VIENNA - Vienna resident Mary Jane Summers decided to write a book dedicated to her 6-week-old son, Patrick, who died in 1985 after being born with a terrible illness.
Summers is a smalltown girl from Glenville, W.Va., with a huge heart, according to many of her friends and family.
She began to write the book just after her son died, but didn't have a reason to finish it until her husband's death just over five years ago. Summers wrote the book called "When Angels Fly Home, Surviving Loss on Earth" about her life experiences and it was published about five years after the passing of her best friend and husband, George Summers.
Mary Jane Summers, of Vienna, is shown with the book she wrote about surviving grief, “When Angels Fly Home: Surviving Loss on Earth.” (Photo by Jeff Baughan)
Summers was 36 years old when she became pregnant with her second child, she said. She and her husband experienced the loss of that child, a 6-week-old boy, after he was diagnosed with a rare hereditary disease called tyrosinemia.
The disease affects 1 in 100,000 patients and is an error of metabolism in which the body cannot effectively break down the amino acid tyrosine, reports said. Symptoms of the disease include liver and kidney disturbances and mental retardation. The most successful treatment has been a full or partial liver transplant.
Summers said she believes her son, if he had lived, would have faced the need for a liver transplant.
"If he could have made it to 18 pounds (when he was born) he could have had a liver transplant but he probably would've had to have (one) every five years," she said. "It would have been hard."
Summers said she hopes to inform people with her book about going through the grieving process of losing a child or loved one.
"I'm just trying to say that we can go on and live a pretty normal life," she said. "It's hard, but life is tough."
Summers said her message with the book is the loss parents face and the incredible moments she had with her infant son. She said although his life was a struggle and she couldn't understand why she was being "punished," she realized not only why God gave her those moments but also why he had taken them away.
"I realized God doesn't make bad things happen; he's just there to pick up the pieces," she said.
After her 27 years of grief over the death of her young son, Summers felt the loss of her husband in August 2007, just a month after the couple celebrated their 40th anniversary in July 2007.
Summers said she had known her husband most of her life, meeting him when she was in sixth grade and he was in the eighth grade. George was a "very busy guy, a workaholic," she said. George began student teaching at Parkersburg High School when the young, newly married couple moved to Parkersburg. Mary said she was 19 years old and he was 20.
George Summers would teach chemistry and physics for a short time at PHS before becoming the purchasing director and assistant superintendent for Wood County Schools, she said. He was the manager of WEE Federal Credit Union on Dudley Avenue where he also employed his wife until she retired at the time of his death.
"He was a go-getter," Mary said of her late husband.
She said she received her 4-year-old black schnauzer dog, Sydney, a year to the day of her husband's tragic passing. She said Sydney has brought a brightness and strength to her life since George's death.
Mary and George's son William (referred to as Billy in her book) is a lawyer in Parkersburg. Mary said she and her husband were close with their son but after Patrick died they grew even closer.
William suffered from juvenile diabetes from the time he was 2 years old. She said after her husband's death her son always referred to his mother as his "rock."
"He's a good kid," Mary said of her son.
Summers said her brother is a minister and told her how truthful and real he thought the book was. She said she couldn't believe how the words just seemed to pour out of her.
"One of my friends told me it was like I had a little angel on my shoulder," she said of writing the book.
Little angel, that's what her son Patrick would always be to her.
The book can be bought for $12 on Amazon.com soon, by calling Summers at 304-295-8884 or visiting Chams Lebanese Cuisine on Market Street in Parkersburg.