Here’s the story… and no, it’s not of a man named “Brady”. It’s of a regular family living in St. Charles, MO. A man named Daymon sees a woman named Mary at his job in 1961 and says, “I’m going to marry that woman!” …and he does. They are quickly blessed with a little girl named Tina and then no more children came year-after-year, even though they tried.
This family made huge sacrifices for this little girl. They gave up every extraneous thing so they could afford to move into a nicer neighborhood. They wanted Tina to have a better life than they had as kids.
Now Mary, she was a pretty heavy smoker and after Daymon begs and pleads for her to quit smoking [remember, they were to give up all their frivolous expenses for this new house], she finally agrees and quits smoking. The following year she is blessed with another little girl names Sheryl.
Think back – this is 1971 and they were already a dual-income family. They needed BOTH incomes to just survive, not to have extras. Then 1974 came around and Mary was having a lot of difficulty with coughing and constantly being plagued with bronchitis. The family went down to Barnes Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, MO to come home with news that her lungs were filled with tumors…a week later they would find out Mary had Stage IV lung cancer with just months to live.
As you’ve picked up by now – – this is a story about my life growing up. My mother died the following year after painful chemotherapy, radiation, tracheotomy and metastasis to the brain causing paralysis of her left side. She died bald, gaunt, cut up, half of her body paralyzed and in agony. She was only 39 years old and we had no life insurance. This isn’t supposed to happen to families, but it does.
Life Insurance was rarely solicited to women in the 70’s — and the sad part is it continues to still be unsolicited to us today when we are more often found to be not only the primary caregivers, but the breadwinners too. (Don’t even get me going on single mothers and the lack of planning offered to them!)
I can attest to the importance a mother is to a family outside of the obvious income factor for us back in 1975 [which my father worked three jobs to pay for our caregiving and the regular household bills.] My mother made our lunches, braided our hair, gave the softest hugs and kissed our boo-boos. It wasn’t societally-embraced for men to do these things so I grew up without a mother to teach me these important nurturing qualities.
When it came time for college – nope, there was no money for that either. I paid for all of my higher education myself, not that it’s a necessarily horrible – but definitely preventable.
Every September we celebrate Life Insurance Awareness Month in the financial services profession. Only because I love my family and my friends do I continually press upon them the importance financial planning is in EVERY family situation: same-sex, couples only, families, single parents, special needs, etc. EVERY family needs to understand this kind of stuff does happen. And it will never happen when you expect it, even as we age we never really expect to die.
Please look at your insurance offerings at work this year and make appropriate choices. If you need help – ask for it. Look into the eyes of your children – your spouse – your loved ones and understand that although you cannot be replaced by a dollar bill, those dollar bills can represent what you would want for them in replace of time with you.
I keep reminding that we are here to serve others. Think about the experiences, the future, the potential that can come from providing for others once we have passed on.
Sheryl Brown / @BionicSocialite