Find yourself.  Express yourself.  Be yourself.

Day 18

On Day 18 the movie viewing stopped. This end was foreshadowed on Day 16 when, after viewing The Impossible, I checked my phone to find 3 urgent texts from my sister. My Dad was at the doctor after falling down and not being strong enough to pick himself up. While this was upsetting, it was also somewhat expected. We had been concerned about my Dad’s health for some time. We asked him repeatedly over the past two months what might be going on. We inquired, nagged, prodded and guessed until we were blue. He is an extremely private and independent being, so we got nowhere. We were worried about this turn of events, of course, but also found ourselves relieved that he would finally get checked out.

Things sped up from there. He was admitted to the hospital, my sister and I got plane tickets and within 30 hours of receiving those texts we learned he had been diagnosed with cancer 3 years ago, kept it to himself and now had kidney failure. We found ourselves in a tornado of information, doctors, tests, Hospice coordinators and prognoses. I agreed to stay here and be his primary caretaker so that he could go home to receive hospice care. This decision was made in a flash and without a moment’s hesitation. Sometimes you just get clear on what to do. My sister would come down frequently and together we would see him through his life and give him good care.

So I find myself here in California, one week later, in a whole new reality. It has been a stressful week to say the least. Completely surreal. I gave very little thought to my movie challenge as there were obviously more pressing issues at hand. But now we have been home for 5 days and have navigated our way into a routine. He is comfortable at this time and so we are doing a lot of hanging out: reading, talking, napping, visiting. And, of course, there will be movies.

My Dad and I have seen hundreds of movies together. I will let you in on a little family psychosis … umm that is to say secret. When I was in my twenties I decided to make a list of every movie I had ever seen. I told my Dad I was doing this and he decided to do it too. We are a family of list makers. I let my list go within 5 years but my Dad is no quitter. His list is currently up to date!

In the coming days and weeks there will be many challenges and plenty of highs and lows. Movies have always been a joy for us as a family. That joy will help carry us through some tougher moments. It may not be a movie every day, but I will resume my challenge. I will still see 31 movies and share them with you. I will add those movies to my Dad’s list and keep it current. We will both enjoy that!

I feel incredibly lucky to be supported in all of this. Before the drama of my Dad’s health unfolded I was touched and tickled by the response to my 31 Days, 31 Movies challenge. Friends, colleagues, clients would want to know which movie I saw yesterday and which movie I was seeing today. They embraced the project and cheered me on.

Since learning of my Dad’s illness and my need to take time away, people have simply been amazing. I have received incredible support and kindness. It touches me deeply. I appreciate you sharing in my life, good times and bad. It is a pleasure for me to write and know that those who read this do so with such open hearts. Thank you.

More to come.

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12 Responses to “Day 18”

  1. Lisa

    There is nothing I can say here, that I haven’t already said in my emails to you. You, your Dad, and family have my love, support and best wishes, today and all days. xoxox

  2. shelley

    All that know you agree, you are a uniquely special and amazing person. Your father should take comfort in knowing he raised a daughter of un bounding heart and grace. Namaste

  3. Susannah

    There is no greater gift than the gift of time and presence. I know that this will be a time for both your Dad and yourself to exchange those gifts, as well as other gifts that you will both appreciate-like the sharing of movie reviews. Peace.

  4. Elizabeth

    Dearest Luisa,
    love and prayers to you and your family.
    FYI Ally (my daughter) and I have signed up again to fund raise and run for Fred’s Team/MSKCC in the NYC Marathon 2013.
    XOXO, Elizabeth

  5. Luisa Tanno

    Thank you to all for these wonderful words of support and encouragement! I appreciate it so. Peace & Love, Luisa

  6. sue brenner

    My heart goes out to you both. I went through this with my dad 6 years ago and empathize with this amazing journey you are on together full of many twists and turns….. How lucky your dad is to have such a loving daughter by his side as he passes on….
    You are in my heart
    Sue Brenner

  7. Marita

    Luisa- I am thinking of you and praying for your dad and entire family. It is so wonderful that you are there with him. Tere is no better gift than that of love and thin together. Take good care of yourself too. Miss you.

  8. Struggle | Luisa Tanno

    […] my relationship with struggle as I care for my ailing father (you can get the details on that here).  What I am finding is that I relate struggle with endurance and perhaps even on some level, […]

  9. Bill Vernon

    I was thinking of the “31” and signed on for an update: I am so sorry to hear about your Dad and will keep you and all your family in my prayers. My Dad is in a hospital bed in our living room and I am living here as a caretaker because it has just become too much for Mom. His diabetes is the culprit and he lost his legs but not his sense of humor or love for his family!! It has been a journey; not what I expected to be doing…but the benefits of hanging out with Dad and listening to stories have made it easier. He has a lot of complications so we are at Yale New Haven Hospital more often now; about once a month he fights a new infection or most recently the flu. His resilience is astounding…anyway I wanted to give you a few kind words: Find the good in this experience…I see you have done this already. Appreciate these little things you’ll learn from your Dad. Express yourself, even if its frustration. Feel. Cry. Laugh…I have done all of this and it has given me patience and understanding; wisdom should hopefully come in time. Take breaks. Go through it and know you have a friend who cares and is just a phone call or email away. Love & Peace, Bill 203-561-4776

  10. Luisa Tanno

    Thank you Marita, Sue & Bill for your words and your empathy. I savor and appreciate it all!

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