An unconventional obituary

Now this[1] is an obituary.

It is, of course, written for a character, a real life character, who from the description[2] actually reminds me more than a little of my stepfather, whom I never got along with and who in fact contributed to difficulties my mother and I have had in the past, but who otherwise made my mother a very happy woman after a horrendous marriage to my abusive father.

A Google search to confirm the author’s name—it’s unclear from the obituary[3] itself and the article[4] that pointed me at it—yields Ray Ratto’s regret that Andy Corren cannot write his (Ratto’s) obituary:

I wish I had led the life required to have earned an obituary like Renay Mandel Corren. I have not done so, and neither have any of you. Our obits will essentially be: “Born, lived, annoyed, forgot to go to the doctor that one time, died, had their organs harvested, decomposed, and eventually jump-started a small patch of deadly nightshades.”[5]

This of course is true, but all of it elides the suffering that accompanied my stepfather’s life and undoubtedly accompanied Renay Corren’s, the suffering that in a way made them who they are. Some people, like my stepfather, evidently like Renay Corren, manage that and find solace and good cheer nonetheless. Some, like my mother, who continues to outlive a lot of bastards, rise beyond an abusive marriage, throw the bastard out, and find their way to a successful and happy life. Some, like me, fail to rise above any of it and are simply ground down by relentless trauma. Others, like my father, take their own traumatic childhoods and thoughtlessly spread that trauma to others.

We often celebrate those who “overcome the odds” and we might celebrate Renay Corren’s life or my stepfather’s life, but we must remember that they are exceptions. And don’t call me “strong.” These are ways of rationalizing pure evil.

Rest in peace, Renay Mandel Corren. Rest in peace, Paul T. Mapes. Rest in piss, Robert S. Benfell.

  1. [1]Andy Corren, “Renay Mandel Corren,” Fayetteville Observer, December 15, 2021,
  2. [2]Andy Corren, “Renay Mandel Corren,” Fayetteville Observer, December 15, 2021,
  3. [3]Andy Corren, “Renay Mandel Corren,” Fayetteville Observer, December 15, 2021,
  4. [4]Richard Luscombe, “‘The bawdy, fertile, redheaded matriarch has kicked it’: son’s hilarious obituary goes viral,” Guardian, December 16, 2021,
  5. [5]Ray Ratto, “Can Andy Corren Do My Obit When The Time Comes?” Defector, December 16, 2021,