He was almost 38 years old when he died in 1917. The death certificate informant was his mother. He was listed as "single" and worked as a "shipping clerk." The cause of death was "paresis" which he had suffered with for "over 3" years.
His obituary tells a different story. It says he was "united in marriage to Miss M----" who still survived him. And, it states his direct cause of death as a "nervous breakdown."
Of course, the death certificate could have mistakenly listed him as single, but most likely his mother lied. But, why?
|Death Certificate showing cause of death: Paresis|
Today, I decided to see out more about his cause of death: paresis. Wikipedia has an entry called "general paresis of the insane." It fascinatingly, and disturbingly, tells the story of a horrible neuropsychiatric disorder. As the disease progresses, the symptoms that occur include:
- mental deterioration
- personality changes
- loss of social inhibitions
- asocial behavior
- impairment of judgment
Thankfully, this disease now has a cure and is only seen in third-world countries. The cure came after WWII in the form of penicillin.
What causes this horrible disease? Syphilis.
So, he had syphilis and suffered horribly for two to three years. He and his wife had only married a little over two years before his death. I wonder how long she watched him suffer? If she stayed with him, or left him as his symptoms worsened? And why did his mother said he was "single" on his death certificate?
Just a few years later, in 1920, his wife was listed as a "widow" and lived with her parents in a different county. In 1930, she had two small children - ages 2 1/2 and 5 - and had been widowed for the second time. And, by 1936, she had been married and widowed for the third time.
What a sad story for this young man; his wife who lost not one, but three, husbands; and his mother, who probably watched him suffer and die.