Just Show Up – My Dad’s Last Poker Hand

Just Show Up – My Dad’s Last Poker Hand

Dad’s cancer is vicious and rapid. When first diagnosed within the first two weeks we were graced with time alone together he had said to me, “This is growing fast, Shannon, I can feel it.”

Regardless, Dad wanted to play the odds. He went to MDAnderson and heard that he had a 90% chance of his body accepting the immunotherapy, Keytruda. That with these high odds he would possibly see the main tumor in his lung shrink and slower progression of the cancer elsewhere in his body. The key statement made to my father before leaving MDAnderson was the possibility of him living up to 18 months. He liked those odds.

However, merely 6 weeks later, he arrived at my house for Thanksgiving having gone through surgery on his arm only the week before. The cancer had spread to his bone and made them so brittle his bones were breaking and his arm split in two. They put in a rod and screws to keep it together. He was also dependent on his oxygen which was another new development.

These were not good signs. When I went to visit the following week he went through more testing to see if the Keytruda was working. On a Tuesday evening Dr. Roque drove to my parents home in the country, sat down with my dad and told him the tumor in the lung had grown as well as finding new indication of cancer in his liver and other organs. The Keytruda was not working, for the first time in his life, the luckiest man alive had fallen into the 10%.

The doctors rallied to encourage him to go on an extreme chemotherapy regime but he knew this form of treatment would quite literally render him useless and he wanted to be aware and capable of having conversations with his grandchildren in two weeks time.

Within that two weeks dad went into the hospital with a blood clot to the lung. Once released, only one day later, back in the hospital with pneumonia. On my last visit with him recovering from pneumonia we sat alone in his hospital room and he began to talk to me about the things he felt he could never or should never say but now it was time. About how we are all human, we make mistakes, but we need to be true to who God created us to be, not to take the time we have for granted and not allow others to take away our spirit. He told me he was proud of me, that I was the strongest woman he’d ever met and he backed that with ‘That says a lot’ because he knows many strong women!

He admitted to his own failings and shed a tear over his concerns. And at one point he said, “Shannon, is this what the rest of my life is? Watching Family Feud from a hospital bed?” It was then that I knew we were ready for the final conversation. 

I called in Dr. Roque, who came in 30 minutes later to the hospital, and with one of my dad’s best friends present, myself and my mom, she sat on the edge of the bed as he asked about his odds. 

“Tim,” Dr. Roque began, “This is growing faster than we predicted. The Keytruda didn’t work as it should have. If we were to do the chemotherapy as we suggested you’d have a 20% chance of living just a little bit longer.”

“A 20% chance of living in a hospital bed watching Family Feud,” dad said sadly.

“Yes, unfortunately there is nothing that will get you back to where you were before.”

My dad looked directly into Dr. Roque’s eyes, “I don’t like that hand. I fold.” And he wept.

That was Friday, December 14th. My dad is now at home in a hospital bed on Hospice care, watching Family Feud and waiting for his grandchildren to come into town so he can ‘love on them and kiss them’ as is his last wish. He has told the Hospice nurse his goal is to make it through the 20th for our family reunion and after that he is fine with whatever the Lord chooses.

My father is a loved, cherished, well-respected man who has had many people writing to me and posting on FaceBook, letting me know how he has affected their lives. He was never a perfect man, and he never claimed to be (though he did feel he was always right and knew everything 🙂 ) but he cared about people and only wanted to see those he loved succeed. 

I will end this post with the song he and I danced to at my wedding. “That’s My Job” by Conway Twitty. It sums up who my father is not just to me or my siblings but to anyone he came in contact with, he felt it was ‘his job’ to give wisdom, to take care of you, to be a support. Thank you for the love and concern you’ve given to him and to us. We are blessed.

Blessings  Shannon 

By |2018-12-18T09:12:59-07:00December 18th, 2018|Blog|40 Comments


  1. Kathy December 18, 2018 at 9:54 am

    Love to you all! I pray your dad’s last wish is granted! 🙏 ❤️

  2. Jennifer Albright December 18, 2018 at 10:06 am

    I know how loved he is! I hear about Uncle Tim from Tara. We have to remember the HAPPY our loved ones were and all the HAPPINESS they gave to the world!

  3. Shannon Deitz December 18, 2018 at 10:08 am

    Thank you Kathy!

  4. Shannon Deitz December 18, 2018 at 10:09 am

    Amen! We’ve shared much joy for certain. Thank you!

  5. Charles Cooper December 18, 2018 at 10:18 am

    My thoughts and prayers are with you. Please keep me posted.

  6. Shannon Deitz December 18, 2018 at 10:45 am

    I sure will Charles, thank you!

  7. Dawn Leal December 18, 2018 at 11:13 am

    Sending you love, hugs and prayers Shannon. <3

  8. Jen Elliott December 18, 2018 at 11:20 am

    Beautifully written Shannon. I love him and I don’t know him. You are amazing. Love you.

  9. Shannon Deitz December 18, 2018 at 11:38 am

    Thank you 🙏🏻

  10. Shannon Deitz December 18, 2018 at 11:38 am

    Thank you!!!

  11. Dianna Whitlock December 18, 2018 at 11:40 am

    Shannon, our prayers are with you, Tim, Judy, and the rest of the family. Tim really is one of a kind and we love and respect him. Just know that we check Facebook daily to see how he’s doing. We wanted to come see him, but also wanted to respect his and the family’s privacy. Please convey our love and thoughts to he and Judy.

