Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Honestly, it's the best policy

When you're 19, the first thing on your mind is what you're doing that evening, and the last thing on your mind is what you're going to do when you're 59...69...109.
This is not Mr Happe,
but he did sing "Happy."
Mr Happe looked younger
than this at 95.

But having lived through the Depression, and not really being sure it was over, my parents were prudent people, perpetually planning for provident possibilities (in case they didn't have a pot to 'p' in.) So it was that after six or seven months of urging me to do so, I finally relented and met with Mr Hermann Happe of the New York Life Insurance company.  Again, I'm 19 here, and not really thinking very far beyond the next six pack or large 16" pie with anchovies and extra cheese, but Mr Happe promised that he would come over at 7 pm and make it short so I could join my ne'er-do-well companions for our usual debauchery.

Mr Happe lived to be a very old happy man, so what he said to me was important, and I have remembered it since.  Life insurance gets more expensive every day you're still standing, so get it while you're young! I bought a policy that night that would pay a hefty pile to my survivor(s) and ran off to blow my paycheck on the finer things in life, probably a quart of beer and a crab fluff.

As the years went by, Peggy became not only my best friend and the woman I love, but also, less romantic but still worthy of mentioning, the beneficiary of the jumbo insurance payout.  The rates went down when I quit smoking, and thirty years ago, I met with a NYL agent who switched the policy to something that I could cash in if I wanted, or roll over into something else.  But that was 30 years ago, and who thinks 30 years ahead?  (If I did that now, I'd be thinking of gossamer wings and what type of harp I want to play.) 

30 years went by and recently I was contacted by a man named Danny Miller, who is Mr Happe's successor at NYL. He and his coworker, the equally remarkable Terry LeGar, came over and showed me how to set up an account to take care of me in case I wind up lin a long-term care situation and also provide enough for Peggy to have diamonds and pearls all over the place once I shuffle off to Buffalo, or wherever the next stop is.  Danny and Terry are in the business of helping people plan for retirement and those seemingly inevitable next steps that lead up to moving into a one-person bungalow with six handles and six pallbearers. I feel better knowing that Peggy will be all right, and that some lucky caretaker will draw the enviable task of helping old Mr Clark put on his slippers and pad down to the dining hall. 

I'm certain that's what Mr Happe had in mind for me all those years ago! If you're planning your own golden future, you could do a whole lot worse than to talk to Danny or Terry.   They didn't ask me for this plug, but the way I figure, if they take care of my friends like they take care of me, we'll all wind up in the "cool" old folks home someday and we'll talk about the good old days.  Keith Richards will be there too, long after we're gone.

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