October 18, 2015
The meeting was attended by about twenty people
“Aloha,” we’ve been told, means not only “Welcome” and “Goodbye,” but also “Love.” It is clear that Cleo Kocol loved her husband Hank so much that she was able to allow him to die on his own terms. That’s the underlying theme of her memoir The Last Aloha.
Cleo read us excerpts from her memoir, and afterward answered many of our questions. She gave us a sampling of the full, fascinating life that she and Hank shared for 42 years up until the time of his death. We listened in rapt attention! Could our Cleo Kocol really have chained herself to a fence in protest of the LDS church’s stance against the Equal Rights Amendment? Could she have traveled to the USSR with Hank just because she should? Could she have been a dedicated humanist and feminist all her life?
Yes she could.
But the most poignant part of her presentation was that related to Hank’s decision to end his life rather than suffer the indignities of terminal Alzheimer’s disease. He revealed that his mind was made up during their final stay at their favorite Hawaii hotel – hence the book’s title. From there until Hank’s final day the tale becomes almost a thriller, what with time running out as Hank’s mentality deteriorated, and the knowledge that the Final Exit guides would not advise them if Hank were not lucid enough to perform the entire procedure by himself; because while it is not illegal to end one’s own life, it certainly is illegal to assist someone in the act.
In the end, of course, it all worked out. I would advise anyone interested in the details of Cleo and Hank Kocol’s incredible story of life and death to read her memoir, The Last Aloha, a real love story.
Thank you so much for all you’ve given to the world and to humanism, Cleo. We are in your debt.
Report prepared by Roger Zabkie
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