My great grandfather, William Malrose Spencer I, was a hard working man, who had a lot of stress in his life. It is my understanding that he was a stern man, which was probably common for the times, but my guess is that he was a Type A personality. These days, we know that high stress and a Type A personality are sure fire ways to an early grave. I can’t say that my great grandfather died what would be considered an early death in 1922, but these days, it certainly would be considered young. He was 64 years old, when he dropped dead of a heart attack right after hauling a bunch of logs up to a fence so they could be used for repairs around the farm.
On first glance at the picture of him with his cows, I saw a strong man taking care of his animals. But this picture was taken just a short time before Great Grandpa’s death. How could a man look so strong one day, and be dead of a heart attack just a short time later. Upon closer examination, I noticed that he was smoking a pipe. I suppose that his smoking could have contributed to a heart attack…especially when added to his Type A personality and high stress lifestyle. So many things that can contribute to an early death, were virtually unknown to people just a few years ago.
These days, while we don’t always pay attention to the experts on health issues, we are told what things can be detrimental to our health. Quite possibly, if my great grandfather had known what things he was doing that were likely to lead to a heart attack, he would have lived his life a little differently. These days too, we know about things like CPR, aspirin, blood thinners, and heart medications. Any one of those things could have prolonged his life…even after the heart attack. Unfortunately, none of these things was available…or at least not in the current forms that we have these days. So when the heart attack happened, Great Grandpa was simply gone in the blink of an eye. It is entirely possible that when the attack happened, he was alone, and that nothing could have been done when he was discovered, but just as many people in those days have had their heart stop and no one knew what to do, so they died even though there were people with them. While mouth to mouth resuscitation was first introduced in 1740 to save a drowning victim, CPR was not developed until 1960. Before that, if there was no heartbeat, it was all over.
It seems so sad to me that people back then died when there was often a simple way to resuscitate them and save their life. People simply didn’t know it. Those techniques had not come about yet. I’m sure that when people learned of those things later, they felt a twinge of sadness over the loss of a loved one who might have been saved has they lived in a different day and age. I know that as new technology comes about now, I feel sad for those who could have been helped by it, but there is nothing that can be done now. It was how things were in that time.