Richmond obituaries are different from those I recall reading in California. Granted, I was younger in California and perhaps did not read the obituaries as closely as I do now. By closely I mean that I mentally calculate the average age of death for the day, and if it comes out to be more than ten years older than I am, it's a good day. More than fifteen years older is a great day. Meanwhile, I am convinced by the content of the obituaries that the reason I still live is due to my general lack of accomplishment and the fact that my friends and family are not breathlessly amazed by the extent of my kindness to strangers, overwhelming generosity of spirit, beautiful singing voice, and unbending cheerfulness.
But I'm pretty well convinced that the South has not lost its grip on Richmond when it comes to obits, and that's a good thing. No one "dies" in Richmond, or very few, at any rate. They "depart this life" (my personal favorite), "go home to be with their Heavenly Father," "begin their journey to the Lord," "enter into their Eternal Rest," are "called home" and so on. Nicknames are extremely popular in the South, and they are always included in the write-up, no matter how undignified the nickname may be, or how seemingly unsuited to the photograph of a grim, cadaverously ancient gentleman or lady. Examples are usually plentiful, but I can find only two in the past few days: Emroy M. Adams "Boodie Bump," and Donald Hugh Etheridge, Sr. "Hawkeye." May they both rest in peace. Many times it is obvious that family members have written all or most of the obituary, and often to the delight of readers. This morning we were informed that an 86 year old lady had "turned to shopping as a profession, after a brief career in nursing, and made a greater effort to stimulate the economy than President Obama ever will. The vast majority of Richmond merchants will mourn her passing." What fun!