Susan L. Combs is President of Combs & Company, a full-service insurance brokerage firm based in New York City. Susan started the company at twenty-six years old with a drive to “Do more, better.” This internal mantra has resulted in numerous successes and firsts, like being named the youngest National President in the over eighty-five-year history of Women in Insurance & Financial Services (WIFS) and the first female Broker of the Year winner for BenefitsPro.
Susan is “a Missouri girl in a New York world,” The lessons she learned during her Midwestern upbringing and two-plus decades in New York City are the basis of the book we discuss in this interview.
The insights contained in these pages come from family, friends, colleagues, and life in general. But the most important teachings are from her late father. His steady guidance in life set Susan’s foundation, and his passing inspired her new movement, Pancakes for Roger (www.PancakesForRoger.com).
When Susan’s not running her business or trying to help others through their challenges, you can find her flipping tires at her beloved CrossFit gym, supporting the Missouri Tigers, KC Chiefs, and Royals, or slaying the dragons that have come her way.
I'm excited to announce a new resource I'm very proud of. This guide outlines the four daily practices I discovered on my grief journey. These techniques have helped dozens of my clients. Get it free today.
GEMS- 4 Steps To Go From Grief To Joy
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Brian Smith 0:00
Close your eyes and imagine what are the things in life that causes the greatest pain, the things that bring us grief, or challenges, challenges designed to help us grow to ultimately become what we were always meant to be. We feel like we've been buried. But what if, like a seed we've been planted, and having been planted would grow to become a mighty tree. Now, open your eyes, open your eyes to this way of viewing life. Come with me as we explore your true, infinite, eternal nature. This is grief to growth. And I am your host, Brian Smith. Hey everybody, this is Brian back with another episode of grief to growth. And today I've got with me Susan combs. I'm gonna read her bio, and then we'll have a conversation like we always do. She's the president of combs and Company, a full service insurance brokerage firm based in New York City. She started the company when she was 26 years old with a drive to do more better. That's her internal mantra, and has resulted in numerous successes and first like being named youngest national president, and the over 85 year history of women in insurance and financial services, and the first female broker of the Year winner for benefits Pro. She's a Missouri girl in New York and in New York World, and it's a lesson she's learned during her Midwestern upbringing, and two plus decades in New York City that is the basis of her book. And the insights contained in these pages come from her family, her friends, her colleagues, and life in general. But the most important teachings are from her late father and the book is named after it was his steady gains in life that set Susan's Foundation. And it was his passing that inspired her new movement, pancakes for Roger, and her website is actually pancakes for roger.com. When she's not running your business to try and help others through their own challenges, you can find her flipping tires that are below the CrossFit gym, supporting the Missouri tigers, Kansas City Chiefs and Royals are slaying the dragons that have come away. So with that, I want to walk them to brief progress. Susan combs.
Susan Combs 2:07
Thank you so much for having me, Brian.
Brian Smith 2:09
Yeah, it's really great to have you here. You got quite a bio. You've had a lot of successes for an early in your career.
Susan Combs 2:16
Yeah, you know, I look all right on paper.
Brian Smith 2:22
So tell me about the let's start with your father. We'll start with the title of your book and the title of your website pancakes. Roger. So tell me about tell me about Roger.
Susan Combs 2:30
So, you know, my dad was a giant in my world. I mean, he was, he was an incredible man, he, he was a civilian world. He was a judge. But in the military world, he was a major general. But he was kind of he was a pillar in, in our community, you know, church board member, confidant, Joint Chiefs of Staff member, you know, husband, father, uncle, grandfather, and, but at the end of the day, he was just my dad. But he was a complete and total badass. I mean, he served our armed forces for 39 years and four months, serving in three different branches. He was a Marine Corps helicopter pilot. And then he ultimately passed Agent Orange related throat cancer that he was exposed to during his combat days in Vietnam. And he, he passed away, August 22, August 22 2018. So we're coming up on the four year anniversary of his passing. And he, you know, he was one of those guys, that was just good when nobody was watching, and made me want to just emulate my life after him. I mean, he's mentored a lot of people and I've gotten so many stories about him from people that either encountered him or encountered one of his lessons. And as a child, it's just so rewarding to get those those kinds of nuggets and, and tidbits from people that take the time to reach out to.
Brian Smith 3:50
Yeah, sounds like an incredible man. So what are the what are the title come from pancakes, Roger.
Susan Combs 3:56
So the title kind of came from, in a an encounter I had with my father, as you said, I live in New York City, and I have for over 20 years now. But I was very fortunate enough to have set up my company from the very beginning to be remote from the start. So my philosophy has always been if you have your computer and your phone, you should be able to work anywhere in the world. You know, I have a wonderful, beautiful office that I love, but it's nice to have that flexibility. And we have that flexibility long before COVID in the Zoom days. So I actually moved back to Missouri to help hear from my father when when he was kind of coming to the end of his life. And, you know, he was diagnosed with the Asian origin like cancer in 2008. And we had 10 relatively good years, and then he relapsed twice the last year of his life. So my father and I were very regimented people and Taipei's. My dad always said, we have two Type A's and two type B's in our family and he and I were the type base. And so he and I just had kind of a schedule going where I get up at 5am Every day I would check on him as long as he was good. I would go to the gym and come back from the gym check on him again. As long as he was still good, then I would go shower, get ready for the day and then come down and then help him get his two feeding to see. That's how he got his nutrition and get him settled in his recliner for the rest of the day. And I would just literally sit on the floor at the coffee table in my childhood home working all day. And then if he needed something I would help him. But one morning, he beat me to the table. And I was coming down from from showering and I went to his hospital bed because he was on hospice. And we were fortunate enough to have a great long term care policy where he could, we could have that coverage at home. So he could be around the things he loved in the people he loved. When he is his time was was limited. And
he wasn't at his hospital bed and around the corner. And he was in the kitchen and he had his placemat and there was the place setting and he was getting all set up. And I looked at him. I said, Dad, what are you doing, and he's working on pancakes for breakfast. And it just it broke my heart. I mean, if you've I'm sure you've had people that listen to this show that have experienced people with feeding tubes, and my dad also was on oxygen full time too. And all the nutrition has to go through the feeding tube. And so pancakes is just a request that can't get fulfilled. And I looked at him I said, Oh, Dad, I said there's nothing in this world that I want to give you then then pancakes, but you know, we're on hospice, you have a DNR and if you choke, we're done here. I just don't think we're quite ready to be done. And he looked at me said, Oh, yes, I can. Matt said I could hit maths, my brother and he's a nurse, and he wasn't there that morning. So I knew we were dealing with some confusion from his oxygen level getting too low. So I looked at him, I said, Well, let me see what I can do. And I went and took his feeding tube formula. He did it up for 14 seconds. The general never wanted 13 or 15. It had to be 14. And I brought it back over to the table and I sit down the picture on a table and he said, What's that? And I said, Well, that's your syrup. And he looked at me and his oxygen levels have started kind of rallying around. And he kind of smiled and he said, Okay, and so a few short weeks later, he passed away. And I came back to New