It has been said many times, we are only sure of two things happening during our lifetime. That would be death and taxes. One is in God's hands; the other is in the hands of the Democrats.
I’m not here to discuss politics so let’s skip that one and let’s just talk about death.
By now you’ve probably read my first article on terminal illness and you are probably wondering why I would write about this subject on a “Disney” travel website. What gives him the right? And what makes this guy think he’s an expert on terminal illness? Let me try to answer that.
First of all, I’m a little older than most of you. I’ve had a lot of personal experiences dealing with death and loved ones. Even though this is not a good combination, it does qualify me as having experience. But I also feel qualified because of my line of work.
As an Independent Insurance Agent, I deal with a lot of illness issues. Some of these include people with cancer. And, I’ve seen how somebody with cancer accepts it as terminal even though the words were never uttered during our meeting with them and their family.
And why on a Disney travel website?? Because even people that have been diagnosed with cancer, terminal or not, can benefit from a trip to Disneyland or Walt Disney World. And we here at Mouse-aid.com are doing everything in our power to help people with disabilities and illness’s enjoy this experience.
My personal inspiration came about three years ago. One of my clients was diagnosed as terminal with pancreatic cancer and given less than six months to live by her medical team. I learned so much from this lady. I feel the need to help educate everyone about learning how to live with this diagnosis.
Just for the sake of putting a name to this story, we’ll call her Betty. Betty was a nice lady with a twinkle in her eye who worked very hard in life to help her husband support and raise their two children as they were growing up. By the time she turned sixty, she was a mother of two, grandmother of seven and a widow of five years.
Her husband, Bill, left this world as a result of a car accident on a snowy January day about three years before I met her and he didn’t have any life insurance. Betty was forced to take on all the responsibilities they had shared for thirty three years.
I was at one of the businesses that I was enrolling into some Aflac insurance products and we hit it off really well. She was quick to ask questions and seemed like she understood the benefits of enrolling more than the rest of the employee’s.
Betty decided to enroll in the Cancer and Disability Plans and hoped and prayed that she would never have to use them but she also knew that if she wasn’t working, the bills would not get paid.
Almost a year had past when during a drive to Buffalo, my cell phone went off and I saw her name pop up on my caller ID. I answered it expecting to hear Betty’s warm voice but I was shocked top hear a man say, “Mr. Henry….. I’m Betty’s son and she asked me to call you. She would like to know if you would be able to come to our house and see her. She has a lot of questions concerning her Aflac coverage. She has cancer.”
As I gathered just some of the details from him I felt sadness come over me. This was the call that I always dread receiving. I told him to expect me later in the afternoon. To say that I couldn’t stop thinking about Betty would be an understatement but I also knew that I had to pull myself together before I got to my favorite engineering group near Buffalo.
That morning was long and the afternoon dragged on with my mind wandering from time to time about Betty and her family. On the way home, I called my wife to let her know my plans had changed and that I would be late coming home. She said she would have dinner waiting for me when I got home.
As I pulled my car into Betty’s driveway, I noticed many things about her home. It looked very pleasant with flowers growing everywhere. It looked almost like the old Better Homes and Gardens magazine covers that my aunt always displayed on her coffee table.
I grabbed my briefcase from the back seat as Betty’s son came out to greet me. He led me inside and introduced me to the rest of the family. When Betty walked out from the other room where she was sitting, her face lit up and she said, “I thought you’d never get here.” “What took you so long?” Then she laughed and came over and gave me a hug.
We sat at the kitchen table and she told me about her diagnosis and said she needed some help with the claim forms. I told her I would take care of everything for her and not to worry about them. I took the time to explain to her and the rest of the family how the whole process worked and answered all their questions before driving home.
Within about two weeks, I received a check for Betty for a little over eight thousand dollars and called to let her know I’d be dropping it off later that afternoon. When I pulled into to her driveway, I was surprised to see that nobody else was there. When she came to the door she smiled and let me in and the kitchen smelled wonderful. You know….. there is something about that hot apple pie smell, just from the oven. She asked if I’d like a piece and I said, “Yes Ma'am” with a big grin on my face. The pie tasted as good as it smelled.
We talked about her cancer as I gave her the check and said she could use it to pay some bills ahead so she wouldn’t have to worry about them. She laughed at me. She said, “That’s one thing I’m not worried about.” When I asked her what she planned on doing with the money, she said,” I’d like to take my grandkids to Disney World.” Her whole family had dreamed of going there. “Do you think that would be enough money to do it with?” “Would you help me plan this trip”?
I took her telephone and called my AAA Travel agent and told her what we wanted and asked her to see what might be available and get back to me. What we needed was four rooms at POP. One for Betty and two Granddaughters, one for her son, daughter in law and two children, one for her daughter and three children and one for her sister and brother in law.
Traci was quick to return the call and said it was available for next Sunday through Friday, but we would need to book it right away, which we did. We also called Air Tran Airways and booked the flights for all seventeen people. We were even able to get them all on the same flights.
In the short period of time of about a half an hour, Betty used her cancer money to fulfill her families dream. They were going to Disney World.
I got several calls from Betty while they were there and she told me how much fun they were all having. She’d laugh and say,”Wish you were here. I thought of you and Patti while watching Wishes.”
I was at the airport that night when the family returned home and Betty thanked me several times for helping her plan the trip. She talked so fast about all the things they’d seen and done. I have never been happier at an airport.
During the next month, Betty's health got worse and she started looking very jaundiced and she became very weak. I visited her almost every day and watched as our Lord guided her along the way. When I felt the time was getting near, I made an excuse to the family so they would have the final minutes alone with her.
The funeral service did not do this lady justice. But two of her grandkids placed their “Mickey” and “Minnie” dolls in her casket before they closed it and said, “Now Grandma will always have Mickey and Minnie with her.” Yes, it made me cry to watch this.
So with that little story in mind, do you think I’m qualified to write these articles? You better, because there are more articles coming in the months ahead. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy writing them.
Tom Henry. aka: pogo