Originally posted by leitmotiv:
Apropos of this, I remember reading Sandberg's bio of Lincoln 37 years ago and was taken aback by the mortality rate of frontier women he noted, most of whom died in childbirth. Lincoln's mother died of "milk sickness" and he had a stepmother. His oldest sister died in childbirth. Even in our age it is hard enough to keep women alive, one of my childhood friends died suddenly of an antibiotic-resistant infection in her 20s, another friend nearly died from cancer recently, and several are constantly sick. Without the male's obliging to cash in his chips due to cigarettes, booze, overwork, wars, random violence, etc, starting at an early age (I consider it a miracle I made it beyond 20 I broke so many bones and took so many risks in my teens), there would not be so many widows around. Women are strange. Some are indestructible and others pass like butterflies at the end of their season. Two hundred years ago the attrition must have been brutal. Of the five sisters in my mother's family, one died in infancy, and two died before they were thirty. My mother made it to ninety-one only undone by a masterpiece of medical malpractice, and the baby sister is ninety-one.