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Eulogy for Minnie Munsey

Raymond Downing, MD
JAMA. 1982;247(7):972. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03320320016008.
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Every time we visited Minnie Munsey, we found her second husband John sitting on the front porch smoking, obeying the NO SMOKING sign Minnie had posted in the house. We were usually met by two small, yapping Chihuahuas, a species Minnie kept because they were supposed to "catch" some of her asthma, relieving her of it. The house was furnished like many others in the east Tennessee hills: a Warm Morning wood stove stood in the middle of the living room, the chairs were soiled but sturdy, and a picture of Jesus kneeling in prayer occupied a prominent place on the table. More striking in this house, though, were the blue plastic egg cartons tacked on the wall in the shape of a cross, symbol of a faith apparently the same as mine, though at times elusive and almost unrecognizable to me.

We visited Minnie because of her asthma and


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