Mama is gone . . .

Ronda Rich's picture

[Editor’s note: The Citizen received the following email Monday from our syndicated columnist, Ronda Rich.]

Dear friends, with heavy heart and tear-soaked cheeks, I must tell you that my Mama died suddenly yesterday of a brain aneurysm.

She had just walked in the door of my house with my sister, Louise. She was laughing and so happy. They had come over for Dixie Dew’s seventh birthday party.

Suddenly, her right leg gave way and she fell down the step into my sunken living room. The fall was so great that she hit the edge of an antique trunk. It was one of the most horrible things I have ever witnessed.

She was brain-dead immediately. Until we got her to the hospital, we thought she had died from hitting the trunk. But, fortunately, there was no brain trauma. She had a aneurysm and the doctors said she was brain-dead before she hit the trunk. This happened at 3.

We sang hymns and then prayed her into the hands of the Good Lord.

Please share this with your readers because she was the star of my column. Below is the link that will take you to the story in today’s Gainesville (Ga.) Times, our hometown paper —

At your discretion, you can use any columns you have about Mama. Please be sure to tag the bottom and remind people she is gone.

But she loved being a story ... and she loves every column I ever wrote about her.

Thank you all,


[From the Gainesville Times:]

The South lost one of its great characters Sunday.

Bonelle Satterfield, mother of columnist Ronda Rich, died suddenly Sunday afternoon from a brain aneurysm.

Rich often referred to the 88-year-old Gainesville homemaker as “Mama” in her columns, and depicted her as a sage of sorts who spouted the kind of wisdom only a salty Southern woman could gain after decades of child-rearing, gardening and socializing.

... Rich said Satterfield spent Saturday modeling spring styles at a fashion show Rich hosted to benefit the White County Meth Task Force.

“Saturday she was a star. She got in the car with me, and said, ‘I had a ball,’” Rich said. “At the fashion show, I held her hand, and I said, ‘Ladies, meet Mama.’ She turned around, and 400 ladies went wild. She was one of those really great characters. Everybody called her Mama, even people who didn’t know her.”

“This is the day I have dreaded all my life,” Rich said. “She was the heart of our family. It’s been such a heartbreak. We ask everyone to remember us in their prayers. I’ve just lost a lot of great material.”

[The following is one of Rich’s most recent unpublished columns about Mama.]

Mama writes a book (or wants to)

My worse fears are about to be realized: Mama has announced her intentions to write a book. My payback is coming.

Before the bombshell dropped, I was ruler of my own universe, which means that I also reigned royally over Mama. I was completely in control of my little kingdom. Then in a matter of seconds, the bomb exploded and there was a changing of the guard. Suddenly, I was dethroned and the new queen supremely took her seat and my power was relinquished.

After a trip to the grocery store, we were, for once, driving along in silence. I was lost in my thoughts when out of the blue, Mama said, “I’m going to write a book.”

It took a split second for the significance of that comment to sink in. When it fully hit me, it splintered my senses like a Louisville Slugger meeting a mighty top spinner.

I jerked my head around. “What!”

She looked around calmly – see, this is how mighty kingdoms are tumbled in a single moment – and said, “I’m gonna write a book.”

I started laughing. First, at what I thought was the sheer ridiculousness of it. Then, my laughter became a defense mechanism. After all, if I could convince her of the silliness of such a venture, she’d give it up. Right? Wrong.

“I’m serious,” she replied. She looked at me levelly, without flinching. “What are you going to write a book about? “My life. It’s interesting.”

“It’s not that interesting.” I was still on the offensive. I didn’t realize that my seat time on the throne was growing shorter by the moment.

She shrugged. “I have good stories to tell.” She smiled wickedly. “I have plenty about you I can tell.”

This is when the offensive changed to the defensive. “Me!” My eyebrows shot up and my mouth dropped. “You can’t write about me.”

Mama narrowed her eyes. This is always a serious sign. “You write about me all the time and half of it ain’t true.”

“All of it is true. And I have witnesses who can verify just about everything I’ve ever written.”

“Don’t worry, little girl, I’ll be able to verify mine, too.”

Just for the record: When Mama calls me “little girl,” the battle has begun. I dismissed the idea and went merrily on my way. I did not realize at the time that my kingdom was in serious jeopardy.

Then, I stopped by the house and found Mama settled comfortably in her easy chair, scribbling on a yellow, legal-sized notepad. I eyed the pad suspiciously. “Whatta ya doin’?”

She grinned happily. “Workin’ on my book.”

Dismayed, I shook my head. I can only imagine my role in the book. I’m sure it won’t be much of a pretty story for me. But to be honest, Mama is a good writer and a stronger storyteller.

“I have a title,” she continued. “I’m gonna call it ‘Mama.’”

Oh, great. Mama has now joined the ranks of Dolly, Cher, Elvis and all the other one-name celebrities. It’s true, though, that strangers come up to her all the time and say, “Hi, Mama” or “How’s Mama today?” We even have one friend who Mama has successfully diagnosed his ailments by using her beloved “doctor’s book,” who now calls her “Dr. Mama.”

I’m not sure what’s going to become of this book but I have heard some of the stories about me that she tells people and that leads me to only one conclusion. At least for me, this book is not going to have a happy ending.

login to post comments | Ronda Rich's blog

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Submitted by skyspy on Wed, 02/27/2008 - 10:46am.

I'm very sorry for your loss.

I know it is a trite cliche, but I hope you find comfort in your memories and your family and friends.

Did your mothers book ever get published and if it did how can I get a copy?

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.