50-Year-Old Letter Brings Red Cross Reminder

Post by Lynette Nyman/American Red Cross

returned letter
A 50-year-old letter with stamp cancelled “March is Red Cross Month” mark.

Recently, I was sorting through some old photos when I came across a letter that my mother Yvonne wrote nearly fifty years ago. She wrote it after her mother died in 1964. It was addressed to a family friend, but was sent back “return to writer” because no such address number was found. The 5 cent stamp on the envelope was cancelled with a mark that caught my eye: March is Red Cross Month. And so I opened and read it and learned of my mother’s great sadness from a loss too soon. While sharing the letter now, I wonder if Red Cross training in first aid and learning the signs of heart attack could have made a difference, giving everyone more years together and breaking fewer hearts.


March 26, 1964

My Dearest Blanche,

     …Mom had a heart attack Feb. 28, 4:30 A.M. She was taken to the hospital and lived seven days. We thought she would pull through but apparently the heart was damaged over half after the first attack. She suffered two more attacks Fri. night on March 6 and passed away 10:30 A.M. Sat. morning March 7.

     Our hearts are just broken. All of us are still in a state of shock as you know what this can do to a person. 

     Mom was looking real well before this happened. We did not know her heart was bad at all.

george and nola
Baby Yvonne with her mother Nola and father George in Los Angeles, circa 1930s.

     Mom was with Bill & I the weekend before. She & dad came over on Saturday and she had her 58th birthday Feb. 23. I baked her a cake and we had dinner home. I took them home on Tues. and she looked fine as far as I could tell.

     …on Thurs. night…just about 4:30 A.M. Dad woke up and heard her praying. He thought she was dreaming and reached over to shake her as he always did if she had a bad dream and when he did she said to him don’t it’s my heart. He jumped out of bed and asked her if he could get her some water. By the time he got back she was vomiting. She had an acute attack and vomited most of the time while in the hospital.

     Blanche, I will never get over this. I never dreamed mom would go this young in life. She was such a wonderful mother always. I feel like everything is drained from me.
I just miss her terribly. Dad is broken hearted. He never thought mom would go so fast. He said he knew she would get well.

     Blanche, I guess life ends very quickly sometimes & we are never prepared or ready for death ever. And it is so hard to accept. If you are ever out here come to see us! Dad will be with me now. Hope you are fine.


Yvonne and "her lover boy" Bill, circa early 1950s.
Yvonne and “her lover boy” Bill, circa early 1950s.

Decades later my father Bill (pictured left) had several heart attacks in his early 50s. We recognized the heart attack signs the second time around, but no one in the family was Red Cross-trained in lifesaving skills. Several years later I became a Red Cross volunteer instructor in C.P.R. and First Aid. Finally, one person in our household was trained. Because  of my personal experience with life-threatening emergencies and because it’s March, the official month of the year that we celebrate all things Red Cross, I encourage every one to take any step that can make a difference. Take time to take a Red Cross class and get trained with lifesaving skills that could benefit both you and your loved ones.

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