So, following the directions in the genealogy books I'd read, I sent away for my grandmother's death certificate. I remember clearly the day I received it - I opened the envelope standing in our kitchen, with my mother eagerly looking over my shoulder. My grandmother Bessie Blanche Stoelt had died at home, 14041 Rosemont Street in Detroit, of pernicious anemia complicated by myocarditis. She died on the 21st of December, 1931 - on her husband's birthday, four days before Christmas, at the age of 33. Her parents (my great-grandparents) were Herbert K. Randall and Claudia Thompson, the great-grandmother I was named for.
That would seem to be sad enough, to begin with, but over the years I discovered there was more to the story. According to Grandma Ervilla Stoelt (who'd heard the story from Grandpa Stoelt), Bessie had had a falling out with her parents the summer of 1931, in the later stages of her pregnancy. The last time she saw her father, he shouted at her and slammed the door in her face. My mother Mary Elizabeth Stoelt was born in August, and at the end of October Bessie's mother Claudia Thompson Randall died (coincidentally) of liver cancer and pernicious anemia. In Claudia's obituary, there was no mention of her surviving daughter Bessie or the new granddaughter, only her son Ray Thompson Randall.
I think the myocarditis was a broken heart.