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Rich: Sister fills big shoes in role of Mama Two
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When Mama, my last surviving parent, died, I was orphaned; so my sister, Louise, stepped up and took charge.

Of course, it could be argued that she had been looking for a way for years to take over and help run my life. That is only partially true. What is completely true and without one iota of fabrication is that she genuinely and sincerely wanted to fill that empty void that I felt so keenly in my life.

I was first aware of her self-appointed official capacity as my new mama when I was speaking at a women's conference in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., last spring. She and my niece, Nicole, had both graciously agreed to attend and help at my book table.

As I was signing books, I overheard one woman ask, "Now, who are you?" she questioned of my sister, who looks amazingly like me.

Louise, who was sitting between Nicole and me, tossed a thumb in both directions and said, "I'm the mother of these two." Then she shook her head comically. "It's a big job."

And there it was. I had a new mama. In the year and half that has passed since Mama skipped off happily to her heavenly reward, Louise has taken her self-acquired, self-proclaimed job as Mama Two, quite seriously. She even calls and asks the same questions as Mama.

For instance, when I am returning from a speaking engagement, she will call and begin the conversation with, "So, how did it go?" She'll listen intently then ask other questions like, "Were many there?" "Did they like you?" "What did they say about you?"

And then, without fail, she'll always ask Mama's favorite question, "Did you sell many books?"

Depending on the answer, she'll be excited for me, terribly disappointed or in agreement that it was just what I could have expected.

Like Mama, when she shops with me, she comments on the length of my dresses if she thinks they're too short, and she's quite good at making the same, disapproving look as Mama, wrinkling the tip of her perfect little nose.

Too, she is sympathetic to my trials, encouraging in my challenges, happy for my triumphs and always proud, no matter what.

Unlike Mama, though, she does not baby-sit for Dixie Dew or call and ask how her baby, Dixie, is doing. But she does save bones and meat scraps for her, and she did have a formal portrait of Dew done for me for my birthday, proclaiming, "I wish you knew all I had to do to get this dog to pose for this. I had to talk sweet to her and give her treats. Oh, and we washed her face, too."

Unlike Mama, too, she can always keep straight which city I'm in. She doesn't have to be reminded, just told once. Mama, though, was forever forgetting.

"Now, where is it that you're at?" Mama One had asked once.

"Kansas City," I reminded her.

"Oh, I told someone today that you were in New Jersey." How Mama One ever got Kansas City confused with New Jersey, I'll never know. That, though, is not ever a problem with Mama Two. She knows and she remembers.

In short, my sister has become a good Mama and for that, I am mighty grateful. But one thing bothers me: my sister doesn't have a mama and she needs one that'll be as good to her as she is to me in her role as Mama Two.

She needs someone to fuss over her, fuss at her, disapprove of the length of her skirts and brag on her for some of the much good she does.

So I'm looking for a good mother for my sister. But until then, Happy Mother's Day, dear sister.

Ronda Rich is the Gainesville-based author of the new book, "What Southern Women Know About Faith." Sign up for her newsletter.
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