Jeff Shannon Never Gave Up, Never Gave In

Jeff ShannonI just got the news about the death of Jeff Shannon, one of New Mobility’s contributors.

Jeff and I got to know each other over the past few years. Our editor, Tim Gilmer, connected me with Jeff and at first we talked about his fight with the various severe medical challenges life has thrown at him. Then as we became friends, we talked about his life, how he carved out a good career as a writer, and the various people he met and worked with from Clint Eastwood to Roger Ebert.

For me the word “supercrip” is a badge of honor and Jeff was the ultimate supercrip — a mid-level quad working full time in a cool writing job that afforded the trappings of a good life in Seattle, home, and an adaptive van. Remember, an adaptive van’s cost is equivalent to a super expensive sports car.

Talking with him I was in amazement at how he kept fighting to live and go on when, after 30 some odd years with a stable injury, he was suddenly hit with frequent bouts of autonomic dysreflexia so bad he would have to be rushed to the hospital, time and time again. He could no longer work fulltime, he was looking at losing his house, yet he never gave up and managed a comeback — blogging for Roger Ebert and making a successful return to freelancing for New Mobility.

Even when he was admitted to the hospital with pneumonia this time, his first few Facebook posts were fairly light — sort of, here we go again, gotta be here for about 10 days on antibiotics.

Jeff never gave up, never gave in, a strong soul. The systems in his body finally wore out.

As a movie fan and professional movie critic, Jeff would know this quote from The World According to Garp, where Garp’s mom is explaining death to him: “You know, everybody dies. My parents died. Your father died. Everybody dies. I’m going to die too. So will you. The thing is, to have a life before we die. It can be a real adventure having a life.”

Jeff lived a life in full. Hard working, he had success in a career that he loved, plus family and friends overflowing. A huge music fan, he attended many concerts, including his first Eagles concert just four months ago. Jeff chose a life that truly was a real adventure.

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  1. terri o says:

    Thank you for writing this and for reminding us of that wonderful quote from Garp. I can’t begin to express my sorrow in a way that can be meaningful after your long friendship with Jeff, but I feel his loss as I do with all of our community’s losses. Always too soon and we lose the best.

  2. susan says:

    Thank you, Bob Vogel, for truly “seeing” my little brother Jeff’s broad scope amidst the incredibly challenging obstacles of his life. Our sister-in-law Sue told me today that Jeff was extremely clear and cogent in his last moments – I think he was seeing the next adventure in all its clarity and ever so ready.

    I also think that knowing Jeff, he would be working on an article right now for NM on the afterlife if only he could – but let’s hope he is cartwheeling without wheels with all his beloveds and the angels of heaven instead!

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