York. And I took one day off of work. And my husband said to me, he's like, why don't we go have some pancakes for your dad. And so that's I was actually looking on social media this morning trying to see when that first picture of the pancakes or Roger was taken, it was on August 26. And so my husband took a picture of me enjoy pancakes, I relayed the story and saying, you know, it's just the little things in life that really can make such a big impact. And our lives can all change in a blink of an eye. And things like enjoying stack of pancakes can just be taken away from us. So if you're so inclined, go have some pancakes for Roger. And remember to appreciate all the little things in your life. So that's kind of the premise, but then it really kind of turned into a movement where every people started having pancakes all over the world and having pancakes and and saying, you know, go have some pancakes or Roger and then His birthday was February 22. So then what we started doing is on the month of February, every pancake loving picture we get with people using the hashtag pancakes Roger, my company makes a donation to the veterans Clinic at the University of Missouri law school. So they provide free legal services for veterans and their families navigating the VA claims and appeals process. So this past year, it just really exploded. We had all 50 states, we got 18 countries. And then the book came out on his birthday, which was to 20 to 22 this year. So if you believe in numerology, that's an angel number. And so that's kind of a cool, cool coincidence, if you will. So, so that's kind of how it got going. And then the slaying dragons part I fought for that. I was like, See, I woke up at 2am and I was because we were thinking pancakes, Suraj or mentorship guide for life. And then I woke up at 2am and I was like, mentorship guide for slaying dragons. And my team was like, I don't know if Susan I don't I don't know. And I said you don't know me yet. You don't know me really? Well, as soon as you know me, you know, this is right. And so I started testing the full title out on some friends and my girlfriend Kat she really a story to me about when she was graduating high school, and the superintendent was speaking and we're saying you know, I know you guys want to go out and spread your wings and slay some dragons but why don't we try lizards to start and she said I'm sitting there as an 18 year old kid saying I'm gonna go fucking slay a dragon. I'm not gonna slay a stupid lizard and so when she told me that story, I was like that's gotta be it. That's gotta be it. So and that's I mean in all the dragon signifies is just an obstacle in your life. I mean, all of us have trials and tribulations all of us have goals that we set that we want to achieve a lot of things a lot of us have things that we've overcome. Um, you know, we can have different past experiences with you know, with abuse or just with just a lofty things that we want to achieve whether it's graduating college, getting a master's degree, getting a different designation, and so those are just dragons that we all kind of slay along the way.
Brian Smith 9:58
Yeah. Love, love, love that. Title I love the story behind behind the title. Tell me about growing up with your father. What was that? Like?
Susan Combs 10:06
Yeah, so I graduate air I was. So I grew up in a town of 986 people in the northwest corner, Missouri, where I grew up. Far, far different than New York City with what I think we have eight and a half million people now here. But I grew up in a small farming community. I grew up six miles away from my family's farms that we still manage. And my dad was literally born on the farm. And even though, you know, my father had seen the world and he really exposed us to the world. I mean, my mother was also a travel agent, and my dad traveled a lot for work with military, and they, which they let us know that the world was bigger than our backyard. But if we wanted to come back to our backyard at any given time, there was no shame in that. So I think my dad had hopes and dreams of me, you know, finding a boy in King City, Missouri and settling down and buying a yellow house with a porch swing and buying some horses. And I did pretty much the opposite. So, but you know, my dad, and I always had we, we would always say, give me the Reader's Digest version. So we always said that my dad and I could achieve in a 10 minute conversation where people could do with three weeks. So we just kind of got to the point, we had our heads in a game, and we just communicated really, really well. So when it came time to helping him with his care, and when he was on hospice, he kind of gravitated to me, not that the other members of my family weren't so pivotal in his journey there. But just our thought process was very, very similar. So I just spoke to him how I'd want somebody to speak to me, and I treat him like a person. And my brother, Matt, that is an amazing nurse. He was oncology nurse for a number of years. And now he's actually a hospice nurse, and a hospital case manager. But for him with his training, he could compartmentalize what we were doing and helping my dad and so He treated Him more like a patient. And you know, that's an all your own protection mechanism. Because based upon your training and things like that, neither one's right or wrong, but it just it's different. So I think for us as a family, it was very much a blended, different strategies on caretaking. And that's what really worked for us too.
Brian Smith 12:12
Wow. Wow. That's, that's, that's amazing. So tell me about you know, you talk about slaying dragons in the book title. I know, you have some advice for women. So what what type of advice do you have? Warren comes to slaying dragons?
Susan Combs 12:23
Oh, you know, it really depends on the day and depends on the subject matter. But some of the the biggest lessons, I think one of the best lessons I tell people all the time is drive the car. So that was a big lesson that my dad passed along to all of us. I have two older brothers. And when you're learning how to drive, I mean, I know you're from the Midwest too. And so I don't know if you grew up on a farm. But when you grew up around the farm, a lot of times were driving at a much younger age than city kids. So you know, we're driving it, I mean, a hell, I think my dad was driving it like six or seven. And, you know, I think first time I drove I was probably about 10. And so you know, might just be for farm tours or different things like that. But then when it comes to highway driving, you know, we wait until it's legal because like I said, my dad was a judge in the county, so we follow the rules on that. But my dad, he used to send you the speedometer in his pants, like he could just, he just knew he anticipated. He knew he can name within two miles an hour how fast you were going, which is a blessing and a curse. And especially when you miss curfew one night because you're hurrying home. And then we go for a drive. And he says, Okay, let's make sure your speedometer is really off, which thank God it was and I didn't get in trouble. But when it came to learning how to drive, he would literally jerk the steering wheel, and we'd go off the road. And he would always have this cadence in his voice, just drive the car, drive the car, drive the car, because he used to say you could be the greatest driver in the world, but you have to anticipate the people around you. And growing up in a rural area where I did and also like we're, you know, you're probably from Ohio, we have a lot of Amish. And so it's like you could pop over that hill. And there could be a horse and buggy that you're not anticipating there could be farm equipment, there could be livestock, there could be somebody that's just not paying attention. And so my dad used to say you just have to keep your head about you and just remember to drive the car. So this lesson kind of translated do a lot of things in my life when, you know, I was looking at you know, doing a big project and sometimes it feels so overwhelming that Oh, I just it's too much I can't figure it out. But if you just remember to drive the car, break it down into bite sized nuggets that you can kind of get through and just take step one, then go to step two, then go to step three, then it just reminds you to kind of keep you know put first things first and not get so overwhelmed with things so that's probably one of the that's one of the biggest lessons that I pass along to a lot of people but there's there's countless others I mean, the book is separated into four sections, self love, family and career. So it kind of has different lessons for different areas. So whatever your you're needing at the time you can kind of you know pick and play type of thing.
Brian Smith 14:57
You say self love, family, family and career Okay, so let's go through each of those. So tell me, what do you say about self?
