Linda Coble Talks About Her Last Moments With Husband Kirk Matthews
Hawai‘i Herald Columnist
Caregiving is about love.
That’s what former television-news anchor Linda Coble wants others to learn from her experience caring for her husband, KHON anchor Kirk Matthews, who died from cancer four years ago.
“I never stopped wanting to kiss him, which is something that some people are afraid to do,” Coble said. “I didn’t think I was going to catch cancer.”
Coble will share her caregiving story during a webinar/Facebook Live event to kick off AARP’s “Caregiving Wednesday” workshops in November, National Family Caregivers Month. AARP Hawai‘i will hold a free caregiving webinar every Wednesday [see sidebar].
Coble’s advice to other caregivers is to make time to take care of yourself, learn as much as you can and ask for help when you need it.
“I got a lot of information and also learned by watching the caregiving techniques when I was in chemo,” Coble said. “I talked to the nurses outside. I asked them, ‘how can I make him comfortable when I am not with you?’ Don’t be afraid to ask. Don’t be afraid to ask the nurses. Don’t be afraid to ask the doctor.”
In addition to what she learned from the nurses and doctors, Coble also did research online, including AARP’s aarp.org/caregiving resource page.
“I am just so proud of AARP… all those resources that are available. People need to take advantage of that,” she said.
She and Matthews also had a heart-to-heart talk about what was ahead and what to expect, “way before the times that are tough, to be able to talk it through and understand what each of us were able to do,” says Coble.
Coble is grateful for friends and family who offered to help with caregiving and encourages other caregivers to seek help if the person needs it.
“If somebody offers, if you can reach out; you’d be surprised at what kind of help you can get.”
But she also has advice for those offering help to caregivers.
“Don’t feel bad if you are turned down. If somebody wants to come over, maybe it’s not a good time,” she said.
For Coble, taking care of Matthews during the last stages of cancer was perhaps the hardest thing she’s ever done and, at the same time, joyful.
“He (Matthews) always had a smile on his face that told me right away not to change the way we’ve always lived and loved,” she said. “We laughed at everything from embarrassment to joy.”
Coble said she will always remember Kirk’s final moments, his looking into her eyes in bed and sharing “the longest kiss we had shared since all of this began. It was so sweet and yummy and when I pulled back, I looked at him and he looked at me and he died.
“It meant so much to me to know that I got to kiss him goodbye.”
Craig Gima is communications director at AARP Hawai‘i. He is an award-winning multimedia communicator with more than 30 years of experience. A Honolulu native, Gima spent nearly 19 years at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser in a variety of reporting, editing and online roles before joining AARP in 2016. Gima graduated cum laude from the University of Southern California.