I first became acquainted with Carol Kohankie about a year ago when she and I met through Facebook and then in person over coffee at Epic Gelato where we discussed Flower Mound history, hair care and parent coaching.
To be clear, it was Carol who filled me in about the history of my town, how it’s grown since she arrived here more than 38 years ago and how important it is for all of us to take an active interest in the growth of Denton County in general, and specifically Flower Mound now that it enjoys a booming population of 76,000 with no sign of slowing down.
Much has been written about Carol over the past few years in The Cross Timbers Gazette, including an account of her youth in Massachusetts, her marriage to husband Bob in the mid-60s, their firefighter son Watson and the many ways she’s made a difference in our community.
Carol had no shortage of stories to share with me about the events and organizations she has been involved in over the years and the innate pull she has towards being an involved neighbor, an example that was handed down to her by her parents.
In fact, one of her tales involved how she’d come upon a car accident along FM 2499 years ago, she stopped and asked how she could help and found out the woman involved in the crash was a neighbor from a few streets over. The woman was not injured but clearly shaken up so Carol offered to go get the woman’s husband and stay at their home with their two kids so her husband could be there to support her. How many of us would do that?
I know I would like to think I’d do the same thing, but I’m just not sure in our busy world (where I often see, and sometimes am guilty of myself, pulling into the garage and closing the garage door before even waving hello to a neighbor who is outside in their yard).
Recently, Carol encountered some health challenges as a result of medication she was taking in the fall, in fact she was actually on hospice and only given until the end of the year to survive. The spitfire that she is, even gravely ill, Carol had completely planned her funeral…she’d chosen the songs, the speakers…she had all the details in place!
What she calls a miracle has turned her health around and though the long-term effects include a significant loss of her hearing and issues with balance, today Carol is very much alive and kicking!
“I look at my situation and I am blessed to be able to do what I can do.”
The day I spoke with Carol, her friends Rikki and Jessica from her Bible study group were visiting her as well. Rikki in particular has been by Carol’s side during her illness and thinks of Carol as very much a mother figure in her life. She was very unhappy and scared of losing her friend when learning of Carol’s diagnosis but, as a strong woman herself, Rikki knew that she needed to set aside her own feelings about Carol’s future and love and support her friend no matter what.
At the time of my visit Carol was soon to be released to return home where she is so excited to be able to reconnect with all of the comfort home brings including her husband Bob who has been incredible during the past several months of her illness and recovery, and her cat whom she has missed dearly.
Carol believes the power of prayer from all of those in our community who’ve grown to admire her is what has healed her kidneys. She’s encouraged by renewed and strengthened relationships among her closest family members, something she attributes to a shift in perspective as a result of her serious health issues. Carol has shown many what resilience means by her living example of “being grateful for every day and for all that you have.” And though she still wonders why she’s been granted this renewed lease on life I know, at least in part, it is to share with all of us a message of hope and gratitude.