Susan Combs 15:04
Well, so self, I mean, drive the car really kind of comes back to self and kind of looking at things. I mean, one of the things I would say, on on love, that's kind of my, my next session, I think a lot of times with love, especially with it, I guess I shouldn't just say, especially with women, but I think sometimes think about all the things that we're surrounded by, like the social media, the the the rom coms, like the Hallmark movies like that, we have such grandiose ideas about how a relationship can be. And I think it's, it's not realistic. And I have a wonderful husband, I mean, I had a starter husband, he was great, in his own way. But he wasn't my forever guy. But my husband that I'm with now we've been together 18 years, and he just senses who I am. And, and I think that a lot of times people settle in relationships, because they don't really know what a good relationship is, until you're in it. So I think a lot of times people just settle, not realizing that there's there gonna be more to offer. And I think a lot of times when it comes to picking somebody, I actually was in Napa, speaking at a women's event last month, and I was sharing about how, you know, my mother in law, one of the pieces of advice she gave me was like, every trash can, has a lid. And you know, basically meaning there's somebody for everybody. And I think sometimes we get stuck in the minutiae of there's one true soulmate. And I just don't believe that I believe that there's multiple people that would be very compatible with each of us, and that we would live like a very happy life. So you know, I talked about my husband and that, yeah, do I believe he's my soulmate? Is he my family? Is he my best friend? Yeah, absolutely. But I could find another one tomorrow. And that's not being like braggadocious or arrogant. It's just saying that I know my worth. And I think a lot of times, especially with women, younger women that get married early on, they don't really know themselves. And they don't, they don't know what their worth is. And I share a lot that one of the best things ever happened to my husband and I is we had our first fight about 18 months in and we both behave poorly. Like he took all of his stuff. And he left I laid on the floor, and I cried. And because we just we were out of our element, and we had never had a fight 18 months in. And then I got on a New York City bus and I was looking out the window. And it finally clicked for me. And it was I, I want him but I don't need him. And that's a much different place to be. And it's a much better place to be because then I finally figured out what my worth was, and what I brought to the table. And I think sometimes mean, I got married the first time at 23. That's far different than the person I married at 32. And I just really got a chance to know myself. So I even tell my little cousins, like they're not allowed to get married until they're 26 is what I always tell them, because I'm like, You need to be able to be on your own two feet. And I think if you go from, say college and your parents parallels, so to speak, and then you go right into a relationship or a long term relationship, you might not get that chance, again to really figure out who you are. And then you hear about the cases where people are been married 2025 30 years, and they get a divorce, just because they didn't realize who they were, or like they they loved each other when the kids were around. But now when the kids are gone, then they're like, Well, I don't I don't know if I really like you anymore. So it's it's just kind of understanding those things. So that's kind of a lesson I would say, on love. In terms of career. One of the best lessons I think my dad told me was, it's important for you to be understood, but more important for you not to be misunderstood. And that's been something that I mean, I work as an expert witness a lot on real high end medical malpractice and litigation for trip and fall and worker's comp and things like that. And that has saved me so much. Because it's putting things into layman's terms, getting people to understand because a lot of times I think we can have not so much our ego, but maybe it's an insecurity where we feel like we need to be, you know, throwing out these big huge words so that people think we're smart. And I think a lot of times if you use simple language so that people can understand you, you don't talk in acronyms. You don't talk in jargon, then you don't have to worry about somebody saying, Oh, I really didn't understand that. That's what you meant. I thought you meant something else. So that's been a lesson in terms of career. That has been really important to me. And then I would say, if I had to pick one of the family ones a would probably come from my brother Matt. My brother Matt. He's the one in the middle. Our oldest brother David is from our father's first marriage. And one time when I was home for Christmas, Matt said, if we weren't born siblings, we'd never be friends. And you know, I know you made that face and Don't make that face because a lot of times you're like, oh, that's me and no, but it's not. It's like recognizing the differences because my brothers and I, man if you met a separate Wait, you mean like how the hell are they siblings? I mean, we're just so so different. I mean, my brother David is like the IT guy. So any computer related thing we, you know, we go to him on, he tells jokes that are science based. And I'm sitting there saying, I'm glad I'm pretty because I don't help know what the hell he's talking about. And then my man, my brother, Matt is is the nurse. He's the medical guru. So anytime we need to have like a medical thing, he's crazy, empathetic, he's really good at that I'm, I try to be empathetic, I'm more sympathetic. But I feel like I can't truly be empathetic unless I've been in, in those shoes. And but Matt's very, very good on that stuff. So when it came to the medical stuff for my dad, he would just really take the time. And he and I spent some time together, we were helping our brother David out just a few weeks ago, and I got to hear him on the phone with one of his hospice patients wives. And just he and he's wicked funny, he's wicked funny, and just the banter he was having with her and just giving her some real reprieve from caregiving for just a few minutes, and it was just beautiful to be able to witness that he has no idea like, you probably listen to this and be like, Oh, well, that's kind of cool. But, and then I'm kind of, you know, I was kind of known as the youngest oldest. So I always kind of had my stuff together. And I'm kind of the fixer, the family, I'm the one if you want to know what dad would have thought about a situation, like you kind of come to me on it. Now. So my role has really shifted quite a bit within the family. But we're just also so different. But I think that sometimes, when you take a step back, and you understand how each person kind of thinks, those can be little things that just grate on you, as a kid, they can even grate on you as an adult. But if you can take like a 30,000 foot view, and really kind of look at what we're all good at, then we can tap each other in when it's appropriate. And it just makes it a lot easier. Because I know that I can't handle everything I know, I'm not good at everything. But then I know like, for example, with Matt and my mother, you know, she's struggling with like a mental health thing, or, you know, she's been depressed about our dad being gone. I'm not good at that. I'm so not good at that. And Matt is great on that. And so he I'm like, that's your that's your lane, you handle that I can handle the farm, I can handle the finances, you handle mom and the medical stuff. He's like, Okay, fine. So it just it's a way to appreciate each other's talents, and focusing on that type of stuff. So that's really, I guess, my biggest family lesson too.
Brian Smith 22:28
Yeah, I think that's great. And I'm not sure what face you saw me making. But no, I can definitely relate to that. I think the family dynamics are interesting. And as we're going through it, I think that a kind of a believer of birth order. I know that's kind of been discredited as far as our personalities. And I think you're kind of like the opposite of that. Because you like what you said the youngest oldest? Because you've got kind of the older sibling kind of energy.
Susan Combs 22:56
Yeah. Well, and I think that comes to like, I mean, like you said, I mean, birth order can be but it's like nature versus nurture, right? I think. So my brother man had cancer when we were kids. And he he's actually the longest surviving male bone marrow transplant out at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and the model. Yeah. And so I think it probably would have been maybe the normal birth order in our family. But that experience where, you know, my, my parents, and my brother basically moved to Memphis for three years, and I stayed back in Missouri. And so I was, you know, my parents worked out a rotation eventually, and then my grandmother was caring for me quite a bit. So I think that's really what kind of shifted a lot of the things in our family. And then I've just always been a driven kid. I mean, my parents used to always say that I put so much more pressure on me than they ever did. I mean, my dad used to always laugh and tell a story that even when I was six years old, if I mean, I was wearing glasses at six years old to my, my dad there, I would have an eye appointment. And I would ask my dad, okay, what time do we have to what time so important? And he would say, you know, it's 930. So at six years old, I would set my own alarm, I would get myself up, I would get ready myself, I'd get myself breakfast, and then I would be sitting by the door. 15 minutes before I knew we had to leave, because it was just like, that's, that was the kid I was. So I was, you know, they kind of called me an easy keeper, which I do talk about in the book that if you have any of those kids, if there's parents that have those easy keeper kids, you got to check on those kids. Because I think a lot of times, they just think, oh, I don't have to worry about that one. That was good. But then that one can be the one that internalizes a lot of things and might have some issues later on in life that that you didn't expect.
