|Ruth Lucile Cassells, July 5, 1920 - May 31, 2003|
When we grew up in Detroit in the 1950s, our friends thought the Cassells kids had “the coolest” mom. My buddy Saundra and I have reminisced about the times my mother took us to the frenzied Rock & Roll shows that were popular in those days. Mom was right beside us as we found our thrill on Blueberry Hill with Fats Domino, did the twist with Chubby Checker, and were all shook up with Elvis. Saundra said, “We all wanted your mother.”
Of course, to her own three kids, she was just “Mom”. We knew without a doubt that she would be at home when we came running in after school. She often had a plate of cookies or a cake sitting on the yellow Formica kitchen table, and the television was always tuned to the channel for Mickey Mouse Club.
Mom was visible around our school, Marcy Elementary. She donated her time to work on PTA projects and hold an office. Several years, when the sixth-grade classes went on their annual camp outing, she was part of a crew of PTA moms who became the camp cooks.
We grew up listening to country music, cleaning our plates, having our English corrected, and saying “Yes, m’am,” "please," and "thank you." She was a patient, loving teacher, giving Tom, Reenié and me enough responsibility so we could become independent but still enjoy our childhood. And, by her example, she taught us how to grow up to be good, strong, respectful people.
She was Mommy, Mama, Mom, and Granny before my middle adulthood, when I started calling her Ms. Ruthie while we were on a cross-country road trip. I’d flown back to Detroit to drive with her to her new home in California. Along the way we visited relatives and did some sight-seeing. And, most importantly, we became reacquainted as adults. That journey was a turning point, the transition of our relationship from mother-daughter to mother-daughter-friends.
Once she arrived on the Bakersfield scene, Ms. Ruthie became everybody’s Mama. She was a "cool Granny," ready for whatever new adventures came along: trying Mexican food, wine tasting, taking a train trip to visit her granddaughters, riding her three-wheeled bike around town, and jumping on the back of my motorcycle for her 80th birthday ride.
There is never enough time with the people whom we love. But, I am eternally grateful for every one of those days and years, time well-spent, with Ms. Ruthie, my mother, my friend.
~ xoA ~