We spoke to Mary’s daughter on Tuesday, 4 days before a passer-by spotted her car at the bottom of a ravine 250 feet below the road; she was worried because her mom had not come home the night before. On Saturday, 2/27/10, Mary's daughter was notified that her mother was ejected from the car after it went off the side of the road and was killed.
I saw the story on the news and immediately thought back to my last meeting with Mary just one month ago. Our conversation about her job loss and her largest priority – taking care of her family – stuck with me.
I never imagined it would be the last time we would speak.
Last month, we invited Mary into the office for her annual insurance review; something we had done with Mary for the past 9 years in a row. Mary never turned down our annual meeting and as always, she was pleasant and attentive as we reviewed her insurance program with her – car, renters and life insurance. Since our previous visit, Mary had lost her job and was living off of her unemployment benefits. She was using the time off to spend time with her brother who was terminally ill and care for her disabled son. Although she was anxious to get back to work, she was thankful for the time she had to spend with them both.
Mary only had one concern she brought up at our last meeting; she needed to reduce her insurance costs. She needed to make adjustments to make ends meet until she found a new job. We went over some options with her car and renters insurance.
Then, we moved our attention to her life insurance but she did not want to discuss any changes to her life insurance plan. She was very adamant that she would not lower her life insurance coverage because that money was there to take care of her family in case something happened to her.
Her permanently disabled son always needed help and if she was not there to give it, money would need to be available to make sure someone else would be. She would rather cancel one of her other policies (if it came to that) before lowering or cancelling her family’s life insurance. We were able to make enough tweaks for Mary to last another 6 – 12 months before we would need to consider more drastic alternatives. Hopefully, that would buy Mary enough time to find another job.Mary did not make it another 6 - 12 months.
Just one month after our meeting something happened that could have happened to anyone. Colorado’s icy roads took Mary’s life. Someone else will have to care for her disabled son. Someone else will have to look after her family. Fortunately, because of Mary’s commitment, her family’s financial loss will not equal their emotional loss.
Mary did the right thing for her family and she set a great example for the rest of us. You will be missed, Mary.