Kathi Koll, author of the intimate and moving memoir "Kick-Ass Kinda Girl: A Memoir of Life, Love and Caregiving," will be conducting a reading and Q & A at Pages bookstore in Manhattan Beach on Thursday, Feb. 21.
In the book, Koll recalls how her life changed overnight in 2005, after her husband, real estate developer Donald Koll, suffered a catastrophic stroke, leaving him paralyzed from the neck down, unable to speak, breathe or walk on his own.
“When I was going through this situation, I wished I could talk to someone else like me, someone who’d really understand what I was going through. I wrote this book because of that,” Koll explains.
“I would really like people to know that happiness takes a lot of work in any day-to-day situation. It takes work to have friends, to go to work, to go on vacation, not just in this type of situation: it takes a lot of work just to be happy. A take-away from what I went through and what I am doing now is to make sure people understand it’s not easy, it could be hard, but the happiest people are those who push themselves out of the box, and when you accomplish something you feel good about it.”
Koll relates that every single day people are facing the challenge of caregiving, whether it’s for a sick parent, child, sibling, friend, or spouse – while also caring for themselves. Koll hopes by sharing her own story she can support others.
“One thing I used to think about a lot when my husband was so ill, was that as hard as it was, as difficult as it was, I thought that one day I’m going to look back on this, and it will be a blink in time. And now I look back and I see that it went so fast. I think it would help people now to know that. It puts you in a little different frame of mind to realize that.”
Along with writing and sharing her intensely personal story, in 2014 Koll founded the Kathi Koll Foundation, which offers short-term financial subsidies for struggling caregivers, and a community education program aimed at helping them navigate through the challenges of caregiving.
A branch of the foundation, Kathi’s Caregivers, focuses on specifically emphasizing the role of family caregivers, helping them to understand they are not alone.
Koll says attendees at next Thursday’s event should feel comfortable asking any questions they may have about her book, the caregiving experience or the foundation.
“I want people to feel free to ask anything they like. At one point when I was writing the book, I thought some of the things I was saying were embarrassing, but I felt I had to be open and honest about everything, from creating a new normal to experiencing depression,” she said.
According to Koll, “My situation was not any different than anyone who is a caregiver. To each person, it’s the hardest thing in the world. I hope people can feel they can learn from me.”
The book, which took Koll four years to complete, includes ample evidence of the fact that Koll is indeed a “kick-ass” girl who never gave up working to improve her husband’s and her own quality of life.
Koll’s event is Feb. 21 at 7 p.m., Pages. The bookstore is located at 904 Manhattan Ave. in Manhattan Beach. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the book will be used to support caregivers in need.