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  • Writer's pictureTonya Penrose


I've had the privilege and blessing of calling Mary a new friend. Every blue moon I meet someone that I feel is an angel inhabiting a human body. That's Mary. Consider this my invitation to all of you to visit her website, blog, and get to know this talented and incredible woman.

Without further ado, here's a generous sampling about Mary and her book.

WHEN ANGELS FLY will leave a lasting imprint on you.

When Angels Fly” by S. Jackson (pen name) aka Mary L. Schmidt is a memoir of truths. Truths from the age of five years up living with an abusive mother. My teenage years became more abusive, and I left home only to fall into a relationship with a man that turned out abusive. There is hope! Always hope! Even with child loss. When I hung up my nursing hat in 2012, I decided to dig out old journals so that I could place them into digital format for my living son, but an epic memoir came from that thought. My youngest son, Sammy, inspired me to write this book. He fought a hard cancer battle. My memoir is not a sad book, rather it is uplifting and helpful to people around the world as I have testaments to that fact.

I wrote this book with passion and the understanding that my story would open a can of worms. It is true, I struggled and did have a tragic life, but so much good came from that. The good is my focus. To understand the good, one must know my truth. Suffering women and victimized children are scarred for life. The pain, hopelessness, and agonies with each bone and muscle screamed inside my head. But there is a clear reminder that there is a way out, there are good people in this world, and there is life after darkness. My faith in humankind, family, and love are not lost, but I survived by keeping my last hope alive, a faith in God. It took me a long time to realize that I was worthy as a normal human being, to feel happy and raise my children in a peaceful and a safe home. It is not easy to break away from an abusive mother and husband and domestic violence. But it can be done! Help is out there! Please don’t despair. If this fits you or someone you know, then help is available. Try a search online for the closest place to help you and your children. Note: Men are also abused by their wives. Help is out there for them as well.

Wounds may heal, but the aching scars are constant reminders of everyday pain, every minute of struggle and the irreplaceable loss of two of my children. Child loss is the King of Loss, and only one who has lost a child can relate to a mother who has kissed her baby goodbye for the last time. Photographs included in my memoir bear testament to my truths, prove my words are true, and prove the love that can exist despite how one grows up. Life does not happen in a vacuum. You can have a significant event in your life - a wedding, a birth, a serious injury/illness or - regrettably - a death - but that doesn't mean the rest of your life is put on hold so you can either bask in or contend with that event, uninterrupted. Grappling with the devastating diagnosis and treatment of Sam's cancer - from "big ticket items" like a previous tragic loss of a baby, to the somewhat less "dramatic", but still significant challenges, like a long commute to the hospital where my son required very lengthy stays (translating to, among other problems and complications, prolonged absences from my other son). One has to remember that when they see someone struggling to come to terms with a [negative] life event, when maybe they shared a similar event of their own or know someone else who has and seemed to recover "faster" or "easier", that there are many "side" circumstances that translate to significantly different experiences. If you lose a child but you have a supportive family helping you through it, that's an ENTIRELY different situation than losing a child and having family member(s) sabotaging and knocking you down at every opportunity. If you lose a child under such extreme circumstances, you can't judge YOURSELF against others who also suffered a tragic loss but had the love and support I didn’t have.

Life lessons abound in my story, and one of the important ones not written about above is to be there for your sick child. Be an advocate for your child. Nursing units are busy. Things happen. If your child receives their IV antibiotic an hour late, don’t complain, but if pain medicine is more than 30 minutes late, call the nurse. If you child has the wrong medicine or chemo hanging and running into your child, then STOP and get nurse ASAP. Be involved in your child’s care. Take notes and keep track of what your child receives. Read literature and handouts. Talk with other parents on the unit. But don’t pick on each (wrong) as you will only alienate the nursing and medical staff and they won’t want to take care of your child. Be a true advocate for your child. Shower with love and hugs as you may not have another chance. I openly give my children, and Sammy with cancer, a final, beautiful gift in sharing him with the world his story of incredible grit, wisdom beyond his years, and beautiful soul. Stop your busy lives for a moment and take a close look at your blessings. Stretch out your hand to the helpless, sick, and needy, wipe away the tears of a crying child or just hug the person next to you (when Covid-19 is over). Kindness matters and support encourages. A little sign of love will not go unnoticed. Stand up for the voiceless, and do not be afraid to be a voice for victims. A huge thanks to “Authors Lounge” for inviting me to share a piece of my soul."

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