On April 21, the Vicksburg Post published a short obituary for Clarence M. Triplett, a Korean War veteran, great-grandfather and former client of John Merrell’s Amada Senior Care office in Jackson, Mississippi. Mr. Triplett had passed away at the age of 83 on April 19, 2017. He is survived by his wife Warrene, two brothers, one son, two grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.
The final lines of Mr. Triplett’s obituary said, “The family would like to extend their many thanks to Marissa, his caregiver, from Amada Senior Care and St. Joseph Hospice and their staff for taking such good care of Clarence during his lengthy illness.”
Upon discovery of this obituary’s mention of Amada Senior Care, Amada Franchise’s Michelle Mendoza interviewed John Merrell to learn the entire story of his experience with the Triplett family, and why they were so grateful for Marissa’s help. John shared the following with Michelle in his characteristic Mississippi accent.
I was there. I was in the middle of it. When Clarence passed away, I knew about everything that was going on the whole time. The caregiver, Marissa, and I – she’s my gal over in Vicksburg – have been following this closely. Clarence had Parkinson’s disease and his wife Warrene was his main caregiver. I met them in October of 2015.
It started with a phone call from a long-term care insurance company. One day this company gave me a phone call and said, “We need your help. This lady is mad and she needs your help too.” They were talking about Warrene, who was trying to activate Clarence’s long-term care insurance policy. It was so funny because I got over to her house and did not know what to expect. I walked into the house and she’s at the table with her best friend and they look at me like they’re about to shoot me!
I introduced myself and I said, “Number one: I don’t work for the insurance company. I work with them, but not for them.” That was my way of saying, “Please don’t be mad at me!”
We went through Clarence’s long-term care insurance policy methodically, like I was taught to. We went through the policy to understand what has already been done and what it was going to take to activate it.
So, we got the insurance company on the phone. I told the ladies how the phone call was going to go.
“We’re going to go through their process, tell them birth dates, social security, make sure you are authorized and verify that with power of attorney,” I told them. And then I broke the ice and said, “Now ladies, I guarantee you that two times during this whole conversation, they’re going to put us on hold and tell us, ‘Please hold for two minutes.’ Each time they do that, I want y’all to look at me and start laughing, ‘cause I am predicting the future.”
They looked at me like I was crazy. But I swear, it happened just like that. These two ladies were fed up with this company. They were upset. But then they put us on hold for two minutes and Warrene’s best friend Carolyn just ‘bout fell out of her chair. The second time, she goes, “This is great, John. You got ‘em!”
“Nah,” I said, “I just understand how to make it work, and I don’t want them to take away from you.”
That kind of broke down the barriers between us. We all left that day as friends. Afterward, they called me all the time to ask, “What do we have to do, John?” I just walked them through. We got the policy paying.
We found out that the policy only paid daily, not weekly. Clarence needed full-time care. Warrene already wasn’t resting at night. And she had been taking care of him for years. Our caregiver Marissa – an angel – came in and was very flexible. “I’ll come in at seven and leave at five,” she said. So we made sure that Miss Warrene got to sleep. Marissa did that over time, and she and Warrene worked together too. It was just perfect.
The neat thing about meeting Warrene and her best friend Carolyn was them introducing me to their entire church. Over at Emmanuel Baptist Church, I got to talk to the whole Thursday congregation. It was awesome. They have a buffet of all the really good, real Mississippi food. Everything, you got it. Whatever got hit on the road! I got to talk to everybody, and advised three or four people. I’m still caring for a lady from Emmanuel Baptist now, and another lady who had lost her husband. It’s all from the same insurance company. We have a very good sales representative there who sold these policies. The holders just didn’t understand them.
My conversation with the Tripletts on the day of Clarence’s passing was full of tears and happiness, because he was free. Warrene and Carolyn are still my best buds. I’ll take care of Warrene too and make sure her policy stays enforced. I just talked to the insurer today about that, because it’s so important for her to be taken care of.
Clarence’s Parkinson’s was pretty severe by the time I got there. I met him once, and I don’t think he knew who I was. He was all about Warrene, who’d help when he rang a bell. We broke that bell barrier when they let Marissa come in and take over.
I’ve known Marissa was awesome since the day I met her. She’s a doer. She just knows how to connect with families, she knows what they’re going through and she’s so accommodating. She was willing to change her family arrangements around to take care of Clarence and help Warrene with whatever she needed. She’s a single mother of two boys.
It’s tough not to do in this world, but I did not have to micromanage her. She took care of Clarence and Warrene just like I would have if I was over there. She let me know what was going on constantly. One day I want to make her my Vicksburg supervisor. She’s young but she’s so beyond her years. She grew up in Vicksburg and worked at several nursing homes, if I remember correctly.
I am not going to let her go. We’ll do whatever it takes. She’s already coming over to Jackson to take on some longer cases because she’s so good. Just a great person. Compassionate, caring and unafraid to do anything. She builds that trust, which is important too. She’s one of our best, no question.
To read the full obituary, click here.
“Policy Battles and an Angel: The Story Behind Clarence M. Triplett’s Obituary,” by Michelle Mendoza, Amada contributor.