Brian Smith 24:46
Yeah. So that's interesting. That brings me to because one of the lessons in your process or you sent me some some lessons, one of the lessons you learned was nobody gets anywhere alone. And you're obviously a very driven person. It's done a lot of incredible thing. So how does nobody gets anywhere alone? How does that play in your life?
Susan Combs 25:05
I mean, I've had tremendous mentors. And, and so that was one of the things like when, when I decided to write the book, the book, when I publicly speak, I've always ended with unsolicited advice. And they've been little little quotes that I've gotten from people throughout my life. And so I always thought it'd be cool for a premise of a book to have each phobia chapter give more information on that person, and then like how to plug and play that information. So the book was never supposed to be almost entirely about my dad. But then my dad took over the book, like the general did in so, but that's why it's mattered with other people. But I realized that I've been blessed enough to have some great mentors, I had a great father, a great family, but not everybody does. And so that's one of the things I talked about in the introduction for the book that like, if you don't have a mentor, let this book, be your mentor until you get one. And because I think when there's a lot of us that feel like, Hey, we're self made, we're self made. And yes, that's true to a certain point. But there's always people that helped you along the way, you know, whether it was a parent, whether it was a teacher, whether it was somebody that that you had shared experience, I mean, I think in people think of like a mentor mentee type of relationship. But I think one of the most valuable relationships you can have are those peer to peer mentors, that are people that are in the same industry or similar industry that you're in that you have that kind of shared connection, but then it's more of a, you know, an outside view, but they they know you very, very well. So I have two friends, Julie and Chris, that are big time peer to peer mentors for me. But they not only peer to peer mentor me with business, but also with life. So they they know my family. I mean, they showed up for me, my father was buried at Arlington, in September 2019. They came to the service, they've met my family, and they've been integrated into the family. And so I think that that's so important to surround yourself by the right people and to have the right tribe. Because it's almost like an insurance policy. I mean, you talked about that's my background. You gotta get that in place before you need it. Because you can't expect people to come and save you and help you out when you haven't built that social capital in that relationship. So that you can can, you know, take a deposit, you know, or take a withdrawal from that account when you need it type of thing.
Brian Smith 27:25
Yeah, I think that's really a great, I think it's great. You put that in the book, because I could see, I would imagine people look at you and think, Oh, she's she's independent, she can do it on her own.
Susan Combs 27:36
Yeah, but see, I have to remind people that always because I remember, um, our father hadn't passed yet. And I was back in Missouri. And I had a big meltdown with my brother, man, I remember I was up in my bedroom, in my old bedroom from where I grew up. And I just lost it. And I was just like, and I remember saying to him, I was like, you know, you guys think I have this cake life. And that I but I've worked really, really hard for what I have, you know, not and I'm not even just talking about like, money and treasures. I'm talking about mentally, and working on myself and doing those things. And I said, you can ask me how I am to. I was like, I don't need to be saving everybody I need. I need somebody to check in on me from time to time. And that, I think, to finally have a voice and finally say that was so big, because a lot of times I always envision I'm like a frickin plate spinner, right? And so you're going from one plate to another and you're like, oh my god, something's gonna fall somes gonna, someone's gonna fall, and then it all goes to shit. And then if you, you need to like, then you have to stop. You got to drive the car and just start over. Right? So. But, but being able to speak up for yourself an advocate for yourself, I think is really, really important. And it's shifted our relationships on I mean, I've really seen it shifts. My brother Matt and I in the past, was a year or two, because he calls me just to be like, and my first my first reaction. I mean, he called me last Sunday, and the first thing I said was, is everything okay? You know, I mean, because isn't that stupid? We're so used to frickin texting and emailing that if somebody actually calls you, you're like, Oh, my God, what? What's wrong? What's wrong with the girls? What's wrong with your wife? What's going on? And he was like, I was just calling to check on you making sure you're okay. And I was like, oh, yeah, thanks. But I think it's, you've also I think, have to say what you need and say what you want. I mean, like my husband said, a long time ago, he was like, No Man's ever going to, to volunteer for manual labor. But if you ask them to do stuff, you know, around the house or do whatever, they'll do it, but he was like, they can't read your mind. So I've always tried to remember that because I think so many times people get so pissed off and so frustrated. And then when you back up and say did you tell them you felt that way? Did you ask for help? They're like Well, no, they should just know. It's like, well, that doesn't work that way people aren't mind reader's. So it's just kind of like, I don't know, I feel like some of the parts of this book are just life one on one that I've, I've learned that I just forget that not everybody gets these lessons. So I think somebody told me a long time ago, if you get good advice, it's your it's your responsibility to share with somebody else. So that's what I tried to do with this book. Well, I
Brian Smith 30:23
wish I could say it louder. My wife is upstairs right now. We've been together for 35 years. And she still thinks I can read her mind. Well, this is what this is what I would do, this is how I would do it. If this I'm like, Well, that's good. You still have to communicate what you need. So yeah, I think that's, that's very valuable. You know, it's a lesson for all of us. And also the lesson that sometimes people look at people that are high achievers like yourself, and people who seem to be self made, which you've acknowledged that none of us are, but they say, well, she could she could do it, she's not going to be the one to break down. And we all we all need help sometimes. So I think it's really good that you put that in the book to remind, remind people that, and it's great that you know, you send your relationship with Matt has changed after your father's passing. That happens a lot, you know, especially when you're in your father, so close. And then unfortunately, a lot of times it goes the other way. So it's great that you guys are able to draw closer from that.