  12. Shannon Deitz December 18, 2018 at 11:51 am

    I will Diana. I tell him about every single comment made. Thank you for loving him.

  13. Sandi Key December 18, 2018 at 12:41 pm

    What a beautiful thing to write about your dad! I just love your mom and through her, I feel I know your family. My heart breaks for you all, but I’m so glad you have had this time to talk. I wish it would of been longer, but it’s never enough time! I pray for Tim to make it through the holidays and for peace for all of you! Prayers and Hugs to you all!

  14. Becky Smith December 18, 2018 at 1:32 pm

    May the peace that surpasses all understanding be with Tim and your family.

    Becky Smith

  15. Shannon Deitz December 18, 2018 at 1:45 pm

    Thank you so much!

  16. Shannon Deitz December 18, 2018 at 1:46 pm


  17. James M Beavrr December 18, 2018 at 4:59 pm

    I’m sorry but glad . I know that doesn’t make sense.sorry for loosing your dad, my uncle who I’ve tried to model my life , outlook ,ethics, honor and respect .. I’m glad that he was there to plant those seeds. He will live on in all of our tensing days… that is why I’m glad ….. be strong like you are bred to be ….he will still be there for us , just on a higher vantage point… love and peace.

  18. Shannon Deitz December 18, 2018 at 5:11 pm

    You are absolutely correct. Grateful for family.

  19. Tammy L Kennington December 18, 2018 at 8:12 pm

    My heart hurts for you in the now, but celebrates the forever you’ll enjoy together. With love and prayers, Tammy

  20. Kellye Hsrris December 18, 2018 at 9:33 pm

    Beautiful words Shannon about your Dad and this journey! I think you have his strength and wisdom. You are all blessed to have each other and the faith in God to get you all through this. Much love and prayers for you all

  21. Toogie December 18, 2018 at 9:43 pm

    Beautiful!! Thanks for sharing your dad with all of us! A True Blessing!

  22. Shannon Deitz December 18, 2018 at 9:51 pm

    Thank you!

  23. Shannon Deitz December 18, 2018 at 9:52 pm

    Thank You Kellye!!!

  24. Shannon Deitz December 18, 2018 at 9:52 pm

    Thank you!

  25. Brooke Kittel December 19, 2018 at 3:04 am

    God bless your sweet Dad! I am so glad I got to know him. Praying that his wish is granted. Love you all!

  26. Shannon Deitz December 19, 2018 at 5:52 am

    Thank you Brooke!!!

  27. Melissa December 19, 2018 at 6:32 am

    Praying for a peaceful next few days for you & your family, Shannon. And that the peace that passes all understanding will be yours. I pray regardless of the outcome that God will give you a very blessed Christmas.

    Much love & Many prayers,

    Mel. 💕

  28. Matt Andrus December 19, 2018 at 6:47 am

    Your just like him Shannon.. You do your job so well. Keep up the good work. You make him very proud.

  29. Shannon Deitz December 19, 2018 at 7:15 am

    That means a lot to me, Matt, thank you.

  30. Shannon Deitz December 19, 2018 at 7:15 am

    Amen! Thank you.

  31. Brenda Cato December 19, 2018 at 10:55 am

    Shannon, I’m Dana Walker’s mom. My heart is breaking for you, Michelle, & your Mom. I’m praying for peace & comfort for all of you. And also for the sweetest of times that you have left with him. It’s very hard to lose your Daddy.
    All of my love,
    Brenda Cato

  32. Shannon Deitz December 19, 2018 at 2:03 pm

    Thank you, Brenda. We appreciate the prayers.

  33. Ron Uselton December 19, 2018 at 4:09 pm

    Amazing sentiment. Tim is loved. I’ll never forget him, or his crazy antics. He encourages me more than he’ll ever know to continue teaching, and I appreciate that. And I apologize for waking him up at Winstar during a nap-break at the poker tournament.

  34. Shannon Deitz December 19, 2018 at 4:13 pm

    I will definitely let him know. Thank you for the kind words and memories. Blessings Shannon

  35. Cynthia Cardenas-Kolak December 19, 2018 at 4:32 pm

    Praying for you, your dad, and your family. You are an amazing woman! God Bless, Cindy

  36. Shannon Deitz December 19, 2018 at 5:26 pm

    Thank you Cindy!

  37. David Delgado December 20, 2018 at 4:41 pm

    Shannon, my name is David Delgado. I knew and worked with and for your dad when you all lived in El Paso. My thoughts and prayers are with you and the family. God be with him as he continues his spiritual journey in this new chapter of his spiritual existence. God bless you all

  38. Shannon Deitz December 20, 2018 at 5:26 pm

    I just read this to him, he remembers you, made him feel good. Thank you.

  39. Ruth Cox Williamson December 24, 2018 at 8:35 pm

    Your father has represented so many aspects of our shared humanity to so many people. Boss. Manager. Leader. Friend. Officiant. Advisor. In all these roles he did his best and gave of himself. Where he may have found error, others may have found vulnerability and observed his strength in moving past that moment.
    Let us all be grateful for him and his works. Well done good and faithful servant.
    Warmest regards
    Ruth Nuckols Cox Williamson

  40. Shannon Deitz December 24, 2018 at 9:30 pm

    Beautifully said, thank you so much. Merry Christmas 🙏🏻

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