man figure prominently in our childhood. For me, the only men who impacted me growing up were my grandfather (thank you) and a handful of very special teachers (thank you, Mr. Muhlstock and colleagues).

Toronto Island

My mom (purple top) was literally at the centre of all we did.

No, for me and a lot of kids like me, the leading father-figure in our lives was our mom…in my case, Jeannette or Jan.

Although Mom didn’t always meet up to the stereotypes of a father—I can’t remember throwing around a baseball or going fishing with her—she was always there for my brothers and me, ready to help us with any problems we might be facing or ensuring she found us an understanding male to speak with (e.g., Big Brother).

I remember when my youngest brother Shawn played hockey as a young kid. In a rink full of Dads, yelling support for their Lafleur, Howe or Gretzky, there was my Mom, cheering on my brother…almost completely oblivious to any of those NHL superstars.

Connected

Mom is always connected to us (even when we fight her on that).

Mom was the one who made sure we had a roof over our heads. Mom made sure we were fed and had all our school supplies. Mom was the one who made sure we never knew we were as poor as I suspect we were. Mom was the one who made sure our home life was as normal as the next kid’s.

But perhaps Mom’s greatest legacy is that she ensured her boys would grow into gentle, caring men, who respected women, less as people to be protected and more as people to admire and celebrate. And in the case of my brother Scott, also to understand the importance of your children and to be a great parent, which he is.

Mountain top

Queen of all she surveys

So, happy Fathers’ Day, Mom…and to all the other single women raising children. You have my deepest regard.

Party pooper

But never forget she is MOM first, cool Dad second.

See also:

Dads: Not just an oatmeal cookie

In-sects

Having spent a day photographing bugs and other creatures outdoors, I was surprised to find while sweeping the hallway (a surprise unto itself) that I was witness to a battle for life.

Thus, I present the inside insects (arachnids) or in-sects.

Birth of a reader

Okay. I admit it. I have a book problem.

I, Randall (Randy) C Willis, am a book addict.

In my defense, it is my mother’s fault…she was my first dealer.

From my earliest days, I remember being surrounded by books…books purchased for my enjoyment and edification (I read that word in a book).

Books were my companions. Books were my connection to the greater universe. Books were my babysitter. Books were my escape. Wherever my books are, that place is my home.

As I said, my mom started the process, as seen below in scans of some of my earliest books. Each of these volumes was published within a couple years of my birth, and either my mother or I have schlepped these things around for almost five decades.

I still smile as I flip through the Counting Book, testing my acumen. So far, so good.

And I sit in awe of the Adventures of Beany & Cecil, which was way too hip for kids as a short trip down YouTube indicates.

At the peak of my addiction, I think I owned 3000 books, give or take. I am presently sitting around 500, the rest being donated over the years to Good Will stores in Canada and the United States.

I know libraries exist, but in a twisted way, that would be like going to a strip club or brothel. A bibliographic quickie instead of a committed relationship (told you it was twisted).

No, I’ll stick with my books, thanks. Constant companions in an inconstant world.

Dorothy’s Day

Aside from my wife and my mother, the most important woman in my life was my grandmother Dorothy, who encouraged and advised me at every turn in my life. I stayed with my grandparents while I attended college and my first apartment was literally two doors down the same apartment hallway. She has always been my friend.

Dorothy passed away last year. When she did, I was given an old family photo album and as I have this nice little scanner, I thought hmmmm.

In honour of Mother’s Day and because my grandmother’s birthday was May 15th, I offer the following retrospective album of Gram as I have known her and as I wish you all could have.

If she were still alive, I am confident she would be worried all to hell about my current artistic adventures and spirit journey, but I also know she would give me all her love and support…and maybe a few hands of cribbage to keep me honest.

I miss you, Gram.