A Lesson in Unselfish Love, a Life Insurance Story
Aug 31, 2015
“Joe, someone is here to see you.”
Smiling broadly at the administrator, “You got to be kidding me, no one ever asks for me.” Being a fairly new associate, I did not have a large client base and still had to go to the client's homes to make my interviews; they never came to me.
Walking into the lobby I see a wisp of a man about my age standing at the long counter. “Good morning, I’m Joe Morrison” offering my hand in greeting while trying to remember if we had ever met.
“Hi. You don’t know me.” How observant. “You were at my Mom and Dad’s house the other day.”
“Oh, who are your parents?”
“Bobby and Brenda, I’m Bobby, Jr. I would like to speak to you about something I overheard the night you were visiting.”
“Sure, let’s go in the conference room. Can I get you a cup of coffee?”
Within a few minutes we were behind closed doors, sitting in the conference room ready to get down to the reason behind Bobby Jr.’s visit.
“Joe, when you were at our house, I was in the living room while you sat at the kitchen table with Mom and Dad; I thought I overheard you tell them that when I turned 18 years old I would be guaranteed to be able to get $50,000 of life insurance. Did I get that right?”
Bobby smiles for the first time. “I turned eighteen today; what do I need to do to make this happen?”
“Let me step outside, I will get the paperwork that we will need and I will be right back. The whole process will take about 45 minutes, if that is ok.” Bobby Jr. nods as I walk casually out the door, then sprint to my desk to get everything I will need to make this sale.
“Why are you running around Joe?” the Agency Manager Henry asks, as he smiles from his doorway.
“I got a client in the conference room who wants to buy some life insurance. If I have any questions, will you be free over the next 45 minutes or so?”
“Sure Joe, let me know if I can help.”
Returning to the conference room, I begin to complete a client record on Bobby Jr. As the questions are completed I am faced with a situation that causes me to seek council from Henry. Excusing myself from the conference room, I reappear to stand in the doorway of Henry’s office, “Henry can I ask you a question? I want to make sure I understand the child rider benefits. This man has a child rider that I believe allows for conversion to up to $50,000 in death benefit anytime between his 18th and 25th birthdays. Is that correct?”
Looking at the printout I provided of the Mom and Dad’s coverage. “That is exactly right.”
“Does that mean that no matter what his health is like, we have to insure him for the $50,000?”
“Yes, no matter what his health or occupation. Do you know if he has a health issue?”
“He just told me he has leukemia. Isn’t that a form of cancer?”
“Yes it is. Don’t even try for more than the $50,000 but the good news is he is guaranteed that amount.”
“Wow! Thanks Henry!”
Returning to the conference room, I finish up the application and asks Bobby how he would like to pay the premium?
“I would like to pay the bill monthly but I do not want the bill or the annual statement you mentioned to go to my Mom and Dad’s home. I spoke to my aunt, and she knows what I am doing. I would like any mail to be sent to her address. More importantly, I do not want Mom and Dad to know I did this. Will that be an issue?”
As a young agent, I was not 100 percent sure that these issues could be handled but I was pretty sure. Since Bobby Jr. had a younger sister, the rider would not be dropped from Bobby and Brenda’s policy. Since Bobby Jr. was the owner of the new policy, the confidentiality he wished would have to be honored. “I think we will be able to satisfy your requests.”
We completed our business and shook hands.
When we met, I was 23 years old and Bobby Jr. was 18. As the years past, we became close friends. We started to meet for lunch on a monthly basis, usually on a Thursday. Bobby Jr. would come to the office to pay his premium on that day of the week because I was normally in the office all day on Thursdays. Through the years I learned a lot about Bobby Jr. and even more about leukemia. Bobby Jr. was normally very quiet except when it came to one of his many passions, routinely unassuming yet charismatic, extremely humble and greatly optimistic. He was always eager to assist in any good cause; whether it was the Leukemia Foundation or a fund raiser at a local church. It didn’t matter if he was a member of the organization either; Bobby would jump right in and start to do what he did best; make friends and rise to the lead of the worthy efforts that needed to get done. He was a natural born leader with a heart of gold; an all around quality guy.
Leukemia on the other hand, Luke to Bobby, could be very quiet as well but at times forced itself to the center of attention. Bobby had a great sense of humor and often said that since he had to live with Leukemia he just as soon give it a name; so Luke it was. At times, Bobby would be his usual upbeat and energetic self and then, when Luke would take over, he would be drained of strength and so pale he could blend into the whitest of walls. The disease and the patient were polar opposites.
It was about five years after we initially met that Bobby Jr. made an interesting request of me. One wintery Thursday morning, Bobby Jr., made his monthly visit. It was one of those days where Bobby looked pale and withdrawn. I could tell he was not having a good day and over lunch, learned that he was having a rough week. The blood transfusions were not as effective as they once were. If an ant sneezed, Bobby caught its cold. When we returned, we went into my private office. I was now the agency manager with the company and had continued to grow personally and professionally, thanks to people like Bobby and his family. Closing the door behind us, Bobby sat down, withdrawing a plain white envelope from his jeans pocket.