Susan Combs 31:23
Well, and even. And like I shared before that, you know, my brother had cancer, we're Americans. And so I was 10 when he was diagnosed, and he was 13. So there's a lot of like, Dad skills, one of one that I think a lot of men or boys learn from their fathers from 13 to 16. And my brother had a 16% chance of survival. And so we were focused on his health and it wasn't like life skills. So when it came to like doing projects, like at the house or doing things, I was my dad's helper, because my dad always said, I always had my head in the game, because he would go to ask me for a hammer, and I was standing there with one because I anticipated that that's what he needed. And, and I've never, I've never said this to Matt. So I hope he does, soon, but, um, but I remember when, um, you know, after my dad had relapsed once, but he was okay, still. And my brother needed a light fixture changed out. And my dad says, Well, I'm just gonna go and do it. And I said, Dad, use this as a teachable moment. Because, you know, I said, and he was just like, well, he's like, sometimes it's just quicker and easier. I was like, I know, I was like, if you do it yourself, you know, it's done, right? But I was just like, who cares if it takes twice as long? Spend the time and just talking through it? Because I said, Dad, you gotta remember, he wasn't around to learn some of these things that I learned because of just the circumstances. So sometimes I think you, and I'm so guilty of that, though. I mean, I'm guilty of that with work. I'm guilty of that. Well, if I do it, I know what's going to be done. Right. And so, but I can, since I'm like that, I can also see it in other people. And so it was it was good that I was able to suggest that to my dad. And then they did that project together. So it's it's nice that she can still always kind of be learning, even if you're in your later years, too. So
Brian Smith 33:23
yeah, exactly. And we all we all have different skills and learn differently. I'm so grateful for YouTube now. Because my father was not the kind of person that taught me any of that kind of stuff. He never even had a decent toolbox, you know, and I grew up and my father would hire everything out. But now I get on YouTube, and I look it up. So yeah, we don't we don't all get those lessons, you know,
Susan Combs 33:44
now. Yeah, I know, my husband's from Philly. And he's a city boy. And so. And that's one of the things I talked about in the book, too, is I was raised in a family, why hire somebody to do something when you can do it yourself. And my husband was raised in a family. Why? Why do it yourself, you can hire somebody to do something. And so neither one's right nor wrong. But it's just you have to appreciate those differences and understand it. So and you have to be willing to fall on your sword from time to time. And, you know, my husband knows like, he's not allowed to touch my power tools and, you know, something that needs to be done, even at his parents house, like I'm the one that's supposed to supervise because it will get screwed up.
Brian Smith 34:22
Yeah, that's that's really, you know, it's interesting that you said we're out there, the nature versus nurture thing, I think is fascinating. That's why you know, we have two children, one of our daughter passed away, but I think everybody should have enough you're gonna have children need to have more than one because otherwise you think like you created them. And then when you have more than one, you see how different they are, like you talked about when you said again, you wouldn't be maybe friends with your siblings, if you weren't siblings. My siblings and I are very different, you know, raised by the same people and you know, in the same house and everything, but we're, we're different because we're born different. Absolutely, absolutely. So I want to talk about some more You're saying you've got some great ones. I don't know if it's because you're from Missouri or what, but don't let your alligator mouth overload your tadpole behind us and go one. Yeah,
Susan Combs 35:09
that's my mother.
Brian Smith 35:11
Sounds like a turkey. Yeah, it sounds like Kentucky to me. My wife's from Kentucky. Yeah. So
Susan Combs 35:16
my mother is from outside Chicago. She was born in Champaign, Illinois. Her father was a paratrooper in World War Two. And then he was an educator, and he was superintendent of schools, and then eventually became the Navy's education specialists in Washington, DC, my grandma, my mother graduated high school in Washington, DC. And, and so all that means is don't get too big for your britches. I mean, cuz sometimes, I mean, we can just, we can shoot our mouths off, right? We can just like not think about the consequences, we can not think about how it's going to impact others. And we just, you know, we just shoot our mouths off. So that man, I heard that on a weekly basis growing up, so that was that was definitely going to credit that credit that to my mother.
Brian Smith 36:03
Yeah. What about no step for a stepper? So I actually don't know
Susan Combs 36:07
if you can see it, I have that tattooed on my my wrist here. That was something my father told me constantly. So what that means is, it's a marine thing. So a lot of times people are like, I don't get it. I don't get it. But it's just basically like, you know, think it's no step for a stepper. So my dad used to say it, and it was like when I would be discouraged. So I would, oh, I'd have to read a book for school, or I'd have to, you know, study for this test. So I'm just like, Oh, Dad, I just don't think I have any. He's like, ah, Suze, you got this No, stepper, stepper. And so, you know, it was just a way to just kind of encourage myself to move on. And so I got the tattoo year after he passed. And because I just needed a little reminder for myself that no matter how things kind of changed along the way, and how things just just seem too big that the I have it within me to achieve it. So that's, that's what that means. And that's one of my favorite ones.
Brian Smith 37:04
Yeah, it Well, it sounds like it's someone to drive the car. It's like breaking things down into into manageable steps, which is, I think, really, really important. Because otherwise we get overwhelmed sometimes by absolutely the largest things in front of us. So you do you tell your readers to navigate the three facets of life? What does that mean?
Susan Combs 37:22
That's a good one. So that when I get a lot of people that ask me about that, so I don't even remember. I think okay, so I graduated college in 2001. And that was a stellar job market to pre 911. It was a stellar job, Margaret, so graduated, and I had eight job offers. And so my dad brought me to New York, we rented a car, and we went to all the different locations that I had job offers at in Connecticut and Massachusetts, and in New York. And during that trip, you know, we were just, we were just talking about life in general. And so he used to tell me, he's like, there's three facets to your life, there's the person that you're with, there's the thing that you do. And there's, you know, the place that you live. And he's like, if you are happy with three out of three, you're living a golden life. But if you're happy with two out of the three, still not so bad. But if you're happy with one, or none, only, you are the one that can get off your ass and do something about it. So you know, it's I've been very fortunate, and, you know, my husband's wonderful. And so, you know, you know, the person I'm with, I think relationships, the the person you choose to be with, I think can make you better or worse. And I think that they can really enhance who you are as a person and a Hanson it can be your biggest cheerleader, or they can just be the biggest person that tears you down. So you know, I hit it out of the park with that one thing that I do for a living, you know, I'm I own insurance brokers, I do expert witnessing, I do public speaking, and I'm an author. And so there's a lot of moving parts there. But that's what I like about it. Because it's just like, it's interesting. If I get bored with one thing, then the other thing is going on. And so it's kind of cool. So that's, that's, that's good thing for me. And then I've lived in New York for over 20 years. Do I think New York is forever? I mean, my husband would leave tomorrow. And I'm not ready yet. But it's just like, but New York is just a place that I've thrived. I think New York can be an excellent place for women, especially if you're a woman in business, because there's no there's not Hey, honey, what are you trying to sell me or people that are so nice to you, they want you to keep coming back because they don't want to hurt your feelings even though they're never gonna buy what you're selling. So New York is very good for that. And so those are like kind of the three things that I always try to remember to line up so if something doesn't feel right or if I'm like, kind of irritable and discontent I try to think through like, okay, like if I checked all these boxes, there's something going on here that that I need to kind of calibrate and adjust to and see if I can, you know, make things a little happier. But so those are those have been the three kind of like facets of life or three pillars of life that I always kind of
Brian Smith 40:07
reference. Interesting. Yeah, it's interesting. So I'm, I'm really curious about this, you said see the signs. That's one of your lessons in the book. So what do you mean by that?
