On May 13, 2012, Mother’s Day, I happened to glance at a paid obituary in the Redlands (California) Daily Facts for Mary Russo McCormick, born in 1934 and died on May 6, 2012. She had penned it herself. It read, in part, “Mary did not have a courageous battle with anything and did not pass on, go to join anyone, or go to a better place. She died.” After recounting her life and love of family, friends, and travel, she wrote: “A convinced atheist, she wanted a private and unceremonious cremation and she did not want a funeral. Anybody who’s interested can come to her interment in Redlands, followed by lunch at Lupe’s on her. She had a truly interesting life, and she enjoyed it, which is all anybody can hope for.”
I wrote a short letter to the newspaper saying that I found McCormick’s obituary utterly engaging, full of humor, and honest and that it had made me smile and even giggle with delight. So, with such a letter, did I come out of the atheist’s closet? I think a close reading would intimate that I was sympathetic, but I didn’t say “I’m an atheist too,” did I?