“I want to ask a favor of you Joe.” Bobby started, leaning forward, offering me the sealed envelope. Before I could say anything, Bobby continued. “When I die, I know you will be the one to deliver the check to my Mom and Dad.”
I quickly interjected, “You are not dying buddy; you are just having a bad couple of days. The doctors are going to figure this out and in your lifetime, they will probably find the cure. Hell, I bet you will be the one responsible for raising the final dollar that pays for that research. Besides, you are only 23 years old.”
In Luke’s routinely patronizing weakened voice Bobby replied, “I know Joe, but I still want you to bring this letter to my Mom and Dad when I do die; no matter when it happens.”
Standing up from my place beside Bobby Jr., I went to my files, found Bobby’s folder, slipped the sealed envelope inside and returned the folder to its secure location. “You know I will my friend, so forget about dying and work on gaining back your strength. You know I still want to beat your behind in bowling but I am not going to let you use Luke as the reason behind your loss.”
Bobby Jr. gave Joe a big hug and they went about the rest of their day.
That was the last time I saw Bobby Jr. alive.
As with any of my clients, I personally handled all the details surrounding the insurance claim. Through the years, I had grown close to the entire family; Brenda, Bobby and their daughter Beth, whom was nicknamed Sneaky because she was said to be able to get away with anything. Shortly after the funeral, I received the check for Bobby Jr.’s insurance. On one hand, I was not looking forward to the emotional rollercoaster of this meeting, but on the other I was proud to be of service to the people that I served and especially to those I loved like family.
Arriving at their home, the door opens to immediate hugs from each of the family members in the entry way of their home. Arm in arm, the four of them glide to the kitchen table. The tears began to flow quickly as they reminisced about experiences with Bobby Jr. and how he had impacted so many lives in such a short period of time. Brenda brought out a large stack of cards and letters of condolences from all the people that loved her son. There was even a card addressed to Luke which had an unidentified sender. The card said that everyone was glad to see that he would not be allowed to follow Bobby Jr. There was no place in Heaven for Luke and they were happy that he would no longer be a source of pain to God’s faithful servant.
With a trembling hand, I place a sympathy card signed by everyone from my office in Bobby Sr.’s hand. My employees had met their son on many occasions and about six months prior, Bobby Jr. made a big impact on everyone when he gave a presentation on the impact Luke can have on the lives of others. His presentation was so powerful that many of them started to sell cancer insurance once they understood the financial impact the disease can have on families. He touched them by his deep faith and understanding of life; coming to the realization that we are all here for a short time, some shorter than others, but short none the less.
As they sat at the kitchen table, a pitcher of Brenda’s famous ice tea in the center, I began handling the business at hand.
“Brenda, I know you handle the finances for the family, so I will give you the check.” Placing the check on the table in front of her, she puts on her glasses and looks carefully at the amount. She was expecting a check for $5,000 not $50,000. Between the tears she allows herself a small giggle, hands the check back to me, and begins to shake her permanently crooked finger at me. She had severe arthritis which would not allow her to straighten her fingers completely.
“Joe, you are a good boy and I know you are doing well in your business but you have to be more careful. We will not say anything but other people might not be as considerate as we are. You should look at the checks before you bring them to the people, this check has one too many zeros, it is made out for $50,000 not $5,000.”
I too started to chuckle while tears streamed down my cheeks. “It isn’t a mistake Mrs. Brenda, your son did this.” I took a few minutes to recount how I met their son and how he, at a very young age, grasped the depth of his situation in life. Once everyone had regained some semblance of composure, I took out the blank envelope that I was given by Bobby Jr. Placing the envelope on the table in front of me, I shared the incident that brought this property into my possession.
“What is it?” Bobby Sr. asked?
“I don’t know it was sealed when he gave it to me and I never opened it.”
Everyone sat looking at the parcel not saying a word. It was as if each of them were contemplating what prompted Bobby to create this mystery that sat quietly in front of them.
“I believe it’s a letter based on the conversation we had at the time. With your permission, I’ll open it and see what it is.” Taking my pen, I slip it through the seal and eases out a single sheet of paper, with a brief paragraph hand written in Bobby’s neat script.
Hi Mom, Dad, Sneaky, and Joe,
If this is being read, I am very dead. (That is the extent of my poetic abilities)
I hope you are not sitting around crying, we all saw this coming for a long time. Get over it and smile; I’m hanging with Jesus and all the Saints.
The main reason for this note is to tell you, my family, that the check you just received from Joe is my way of thanking you for all you did for me through the years that I spent with Luke. You sacrificed so much because of me and Luke; I only wish the check could have been bigger.
I love you,
Silence cloaked the entire house as the message of this letter burned into the very souls of the people around the table. We each experienced the realization of the true depth of the loss felt through the forced separation from the presence of this warm and funny compassionate man causing the flow of tears to start all over again.
About the Author
Anthony “Tony” Boquet, a native of South Louisiana, has been happily married to Toni Ann for 34 years. They have two children, Thomas 26 and Tiffany 31, three adorable grandchildren, Madison, Blake and Tyler. His hobbies are playing guitar, instructing TaeKwonDo and self-defense classes in HapKiDo, riding motorcycles and reading.