Susan Combs 40:17
I'm a big believer in signs. I mean, I know it's kind of what we're not everybody well, but you know, when my, when my dad passed, I was shattered. I mean, I'm still shaking. And but I had friends that were, that kind of taught me that people that have paths, they're just without our each. And that you can still have some sort of relationship there if you're open to it. So there's this book called, signs The Secret Life of the universe, or a secret secret language of the universe by Laurel and Jackson. Somebody gifted me that book. On the one year anniversary of my father passing, and Laureline is, she's a medium. And that's out in Long Island. She works with a lot of families that have have lost children and things like that, and helping them understand. And so I was somebody that always write a lot. And but then after my father passed, I don't know if you experienced this when when you lost your daughter, but I mean, I just couldn't focus. I couldn't focus on reading a book, I would try. And I read a paragraph and I read it 10 times. And then I was like, Screw it. I know, I'm done. I can't do this for you. It's really common. Yeah. And so that was the first book that I was able to read, after my father passed, and it taught me how to, like, ask for signs from him. And then I would get them. And it's just like getting, you know, a big hug, to be honest. And so, you know, I have signs that I've established with my dad, sunflowers are a huge one. And I get those, man, I get those a lot. And helicopters are another one. But then I have some real kind of, like, kind of quirky, different ones. But, you know, and I, and I share that with a lot of people that lose somebody, because I just think that there's comfort in it if people are open. So I'm a prime example somebody I that I that I know, through, you know, Missouri or whatever, lost their mother a couple of weeks ago, and I reached out to them, and I said, you know, I and because I always reach out privately, I don't, I don't like doing that. Somebody puts a post on Facebook, and he's like, Oh, I'm so sorry. and everything like that. Like, I just feel like it's, I don't know, it's canned, right? So I try to reach out privately in and say, you know, look, look for the signs. And, and I make suggestions. And I don't know if it's like I'm, you know, I don't think I have that ability or anything like that to speak for other people. But But I was taught certain things are good for signs because they have a high kinetic energy, like hummingbirds and dragonflies and cardinals are big, you know, hi, you know, first sign issues with technology. So like, if you're on your cell phone, and there's like a click, click, click, click, just pay attention. And so, this this week, I was actually I talked to my dad a lot when I walked to the gym, in my head. And I was talking to my dad, and I was just kind of reviewing some of the signs and I, I said to my, you know, I said to dad, I was just like, well, you know, I said, it's been a rough week, I need a sign. I need a big sign. You may be excited. Well, I know you can do it. And so I left the gym, and I was walking home. And in Queens, we don't really have dragonflies much around here. But I got a dragonfly on the one year anniversary of my father's passing. And so this dragonfly found me on on Tuesday, and I was walking and the dragonfly walked halfway home with me. And I was like, ah, Hey, Dad, what's up? And so it's just I don't know, I mean, some people probably listen this and be like, Oh, she's off for your frickin rocker or whatever. But it's just, I feel like, I mean, my husband doesn't believe in it. But he still points out the things to me. So like if he's, if he's gone for he's a nationally ranked Spartan racer. And if he's gone for a race, and he sees a field of sunflowers, he'll take a picture and send it to me. So I just try to I just think those are kind of cool things and being open to those things. I mean, I was in the Austin airport.
It was my first work trip after my dad passed. And it was in my father passed away in August, and this was in early October, and I was man, I was tender. And I walked out of the bathroom and there was this picture. And I've never really had art speak to me. Not you know, I just never, I don't know, I move too fast to appreciate things. But I just stopped me and there was something that just pulled me into this and I'm like looking at this and I'm like And I tear up and I just have such a visceral reaction to it like just an emotional response and I I took a picture of it and I was like, I gotta have this. And so I ended up reaching out to the artists. Her name's Leslie Cal. And she's a local artist in Austin. And I said, and she said, the name of the piece of work was called one more day. Oh, wow. And then the back of it, there's a silhouette of a man walking through the door. And it was almost exactly like the silhouette of my dad before he got sick. And it just, and she even told me, she said, I lost my father a few months before I did this piece. And it was it was like a, it was a photography, collage type of thing. And so it had pictures from a crypt that she had seen when she was in Spain, and just some flower. And it just was it just took my breath away. And so So I said, You know what, that's my Christmas present to myself this year. So I bought that. And I actually have it above my, my home office. And so when I was writing the book, it was like I could, you know, my dad was included in that process. So I think, what makes you feel comfortable, what makes you feel, you know, some extra love? I think if you're open to those things, I mean, I get friends all the time now that are like, Oh my god, I just got some poppies from, you know, from Joe that passed away or, or I just, I just saw another Cardinals, Susan. I mean, so that just makes me happy. Because I think it just it's very comforting. And I think if you're open to those things, then then you can really get those sides to
Brian Smith 46:24
Yeah, absolutely. And I don't think well, this is this show is we will lose not a bad word here. Yeah, signs are, I think, really important. So I was curious as to what your thoughts were on that. So I'm curious, did you and your father ever have talks about signs or afterlife or anything when when he was when he was here?
Susan Combs 46:46
No, I mean, my parents were both very religious. So, you know, I was brought up into church and everything like that, I tend to not be I'm more spiritual than anything, and I tend not to be very, into, like, so much organized religion, I think a lot of that's also by being in New York and being like, I feel like, you know, there's, there's god, there's, there's a being greater than me, and there's just different ways to get to a being greater than yourself. And so, but I went to a seminar, this is kind of cool, like, so I went to a seminar that Laureline did. And you were supposed to bring an item that was the person that had passed, and you randomly got paired with somebody. And so, you know, I went with, with a girlfriend, on on her birthday, and, and so we just randomly got matched with these people. And so I had my, my father's wings, his flight wings with me, and then this girl I get matched with, had had this ring that she gave me. And so I had established a new sign with my dad called Purple Tiger. And because my father, his squadron was the purple foxes, and we went to the University of Missouri, which are the tiger. So that's how I came up with purple Tiger. Because she kept saying, you know, you need to make things a little bit harder. Like, because like a sunflower can just be like a sunflower, you know, because there's there, they can be a frequent thing. But she's like, You need to have some harder things. So that, you know, kind of when you need an extra own, like you can really get those. So I got matched with this chick. And one of the the numbers, the number I established for my dad is 45 because we were born in 1945, that was just a number I picked. And so this girl gives me this ring. And I'm like trying to read the energy off of it and and I'm like looking at the ring, and I'm looking at the ring, and it's a purple stone in the center. And so when I'm giving it back to her, I said, Well, I said I feel like the person who this belong to was some sort of artists I said or created something beautiful. I said I don't know if they were a florist or, or a traditional artists, but I said I feel like they created things. And and then I started looking at the ring. And there were like there were four stones, and then there were center stone, but one of the stones was missing. So it was like it was a four but it was supposed to be a five but then it was a four and then the center stone was purple. And but it was a different purple stone. And so I said you know, I'm handing it back to her and I said it ended up being her grandmother's in the grandmother was a jeweler and she had made that ring. And I said to her, I said well, and I said what's that stone? I said it's like it's an amethyst, she's like, it's a purple Tiger's eye, or Wow.
