I tell all my clients that if they ever need anything, I’m here for them. Early in my career, I had to fulfill that promise to a brother Knight.
Jim McDermott wanted to cancel his Knights of Columbus insurance. So, I sat down with Jim and his wife, Roslyn or “Buzzy.” After we went through all their needs and financial options, Jim decided to keep his coverage.
One day, about a year and a half or so later after that conversation, Jim reached out to me and said, “Ryan, you always said if I needed you, you’d be here. Well, I need you now. I need you fast.”
I was able to go out and see Jim and Buzzy that Tuesday night. When I walked in, I saw Jim — he had been diagnosed with terminal cancer.
We talked for a few moments and it became clear that Jim’s time was short and that we had a lot of work to do in a short period of time. While I was there, we did a great deal of paperwork. We updated everything: We changed ownerships, updated beneficiaries, dotted the i’s, crossed the t’s, got the wills completed and made sure that Buzzy had a plan so that when Jim was gone, she would know what to do.
I was at the McDermotts’ house for about four hours that night.
Some types of advisors charge for their time, for advice and for help. But for me, it was an honor to be with the McDermotts that evening because I knew I was making a difference for a brother Knight and his family.
At the end of the evening, Jim was resting in his recliner because he couldn’t get around. And he turned to Buzzy and me. Grabbing both of our hands, he said, “Buzzy, when I’m gone, I want you to do whatever it is Ryan tells you to do, because he promised me he’d take care of you.”
I walked to my car with tears in my eyes that night. As a 25-year-old man, that was a pretty deep thing for me to take in. This man’s final wish for me was to make sure that his spouse was financially taken care of.
We agents talk about it all the time, that when a brother Knight passes away, we’ll be there for them. But to truly be there, to be the hands and feet, if you will, of Father McGivney serving the mission of protecting our brothers — it just hit me.
I was supposed to meet with Jim again the following Tuesday. But I didn’t. Instead, I was at his wake.
It was my first Irish wake. It was at his brother-in-law’s house, and I didn’t know anybody. But when I walked in that front door, Buzzy met me and she grabbed me by the hand. She introduced me to everyone, to the 40 or 50 people there, saying “This is Ryan. He’s our financial guy, and he’s going to take care of me. I’ll be just fine.”
She wanted to let every single person in her family know that she was going to be taken care of and that none of them had to worry about her. It was great getting to see the peace that the Knights of Columbus brought to that family.
When it came time to file the death claim, I sat with Buzzy through all of it. We spent about 80 hours the first few months after Jim passed, getting everything taken care of. Initially it didn’t look like she would receive the majority of her assets, which were substantial, for up to 90 days.
But it was very clear to me, though, she needed the help now to pay the expenses that had been incurred, and to help take care of her family.
So when I completed the Knights of Columbus claim, I paid to overnight it to the home office, and we were able to put money in Buzzy’s hands within three days.
I know that meant the world to Buzzy. And it meant a great deal to me, knowing that I got to honor Jim’s wishes and take care of her.
What was really special was that as my relationship with Buzzy grew, the more I was able to help and the more the Knights had an impact on her life. I even drove Buzzy to the Social Security office when it was time for her to file.
I know that it meant a lot to Buzzy that, even though Jim was gone, somebody was always there. Someone was looking out for her; somebody who had her best interest at heart. That was me, that was the Knights of Columbus.
Helping the McDermotts will always be one of my most cherished memories.
That was about six years ago. Buzzy is one of my most active clients. Earlier this year, she was looking to sell her house and called me to ask who I thought the best real estate agent was. I asked her if it was okay if I shared her story. She said she’d be honored and proud, because it was the Knights of Columbus that she put trust in. She said, “I could have done business with anybody.”
The Knights of Columbus offered support when everybody else just sent bills and condolences. Everybody says they’re going to be there for you, but we really were. We really are.
I got to live in the footsteps of Father Michael J. McGivney. That’s why this job is so great.
Ryan Lister is a general agent in Missouri. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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