Every now and then, an obituary comes around that’sit makes you wish you’d known the deceased. The latest viral farewell ran in the Fayetteville, North Carolina Observer newspaper as well as online on Wednesday.
Its subject, Renay Mandel Corren, 84, who died Dec. 11 in El Paso, Texas, vividly jumps off the page as a “plus-sized Jewish lady redneck,” a “bawdy, fertile, redheaded matriarch of a sprawling Jewish-Mexican-Redneck American family,” and a “brightly frocked, frivolous, funny and smart Jewish redhead.”
Corren’s son Andy wrote the obituary, and he rattles off a delightful list of his mom’s specialties.
“Here’s what Renay was great at: dying her red roots, weekly manicures, dirty jokes, pier fishing, rolling joints and buying dirty magazines,” he wrote. “She said she read them for the articles, but filthy free speech was really Renay’s thing.”
Corren’s son didn’t sugarcoat her complex life. Jokingly calling her a supermom and “perfect PTA lady,” he immediately retracts that, writing, “HA! HA! HA! Just kidding” and explaining that his mom “could occasionally be stirred to stew some stuffed cabbage for the kids.”
He also dubs her a “talented and gregarious grifter,” praising the “unlimited patience of her favorite son and daughter-in-law, Michael and Lourdes Corren,” who took care of her in her last years. And he notes that some of his mom’s stories — a possible affair with Larry King, being ranked 11th or 12th in the nation in cribbage, and coming up with the name for the gas company Sunoco — are likely untrue, but are still entertaining.
“Yes, Renay lied a lot,” he admits in the obit. “But on the plus side, Renay didn’t cook, she didn’t clean, and she was lousy with money, too.”
But there’s no question Corren remembers his mom fondly, ending the obit with “Bye, Mommy. We loved you to bits.”
Perfect strangers are loving Renay now too.
“Whatever you’re doing right now, stop doing that and read this,” wrote author Lauren Hough.
“This obit, my god,” writer Sarah Weinman said in a tweet.
And as the obit attracts more attention — likely the kind Renay no doubt would have loved — her son is taking the viral fame in stride.
“Life is not so overwhelming or so bitter or impossible that you can not take the reins and turn it into a story,” he told The Daily Mail. “I hope the world celebrates people like my mother.”