Throughout my whole life, my mom always told me that “everything happens for a reason.” She also liked to quote her own father’s saying, “you’ve been dying every day since you were born.” These phrases were not said with sadness in mind but with honesty and good memories at the forefront. If I had any random and obscure concerns about death that my mother found funny, she would usually remind me that I would die when God intended me to. These things may sound slightly strange, but they are true. My mom understood these things about death, and it honestly brings me a lot of comfort that she did.
Shannon Michael Shen, a beautiful, caring, loving mother and wife passed away on July 5, 2021, at home, a day after me and her spent a fun night at one of her favorite places, Walt Disney World, where a ridiculous number of memories were made.
My mom was born on March 5, 1973, in Cincinnati Ohio, the only child to her beloved parents that she told many stories about, Michael Benesch and Barbara Benesch. Everyone has these childhood stories, the memories associated with these stories might be happy or sad, but I strongly think my mom’s childhood memories are probably some of the happiest childhood memories that have existed. Pretty much anyone who knew her could tell you how fondly she looked back at her childhood, all her family members, and the simple joy that comes with being a child. From the time I was little to the last days I spent with my mom, she always had an interesting family story to tell me about; these stories could be about her, or her parents, or even family members that went a few generations back. On any day she could tell any story, including: how when she was very young she got to sit right behind and talk to Vernon Presley at an Elvis concert, how she had an audition for a Broadway production of Annie that she refused to go to (the role ended up going to a young Sarah Jessica Parker), her being offered to play the daughter of Robert Conrad’s character on the 1978 show The Centennial (she also didn’t go to this), her actually appearing on the Uncle Al Show from her native Cincinnati, a story about a relatives pet monkey, her mom being scared by a raccoon that had somehow got into their house, her dog being frightened by Santa Claus commercials, going to the store Gold Circle as a kid and getting a cherry red Icee, dancing on her dad’s shoes, being called Shannon May by her grandpa Bob, watching movies with her mom and dad, meeting my dad in Vegas, finding out about me on Valentines Day, and countless other happy, sad, and fun memories. My mom treasured these memories so much, and greatly missed her parents and other relatives she had lost. Little a day went by when she did not mention her parents, and I know she greatly wanted to see them in Heaven. I wish that I listened closer to these memories, but I am thankful to have heard them at all: they have shaped me as a person.
My mom in general shaped me as a person. Everything my mom did, was for me. She wanted me to be happy, successful, to be myself. She went out of her way to make life good for me, to give me opportunities that other kids just did not have. If I put myself down or doubted myself, she was always there to pick me right back up and tell me that she believed in me. She showed me movies, music, books, art, and was a best friend to me. That is what my mom is to me, a best friend, someone I could tell anything to, someone who would always listen to me, someone I could always have a fun day with. We spent so many days and extremely late nights together, I am thankful and blessed for those days, but it would be nice to have more.
My mom enjoyed painting, sketching, and other forms of creative expression. She sadly left behind many unfinished projects, but it is nice to have them to look at it. She particularly liked artists from the Impressionism Movement and the Post-Impressionism Movement. My mom had an eclectic taste in movies, books, and music. Some of her favorite movies were: Gone with the Wind, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Labyrinth, The Goonies, The Godfather, Cabaret, The Princess Bride, Harvey, Arsenic and Old Lace, and Lili. Some of her favorite musical artists were ABBA, The Beatles, Patsy Cline, The Andrew Sisters, The Supremes, Willie Nelson, Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, The Beach Boys, Herman’s Hermits, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Elton John, The Rolling Stones, Tom Jones, Queen, Johnny Cash, Tammy Wynette, and Katy Perry. My mom was an avid reader and had multiple ideas for her own novels. She enjoyed watching theatrical productions, vacations, and going to Disney.
I do not think my mom would want anyone to be sad for a long time about her death. She was not the kind of person to sit in her sadness: no matter what the circumstances were, or how bad it was, my mom always managed to find the good in a situation. She smiled, enjoyed the moment, and encouraged people to think positively. She was optimistic, encouraging, and supportive to her family and all those around her. She just wanted to be happy. She watched cartoons, went to Disney weekly, collected little toys and trinkets, and just kept a youthful and fun energy that I think a lot of people forget about in adulthood. After reading this, go smile, relax, remember your memories with her, and keep being happy. Remember her as the smart, beautiful, creative, and caring person she was. So, cheers to her, an amazing mom, wife, daughter, cousin, niece, and friend. I love you so much mommy.
“Come, little leaves,” said the wind one day, “Come o’er the meadows with me and play; Put on your dresses of red and gold, for summer is gone and the days grow cold.”
Soon as the leaves heard the wind’s loud call, down they came fluttering, one and all; Over the brown fields they danced and flew, singing the glad little songs they knew.
“Cricket, goodbye, we’ve been friends so long; Little brook, sing us your farewell song; Say you are sorry to see us go; Ah, you will miss us, right well we know.
“Dear little lambs in your fleecy fold, Mother will keep you from harm and cold; fondly we watched you in vale and glade; Say, will you dream of our loving shade?”
Dancing and whirling, the little leaves went; Winter had called them, and they were content; soon, fast asleep in their earthly beds, The snow laid a coverlid over their heads.
Come, Little Leaves
By George Cooper
She is survived by her beloved husband, Thomas Shen and beloved son, Michael Shen. Shannon has family members in Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Nevada, and California.
Her funeral service will be held on Wednesday, July 14, 2021, at 11 am at Collison Carey Hand Funeral Home. We will receive friends starting at 10 am. The service will be live streamed for those who are unable to attend.