Tuesday, September 11, 2012

It Will Not Happen to Me

When I was a senior in High School, I did not think that my father would die of a heart ailment at the age of 39. When I had my first son, I did not think he would die three months later of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. My wife and I could not believe that we had not one, not two, but three miscarriages. I never fathomed that my little brother would get killed in a car accident. Nor, did I ever imagine that my best friend would be murdered and my adoptive father, the only father that I ever knew would die in the same week. It all happened like it or not.

How does someone respond to such tragedies? Each person responds differently. As I grew older, I reached out to my aunts for pictures and stories about my father that I never knew. I met my other brother, Jon and my two sisters Tami and Kelly. We all shared something in common, albeit a tragedy.

When my son Reese was born, my wife and I had dreams not unlike any other parent for our newborn. Those dreams were shattered when Reese died. My wife and I stumbled into a group of bereaved parents that met ever so often. We ended up leading the group for a time. Every parent in there had lost their child, or in some cases children. I remember one lady who lost three boys in a fire. When I heard her story, I quit feeling sorry for myself. There is always someone worse off than you.

Once Reese died, we decided to try to have another child and we were blessed with our son Marshall. He is truly an amazing son. I am so proud of him.

My brother David lived on the same street as me. He had the best yard in the neighborhood. Hunting was his passion and he was a big boxing fan. Anytime there was a boxing match on television, he would have everyone over at his house to watch it. In 1978, he bought a Emerald Green Camaro. Over the years, he tinkered around with it and added some glass packs. Whenever he drove up our street, I always knew it was him. After he died, that Camaro sat in my mom's driveway for years. She could not bear to part with it. However, when my son Marshall turned 16 years old, I offered my mom a dollar for the Camaro. Her eyes lit up knowing that David's Camaro would stay in the family. Marshall and I worked on it for a time and brought it back to life. It still needs some work, but it is a beautiful car.

After the third miscarriage, my wife and I watched a little movie called "Rudy." We decided right then and there that we were not going to give up. Our child was going to be named Rudy if it was a boy and Rudi if it was a girl. We were blessed with our daughter Rudi. God takes care of you even in the most difficult circumstances. Rudi is proof positive of that fact.

My best friend, Mike Rowland was murdered when he was 39. His poor mother had already lost her daughter to a murder. She never imagined that she would lose a daughter and a son to murder. I still exchange Christmas cards with his mom. After Mike's death for a few years, we had a Circle of Friends golf tournament to raise money for the Arkansas Deaf and Blind School which was where his murdered sister Kelly went to school. Mike Rowland was the greatest. You will probably find at least a dozen other guys who will say that he was their best friend, too.

Recently, I read a book entitled Divine Alignment. It is a book about God's plan for us and something the author referred to as Godwinks. Godwinks are little things that happen that make you think of how God is working in your life. Little affirmations that he is there or your lost love ones are there watching out for you. http://books.simonandschuster.com/Divine-Alignment/SQuire-Rushnell/9781451648560

The other morning, I was milling around in my closet. I have a box of hats up on a high shelf in the closet. For some reason, I dropped the box and all the hats fell out. I quickly gathered all the hats and put them back in the box. I threw the box up on the high shelf, but it fell again and hats went everywhere. Once again, I piled them all back into the box and this time made sure that the box made the shelf. As I looked down on the floor, there was one hat laying there. It was a Michael Rowland Circle of Friends golf hat. I picked it up, smiled thinking of my friend and put it on the shelf by itself.

Later that day, my wife called me and told me that I got a card from Mike Rowland's mom saying she had moved to Dallas near her daughter. What are the odds, I thought to myself?

Later that night, a friend of mine called me from Arkansas. He was having a beer with a friend of Mike Rowland's. He handed the phone to the guy and we chatted for a moment. I told him that I had just received a card from Mike's mom that very day.

One of Mike's favorite sayings was "he was having a hay day" which meant he was having fun. I think on this day, he was having a hay day messing with me! Certainly, a Godwink in my direction.

My dad, Hillman died of cancer at the age of 57, the same week as Mike. I went to two funerals that week. Hillman was the funniest guy you would ever meet. He had all kinds of quips and sayings. When people would ask how he was doing he would say that he was "hitting the ground in high places and looking down on everyone else." This is what he is doing now in heaven. I know, because he accepted Jesus on the last weekend of his life. I witnessed it.

Last year, I did several seminars with people who had concerns about health issues as they aged or had loved ones with health issues. The smart ones came to see me and my attorney friend, R. Kellen Bryant. http://www.kellenbryantlaw.com/index.php. We were able to help several families with some much needed Elder Care Planning.

Sadly, most of the people that came to our seminars had the attitude that "It will not happen to me." These people simply did not want to face reality, or they thought that they could do better with another attorney or another financial advisor. I know for a fact some of them went to other financial advisers. Of course, if another financial advisor can shoot you down, then they will do it. The problem is that the families still needed the help that we offered. Their financial advisor had no clue about Elder Care Planning and Veteran's Benefits. In the aftermath, these families did not get the help that they so desperately needed. Their assets will evaporate as a result.

Another couple went to two different attorneys for a second and yet a third opinion. The third attorney told them to "go back and talk to Kellen Bryant. He was the best in town." This couple had been sold all kinds of garbage in their portfolio. Annuities and other loaded commission products, yet moving their accounts to me to help them out of the clutches of an unethical advisor was not in the cards.

When I interact with people like this, I often wonder what are they really searching for? Is it the cheapest financial advisor? The Right Financial Adviser was standing right in front of them, if they could have only noticed. The reason they did not notice was because their focus was on material things, instead of being focused on what truly matters.

Something that I know from experience is that it can happen to you. Will you do business with someone who has been there, understands what it means to lose a son, a brother, a best friend or a father, or will you settle for the cheapest financial advisor? Will you still be focused on material things that will not make you happy? Will you go with the financial advisor who is a smooth talker, takes your head off in commissions and puts you in products that are not liquid? For your sake, I truly hope not.

Perhaps, the next time you meet me in person, you can share some of your stories. I am a good listener, because it has happened to me.

Our firm tag line is... The Right Answer. The Right Financial Adviser. Think about those stories above, then you will know why.