Terminally Ill Milwaukee Woman Plans to Attend Her Own Funeral
MILWAUKEE (AP) _ Carrie Munson, terminally ill with cancer, wants to face her death head on. She’s scheduled her funeral early - so she can attend it alive.
Munson, 62, of Milwaukee sent invitations to her ″friends, associates and enemies″ and three sons for the Oct. 29 service. She said Wednesday she plans to enjoy it. Her sons plan to attend.
Munson, who has pancreatic cancer and has been told by her doctor she doesn’t have long to live, has had a remarkable life. She was raised in a poor Mississippi family, had a 25-year addiction to heroin, attended a university and hosted a radio jazz show.
Now, she is writing an autobiography called ″Bury Me in My Cap and Gown,″ and needs a final chapter - her funeral.
″As long as I can remember, I have always wanted to know when I was going to die so I could put things in order,″ Munson said. ″I want to watch the peoples’ expressions. I want to see the way they react.″
″I’ll get it all embedded in my mind and when I get home I’ll just write up that final chapter.″
Munson said the early funeral also is intended to send a message.
″I have a message for all these young drug addicts out there, and I have a message for the cancer patients,″ she said. ″The message is why be afraid. We’ve all got to die.
″Live every day to the fullest,″ Munson said. ″Don’t sit around and worry about death.″
The Rev. R. L. Lathan, pastor of the New Hope Baptist Church, has agreed to conduct the service.
″This is the first time I’ve had this kind of request,″ Lathan said. ″It’s very, very strange and unusual. She wanted to be at her own funeral and she wanted to be alive.″
Munson, who had a fourth grade education until she got accepted at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in her 40s, said she is strong because she has been on her own all her life.
She started taking drugs in Chicago. The heroin habit led to prison terms for crimes committed to get the drugs, including theft, prostitution, forgery and mail box fraud, Munson said.
″It took me 24 or 25 years to get off that darn stuff,″ she said, ″I said to myself, ’Either crawl out of the gutter and die or get off your butt and do something.″
Munson said she got accepted at UWM because of her ″enthusiasm.″ She graduated with a degree in mass communications and journalism in 1975. Since then, she has worked as the host of a jazz show at a radio station and most recently as a social worker with Wisconsin Correctional Services.
″I achieved all my goals,″ she said.
Munson said she expects many people to attend her funeral and ″it will be momentous.″
The only music in the service will be ″I Did It My Way″ by Frank Sinatra. ″I think it’s appropriate - I did it my way,″ she said.
Munson said she would wear her cap and gown at the funeral service, ″which I am very proud of.″
″And when I die, somebody better put it on me,″ she said.