Margaret, a large, red-faced Irish woman, stuck her nose in my face and said, “Danny said if anything happened to him you’d take care of us—and you’d better!”
Danny, Margaret’s husband of 18 years, was dead. He had died on his way to give yet another campaign speech in his bid for reelection to a county office. Danny was a jolly Irishman, as irresponsible in his lovable ways as Margaret was tough, organized and determined. This was a case of opposites attracting. She was nine years older. They had one son, then four years old.
I had sold Danny a couple of hundred thousand dollars worth of life insurance over the years, but keeping it in force was a challenge. It wasn’t because he didn’t want the insurance; he was just forgetful, disorganized and easily distracted. His office was right across the street from mine and on many occasions my assistant, Judi Dacruz, or I would march into his office and say it was the last day of the grace period.
Danny would reach into his pocket, pull out a wad of bills and peel off enough for the next monthly premium (in those days before lock boxes). We even paid the premium a couple of times, something we can no longer do, of course. But he kept the insurance in force.
WE ARE THE ONLY PEOPLE WHO CAN CREATE AN INSTANT ESTATE WITH THE STROKE OF A PEN.
The day he died I was on my way back to the office after a lunch appointment and heard the news on the radio. I drove right over to his house, by now crowded with people—Danny had a million friends and acquaintances. When Margaret saw me through the crowd, she elbowed her way over to me and uttered the words I’ll never forget: “Danny said if anything happened to him you’d take care of us—and you’d better!”
I told her she’d be fine. She was and is, thanks in large measure to the insurance.
The power of life insurance
I tell this story not to pat myself on the back, but because it dramatizes the critical and essential role we play in people’s lives. When Margaret approached me, I started to tell her how sorry I was, but she was having none of that. She wanted to know that they’d be all right.
It’s you they seek
There were perhaps 75 people in Danny and Margaret’s house that day, all bearing cakes and chocolate chip cookies and seeking Margaret out with expressions of sympathy. But the one she sought out was me. I had the money.
Fortunately I had the money. It could have been otherwise. Danny was maddening and frustrating. He would be late for appointments, forget appointments, take forever to make a decision, not show up for his medical exam, bounce checks and generally be a nightmare.
But he was unfailingly jolly and always told me to keep after him. So I did, often grudgingly. I had kids to feed, a mortgage to pay, the Million Dollar Round Table to make and better clients and prospects than Danny. But I knew he needed me to stay with him and trusted that I would.
Life Insurance Awareness Month
As we approach the industry’s first ever Life Insurance Awareness Month this September, I hope all of us will remember that we have a franchise no one else has. We are the only people who can create an instant estate with the stroke of a pen. We are the only people who could have walked into Danny and Margaret’s house that day, looked her straight in the eye and said, “You’re going to be fine.”
Life Insurance Awareness Month reminds all of us that we don’t know which client it will be, but it is inevitable that the day will come—tomorrow, next month, next year—when a widow will look at you and say, either in words or with her eyes, "Are we going to be all right?"
May you always be able to answer, “Yes.”