It wasn’t until heart problems started to hit family members in my generation that we realized that there may be some correlation to what my grandfathers’ generation, my mothers’ generation, and now my generation were facing. Before I could understand my own heart disease, I had to look back at the heart diseases others in the family had faced. Soon, I would eventually discover more about myself in the process.
Unfortunately, I know only few facts of my grandfather. He was born in 1922 in the state of New York. He was a tall, thin young man who had worked as a hard laborer at the local GM plant to support his family. He was a relatively quiet man who also enjoyed playing the organ at church. He married my grandmother when she was only 18; he was 11 years her senior. They lived a very modest life, in a small home and eventually had three children; my Mom, my Aunt Sandy, and my Uncle Tom. In 1971, At age 48, he passed away suddenly, having no known prior illnesses. From what details I’ve gathered, Cardiac Arrhythmia’s (whether his heart was beating too fast or too slow, we don’t know) lead to his heart attack and ultimately his death. He left behind a young wife, my grandmother, who would have to find the will and the way to support her three young children.
Ten years had passed since his death. My Aunt Sandy, along with my Mom, were young women now with young children of their own, and my grandmother was raising my Uncle, a young and budding teenager. Grandma had managed to raise her children by herself, with many struggles I am sure, but she did it – “…without the need for help of a husband.” she would later on in life go on to say.
It was May 1981 when suddenly another tragedy would hit and this time it was Aunt Sandy. Aunt Sandy was an outgoing young woman who enjoyed attending church and participating in all sorts of events. She wasn’t all too shy and she enjoyed being goofy and fun. Grandma would always tell me how much I reminded her of Aunt Sandy – – – I think we would have gotten along great! She had just had a baby boy, my cousin Jason, who was not even a year old yet. Apparently, while walking across the street in town, she suddenly collapsed. Again, another member of the family had been struck dead due to issues with the heart. She was otherwise a healthy, young woman who passed suddenly at the age of 21, leaving behind her son to be cared for by his father.