Dec 182012

Welcome to the memorial website honoring the life of my late wife Elizabeth Ann (Williams) Shirk. This is an ongoing project so please drop by fro time to time. If you have information to add that you think I might find useful, please do so by commenting on this post.

Part of the reason for establishing the site is to try to fill in some of the blanks in my wife’s ancestry. She died of a hereditary disease–myotonic muscular dystrophy type I. No one in her family knew that this disease was a threat to them even though it is autosomal dominant, which means that either her mother or father must have had the disease, along with at least one of their ancestors, etc. There will never be a way to know for certain which of her parents had the disease, however what we know of her mother’s family would tend to point in that direction. Her mother was one of four siblings, three of whom died in their sixties. Myotonic dystrophy is known to shorten lifespan by a variety of means–respiratory failure, cardiac arrest, increased chance of cancer are some of the more common. In addition, her maternal grandmother died at age 63 in an Allentown, PA, insane asylum where she had resided for most of her adult life after the birth of her four children. Myotonic dystrophy can cause significant mental issues that in an earlier time might have been misunderstood.

Art will be a major theme of the site, as that was a major theme of Elizabeth Shirk’s life. She was an artist from the time she was a young child until shortly before her death. In fact, it may have been that the realization she no longer could create art hastened the time when she simply stopped breathing.

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