Brandon and I had just finished a nice lunch and were walking out of the restaurant.
“What else should we be doing?” he asked. “It’s…I mean with my sister.”
It gave me pause since he’d never confided in me about his sister before, who had special needs
Brandon and I had worked together for 15 years. I saw him get started in finance, grow as an advisor and a person, and meet the girl of his dreams. He even had the engagement ring delivered to the office.
“Hey, Dicker – check this out!” he yelled over with a big smile. “’Think she’ll say yes?”
Soon, he was happily married with four children.
And yet, we never discussed his special needs sister. He certainly never talked to me about his parents’ plans, and how to care for her once they were gone or unable. How would he deal with her needs and live up to his parents’ wishes?
Too often, he admitted, he shared his brother-in-law’s view, “Just tell your folks what they want to hear. When they’re gone it will be your decision, anyway.”
Until now. Right there, on the way out of the restaurant after we’d chatted through our entire meal, he finally opened up to me.
“What else should we be doing?” he asked. “To get ready and make sure she’s OK?”
“Brandon, what do you want to do?” I asked. “Do you want to be a caregiver for your sister? Do you want to honor your parents and do what they expect?”
Very heady questions for sure. But ones that need to be asked and addressed honestly and openly.
It certainly wasn’t for me to provide answers or sway his decision one direction or another, but I also could sympathize with Brandon, not just empathize.
My cousin, Tina, is in her 70’s and she is special needs. She’s lived in a home for many years. She’s my grandfather’s brother’s daughter. When it comes to taking care of her, my grandfather’s son is incapable of being any use. My uncle Morrie, who has been gone for many years, relied on his trust and THE trust to establish a plan for her.
Thankfully, his plan has been executed to perfection, first by his brother and then by his brothers’ children – my mother and aunts.
Tina has never wanted for anything and has been able to live a pretty nice life over the past 30 years. I often look at my family in awe with all they’ve done for her. I have doubts if I would be up to the task.
“Brandon, what do you really want to do?” I asked again as we waited for the valet. “It is most definitely not your responsibility. You have a choice. And that choice starts with you sitting down with your parents and understanding what is what. Then, you can move on from there with information, not just speculation.”
Planning for the future is tough, especially when it’s not just about you, and when family and emotions are involved.
But we are advisors, so, sometimes, the best thing we can do is to just advise. ‘Don’t fear what the response may be, just give your soundest advice and be your client’s best resource.
Be what they truly need, and, above else, always be there to listen.