Brian Smith 49:28
Susan Combs 49:30
And so I was like just what I think, you know, being open to those things are just like when I went back to Arlington, after my dad's headstone had been said, so that was in he was buried September 27 2019. And then I went back to see his headstone in December. And so I got a ton of signs that day. I mean, I got like helicopters flying over. Something told me to turn around I turned around and there was this whole wreath of a of sunflowers, and then I, below his headstone because he, my, my family were cremated. So it's in the in the column barium. And so I looked down and there was a was a reef. And it was tiger lilies and purple flowers. Purple Tiger. So it's just like, so that's why I tell people like, you have to be open because you have to be able to connect those dots. So some people that wouldn't have been open might have just felt like I was freaking wreath. But you gotta like, look into it a little bit further. So I think it's kind of cool when, when you get those little, you know, one of my friends call it God wakes.
Brian Smith 50:36
Yeah. But that's why I call them to and I think that we have this conversation because as you said, you have to be open to it, you have to be looking for the things because there's things going on around us all the time. And we can dismiss them as coincidences or seeing them as nothing. You talked about in the airport that that picture speak. And you to me, that's just that's just shows you are connected with the artists on a spiritual level. I don't think it was I don't think it was a painting that spoke to you. I think it was what was behind the painting.
Susan Combs 51:06
Let's see. Well, I'm like, you know, so my my brother Matt, because this is kind of a cool story. So my my brother Matt, like I mentioned, you know, he had he had leukemia when we were kids. And he was diagnosed in 1989. And then he relapsed. And then he ended up having a bone marrow transplant. And now this type of cancer, it's in the 90 percentile is on survival. So it's totally different than and so we could not find a match in the United States. I mean, I should have been the best match for him because we're full siblings, but I didn't match. Nobody matched we, you know, people did bone our drives are and this was before social media before the internet, right? I mean, it was just like, there was a lot of things that, that you had to like, do smoke signals and letters, and stuff done. And so my brother has been our transplant, but ended up being on June 19, in 1991. And his bone marrow came from Toulouse, France. And so when my brother hit his five year remission Mark, I mean, for liability purposes, they're never going to say that you're carried, but that's a real big deal with cancer. Yeah, and so my, my dad paid for us all to say at the Peabody Hotel, in Memphis, and we went and everything. And then there was a big write up in our local paper. And this priest wrote my family, after he read the article, and he said, I was just fascinated by the story, because he said, The only relics of St. Jude, outside the holy land are in Toulouse springs. And he said, In the Eastern Orthodox religion, the Feast of St. Jude is on June 19. And so then fast forward 26 years later, my brother's first daughter, Josie, or Josephine, was born on June 19. So her middle name is too loose. So I mean, there's, it's just so cool. I think that I kind of feel sad for people that aren't open to things because I think it just can be so beautiful. And you can get so many like, kind of, you know, like, hugs and love from the universe, if you allow yourself to be open to those things.
Brian Smith 53:07
Yeah, I tell I completely agree. And you know, it's funny that you mentioned hummingbirds and cardinals. We live in Ohio. And my wife sees Cardinals as a sign every time she sees a girl. She says she thinks of her father or daughter. We have hummingbirds. We put out hummingbird feeders. But it's really weird this year, we've hardly seen any all but the last couple of weeks, we've seen a ton of them. So I think you're absolutely right, it I'm a very rational person. And you raised by military father very organized, irrational, but that we live in the universe. I believe it's magical, if your eyes are open to it, and most of us walk around with our eyes closed.
Susan Combs 53:44
Yeah, I agree. I agree. And that's the thing. I mean, it's just it. It's very comforting. It's very comforting. And so you know, I one of my dear friends, she lost her her brother about it. He spent about a year and a half ago. And so I told her about cardinals, I said, Watch for Cardinals. And so she has a cardinal that she's named AJ after her brother and it's got like a funny hair, you know, feather thing that like her brother had spiked up hair. And so she's like, that's AJ, that's AJ. She's like, I know it is. So it's, I think that those are kind of cool things when people are open to it. And I think you got it, you just kind of kind of remind yourself and then I think it evolves too. So it's just like, so I'll, you know, if I'm kind of open to something and I look at things all, you know, all, you know, might develop some different signs for my dad and kind of had different conversations that way too.
Brian Smith 54:34
You mentioned you mentioned a couple of signs you said helicopters, I know some flowers, but you said you have some quirky signs too.
Susan Combs 54:39
Well like the tiger. Yeah, tigers, you know, kind of a quirky mine. And you know in the in the number 45 is one that I've stablished with him dairy farms too. So just because my grandparents were dairy farmers, so that's so like even like I don't know if you can see it, but the cover of the book actually has As a glass of milk, and that's kind of a hat tip to my grandma, they were dairy farmers. And so when I was actually in that seminar, she was trying to play a video. So the the dairy farm or the dairy farm thing was I had established it that morning with my dad, I was like, Okay, I was like, I don't know how we're going to do this one because we're in New York City, but I was like, I think, I think like if dairy farm or Holstein cows or something. So like, when I was walking to the seminar, I was like, thinking about this in my head. And so Laura was trying to play a video for all of us that had like the, what is it? Is it the Tibetan singing bowl, or whatever, you know, and so she was trying to play and she was playing, and then a frickin video cut in. And it was Holstein cow was mooing. And I was like, I got to, it's just so it's kind of like, so those are kind of funny things that just kind of happen along the way, too.
Brian Smith 55:57
It's, it's cool. It's cool. When you keep your eye when you when your eyes are open to it. And it sounds like you're you're very intuitive person to so it's a two way it's a two way communication. So, and I was again, I'm an engineer, so I'm like, Okay, do they put the thoughts in our head? Do they make the things happen? Do they know what's going to happen? And they put the thought in her head, you know, and my, my wife is very much like, she'll see a card was like, That's a sign. I'm like, well, we live in Ohio. It's the state bird. So every card was a sign. So one day, I walk every morning, and I'm walking in this Cardinal flies right across the front of me just like right from my face across the street. I'm like, maybe that was a sign, but it's just a Cardinal. And all right. And then like, two seconds later, this little golden fence flies across and lands in the yard next to me, and that those are very rare here. And I've never seen one land, like right there next to me, it was kind of like, my dad was going Yeah, you did? Or no, but you got you got such a fence.
Susan Combs 56:55
Yeah, I mean, you know, I mean, because I can see your face behind you. And she's got a lot of light, right? I mean, it's just like I would I would establish that bench. Yeah. And I think you'll get home if you ask her for it.
Brian Smith 57:07
Oh, yeah, absolutely. So I'm also curious about this, you talk to your readers about being proactive through grief, what does that mean?
