In Memoriam. Alan R. Cochran (1/3/1953-8/2/2018)
Valued Client. More Valued Brother-in-law and Friend.

For several summers, my family and I made trips to Hilton Head with my sister, Kathy, and her husband, Alan. On one trip, we had been to dinner together and were headed back to the condo we were staying in for the week and Alan noticed a gate that was obviously the “back gate” to a gated residential community. The gate was unmanned but was an impressive wrought iron structure.

Alan was curious about what was hidden behind that gate, so he decided to try to find out. He pulled up to the gate, thinking it might open as the car approached. It did not open. But Alan did not turn the car around and leave. He got out of the car, walked to the gate, and pushed on it. And then he pushed a little harder. And the gate acquiesced and opened. Alan drove in, saw what he wanted to see and left, satisfied.

That was one seemingly insignificant event on a summer’s night in Hilton Head, but I think the incident says a lot about Alan and the way he approached life. Life presents obstacles, but whether obstacles become barriers depends on how you approach them.

Until you have tried to go over them, under them, around them, or through them, they are not proven to be barriers, just inconveniences between you and your desired path. If, after determined challenge, the obstacles do prove to be unpassable, you accept that, move on and calculate a different path that still delivers you to your desired destination.

Over the last 20-months, from Alan’s diagnosis of glioblastoma in November of 2016 until his passing on August 2, 2018, Alan exhibited that same kind of determination, grit, and desire to overcome the obstacle that was placed in his path. While this one, after extremely determined challenge, proved to be an unpassable barrier, Alan recalculated and still reached his ultimate destination, making the journey as joyful and painless as he could make it for those who loved him. It was sooner than he planned, and a different route than he planned, but he has now reached his intended destination. Alan taught many lessons to us during these last days as the phrases “I am so blessed” or “I have had a charmed life” came from his lips as long as he had the strength to speak. These lasting lessons will continue to promote generosity, love, compassion and the dogged perseverance life often requires even in the teacher’s absence.

I am certain that Alan did not have to force any gates open to enter his new gated residential community. I am sure he was warmly welcomed and the gates opened widely for him. But, just knowing Alan and his penchant for warming his welcome with bags of chocolate, he likely had a bag of chocolates for St. Peter.

– Danny M. Holcombe