Jerry Mcgill lives in Portland, now. But he remembers what life was like as a 13 year old boy growing up in New York. One New Year’s eve night, while walking home after staying at a friend’s home a little too late, a gunshot pierced his back leaving Jerry paralyzed, quadriplegic and in a wheelchair. His assailant is unknown and was never caught.
And for whatever reason, Jerry names his assailant Marcus. Many years later, Jerry has something to say to Marcus. But, he didn’t write his book Dear Marcus, A Letter To The Man Who Shot Me for Marcus’ sake. He wrote this book for people like himself. He wrote this book for those who endure, overcome, forgive and move on. Jerry Mcgill’s story is one of triumph and redefining his perspective on life. Jerry is resilient and determined. He’s a retired high school English teacher, travels extensively and had experiences some of us only dream of. Sure, his story moves and evokes emotion, but don’t waste one second feeling sorry for Jerry Mcgill. Jerry’s book Dear Marcus a Letter to the Man Who Shot Me can be purchased at local bookstores and online at amazon.com.
What was thirteen like before being shot? What was thirteen like after being shot?
Thirteen was truly fun and invigorating before being shot. I had a ton ofgood friends from all races and social lines in New York and I was veryactive in sports and the arts. After my shooting I was thrown into a haze that would last for about a year. I had to do a lot of readjusting and it was overwhelming for a time.
We have a tendency to focus on age and ignore the spirit. When peoplehear your story they tend to sympathize and focus on your age. But whatabout your spirit? Do you believe something about your spirit was able toreceive such a harsh lesson so young? Am I off here or do you agree? If you agree, why you, why that experience and why so young?
I do indeed believe my spirit had much to do with my successful recovery. I believe that I always was and always will be a fighter. I am simply not a quitter. Despite having some dark and negative feelings about existence I am primarily first and foremost an optimist. I have no idea why I was given the ability to test my strength at such a young age. Honestly, I believe my selection was simply random. I don’t necessarily believe “things happen for a reason.”
I know you forgive and advocate forgiveness. Does the thought of not knowing who shot you ever rear its head? If so, how do you deal with this?*
The thought of never knowing the identity of the shooter NEVER arises in my life. It would be such a futile thing to ponder on and I don’t have time for such wasteful actions. I am trying to achieve so much in my short time on this earth and to focus energy on that would be counter productive.
Why the name Marcus…where did that come from? In the title, You refer to Marcus as a man, not a boy. Do you think a man shot you?
I get asked this question often and truth is I have no real strong idea why the name Marcus leapt out at me. It was the first name that came to mind and I am a firm believer in following your first instinct. As for the man versus boy – it could very well have been a boy. My intuition tells me it was a man. But hey, I’ll never truly know.
You do not want people to feel sorry for you. Does this sound
familiar, “At some point in life all of us will be in the wrong place at the wrong time…when that moment arrives all that will matter is that you had the strength and the fortitude to lift yourself up, open the door and step out into the light.”
I ABSOLUTELY, UNEQUIVOCALLY do not want people feeling sorry for me. There is no reason to. If I had died or been left a vegetable or something, maybe then. But no, my life has turned out just fine and I have been an extremely fortunate individual in so many ways. There is NO EARTHLY REASON to feel sorry for me.
You have a way of captivating young audiences. Is there a message you want to convey to them?
I would love it if young people are able to do something that most of us as adults struggle with. That is – appreciate your life. Appreciate what you are able to do. Know that you have so much to contribute to the world. Focus on ways that you can be the BEST YOU. And don’t waste time on trivial matters. Time is so precious.
I hear you are working with disabled people all over the world, can you speak on that?
Well, I am attempting to write a book that chronicles the lives of people with disabilities from all over the world. I feel on a very deep level that these stories of these lives can be very effective on so many levels. I have interviewed three subjects already. My latest I had to travel to Kenya for and it was well worth the effort. However, this project is expensive and time consuming. I would love to have it completed by 2016.
Are you single?
I lead a life of solitude. I am a loner by nature. However, if you happen to have Esparanza Spalding’s number…