Susan Combs 57:17
I think that, you know, kind of like talking about like, like building your tribe before you need it. So that was one of the things I mean, that, you know, I don't have family in New York. And really, I you know, I have one kid cousin that lives here with her husband. But you know, I don't see her that much. But, you know, when it comes to my nucular family and everything like that, I didn't have that. And I remember when I moved to New York, my dad said, find the alumni chapter from the University of Missouri, because he said, you won't have to explain yourself, people just automatically understand where you're from. And it'll just be easier. So. So I kind of took that to heart. And I really built such a great chosen family here. And I think that sometimes, I mean, family can be such a hot button for so many people. And so when I, when I talk about family, I'm like, Look, I was like, there's some people that adore the family. Some people that move across country from the family, some people find out they have a secret family, I was like, and then you can have, you know, some people that don't have any family. So they can, they can pick and choose and make their own family. And I think that, that the chosen family can be almost so much more important sometimes because they can see you more as a complete person. Because your family is always going to have its own preconceived notions, you know, they'll look at you as the, you know, the kid with pigtails and braces that sits at the kids table at the holidays, and they don't see you as a fully formed human, your chosen family, you know, that has entered into your life as an adult, that you see more completely than a lot of times your family can. So I think having those people kind of connected, knowing what you need, and I think being okay to advocate for yourself and stand up and say, like, No, I can't do this right now. I just can't, I can't, you know, because I think, you know, they always say, you know, how do you get something done, give it to a busy woman, right? But it's just like, it's okay with saying no, and maybe making, that'd be a complete sentence. And so I think it's important to like, kind of understand those types of things, but then also look at, you know, ways that,
like, I truly feel that sometimes, especially when you're dealing with grief and loss, we can, we can focus so much on ourselves, and it can become a very selfish place. But if we reach out and can help others, that really gets us out of our own heads, and we can make a further impact. So one of the things that I've done, since my father's past is I become a hospice volunteer, and just as a way to be a living tribute to the hospice people that took such good care of our family, when my dad was sick, but also like to understand because I think a lot of times with people in hospice, they just they don't understand it until you've experienced it. So I think hospice is one of those things that it's like You can't be pathetic until you've been there. Because people just think, oh, it's dark. It's so bad. I'm like, Oh, how could you do that? How could you be like my brother? How could you be a hospice nurse. But it's such a beautiful thing. And when somebody allows you into a process of when you're going to be crossing over, it's it can be just magnificent. And there's this book that I read, I literally finished reading it on the flight home. So I had, I had been in Missouri for a long time, and I came back and a few days after I came back, because my dad was doing better. And then literally, I landed, because I looked, I laid it on, like I was back in New York on August 28. And I was flying back on August 21. And then my dad passed on the 22nd. And I finished reading that book on the plane, and it was called midwife for the souls. And it was written by a hospice nurse. And it talked about the signs of when somebody's passing, and it talked about kind of like their mental process. And when they're, they're crossing over. And it was very beautiful. But it was also it allowed me to understand what he was kind of going through. And then it also made it so that I could see the signs of wanting it was getting close. And so I we had a rule in our house that if if anybody woke up at any given time you checked on that, if you had to go to the bathroom, if you wanted to get a drink, you checked on Dad, because he was on oxygen, and he could turn in the nasal cannula could come out and he could get his oxygen, you know, be deprived, and then he could have some confusion. So since I finished that book, I woke up at like three or 330 in the morning, I went and checked on it. And I could see that we were getting to the point. And I went to my brother. And I said I said I think it's coming. I think it's going to be soon. And my brother said he was like I just checked on him about a half hour. He said I think you're right. And I said well, do you want me to get mom up? And he said, Yeah, let's he said, let me come down and check on me. He's like, and then probably, so my brother getting down check on he said it's going to be soon. And this was before my brother was a hospice nurse. But he was on college nurse so he didn't see, you know, his fair share of death. But um, so I woke up my mom, and we were able to sit around his hospital bed. And we talked about like, our favorite family vacations, because hearings, the last thing that goes and we just talked about, like such good memories, and we were just, we were all with them. And you know, I had my hand on the inside of his elbow. And I just felt a whole stop. And I looked at my brother, I was like, he's gone. And then my brother checked with a stethoscope, of course. And he's like, and he was just, you know, I think when you don't live around family and you think like, oh, you rationalize it in your head, like, it's gonna be okay if I'm not there, because I knew it was a coin toss if I was going to be there if you pass. And I'm so glad I was there. I'm so glad I was there. And I'm glad I read that book because I don't I don't think I would have had the awareness to have woke up my brother woke up my mom and we could have just all got up that morning and he could have been gone and not have been with him when it happened. So
Brian Smith 1:03:00
it's beautiful that you had that moment. You know, it's it's to me that moments really interesting because a lot of times and you might know this from being hospice volunteer, a lot of times they will wait till the family has gone to pass because they want to pass a loan. So people will sit vigil sit vigils, that vigil, and then they leave to go get a cup of coffee or they go home to take a shower. And that's when they slip away. So
Susan Combs 1:03:23
Right. Yeah, I mean, because that's what happened. I mean, so my mom was with my dad's nurse, and his oxygen level was going down. And my in the hospice nurse, her name is Jennifer. And we're still all attached to our families with her. And she said to my mother, she said, he's he's passing. And his oxygen was going down, going down going down, even though it was on full force. Yeah. And my mom said, Oh, but Matt's on his way. And it went down to zero. And then it came back up. Yeah. And then since I, like I mentioned hearings, the last thing that goes, my brother, my mother kept talking around him and saying, Susan's coming home, you know, Susan's flying back. She'll be home tonight. And so. So I think he waited, waited for us. And then for my dad, I mean, my dad was only 72 When he passed, and I'm 73. And for his 70th birthday, I put together a book for him. So I reached out to all his different circles, and I said, Can I get a memory a thought or a letter or a story about about him, and you know, you could share pictures and things like that. So I put together a whole photobook with like, all these letters and stories and stuff like that, and I gave it to him on his 70th birthday. And I remember him saying to me, like the day after I gave it to him, like he and I had some time in the morning. He said, I don't think I responded properly. And I said, What do you mean? And he said, Well, he said, you basically handed me a book and saying like this, this is your life. And I because it had people that like my dad went to a one room schoolhouse, you know, had people from that had been helicopter pilot with him had people that he had had mentored, like, just all different facets of his life. And so I took that book, and I read to him the entire last day. And so I read to him, like all these different stories and things, and then we laughed as a family because we had forgotten about some of the funny stories and things like that. So it was, I think, I would like to go out that way. You know, I mean, to have somebody just reading and kind of reflecting about, you know, some funny things and just some beautiful stories and just showing me the impact that I've made on others.
Brian Smith 1:05:31
Yeah, that's, that's awesome. That's awesome. Glad you had that experience. Susan, we're actually running out of time. It's been really, really great meeting you. It's been a pleasure getting to know you. Tell people where they can find you and find out more about what you do and your book.
Susan Combs 1:05:46
Sure. So the book can be found at WWW dot pancakes roger.com. Or you can just go to Amazon and go Pancakes, pancakes, Roger pack, you know, there's, there's only one book like that. And then, on the website, you can kind of connect through all social medias. Because my, my social media like the Instagram is at combs and company. And then my social media check made me get on Tik Tok. So there's tick tock videos. So I always tell people, if you don't have time to read the book, the book, have you read it start to finish this about three and a half hours, but you can pick it up and put it down very, very easily. But you can just follow me on social media and you get a video every Tuesday with a different chapter. So if you don't have time, you can just listen to it and you'll like read the book that way.
Brian Smith 1:06:29
Awesome. Well, great. It's been it's been really good getting to meet you have a great rest of your day.
Susan Combs 1:06:34
Thank you so much. Have a good day.
Brian Smith 1:06:37
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Transcribed by https://otter.ai