Forward: This is the story of a Hero, a God. Not yours, but mine. I don't have a father the same way you do. Mine wouldn't know me walking down the street probably. So this is the story of my 'Dad'. The only one I have, and the best dad a girl could ask for.

I stood in my crib, peering over the edge of the wooden rail. He was sleeping in the bed in my room, his white hair forming a halo around his head in the morning light. The blue flowered quit had been pushed down to his waist, showing his plain white shirt and broad chest. He had his glasses and a tooth on the table next to him. Grown-ups could take out their teeth! How cool!

I watched him for a moment more, waiting for him to get up. I was bored. I wanted him to play with me. The symbols on the music box looked different from when I usually got up, but I was so excited to play with him that I hadn't wanted to lay down long. I cried loudly, looking at him. He shifted but didn't move. I cried again and he peeked open one blue eye. He had pretty eyes, prettier than Mommy's even.

I sniffled and held out my arms to him. He smiled and sat up in bed, reaching for the glasses and pushing away the covers. I bounced in my crib, straining to reach him more.

Wind blowin' on my face
Sidewalk flyin' beneath my bike
A five year-old's first taste
Of what freedom's really like

I sat on the floor, crying as I looked at my broken Mermaid doll. I hadn't meant to play with it so hard. Mommy said it couldn't be fixed. I hugged the doll to me, crying harder. It was my favorite! I couldn't believe I had broken it!

I looked up as he walked towards me, a kind smile on his face.

"What's wrong, darling?" he asked. I held out the doll to him, sobbing. He took it in his hands and gently turned it over, examining it.

"Mommy says it broken!" I wailed. He wrapped his arm around me, rubbing my back.

"Let me have a look," he said. He went and got some tools and took it apart, examining the little parts inside it. I had been pulling the string to make it talk and pulled to hard. Something inside it snapped and the string wouldn't go back in. Mommy had looked at it but couldn't figure it out.

Mommy came and pulled me away from him to eat. I cast one last sad look at the doll and followed her.

When I was done with my snack I sat at the table, still sobbing. I loved my mermaid doll. I was too rough. Mommy always said I was too rough.

He walked into the room, his hands held behind his back.

"Still sad?" he asked. I hiccupped and nodded my head. He smiled and pulled his hands out, holding the doll out to me. I looked up at him and took it, confused. Her arm was back in place from where I had broken it a few months ago. I turned the doll over and found the string back in it's proper place. With a gentle tug, she began to sing again.

I looked up at him in awe.

"You fixed it," I said, amazed. He nodded and lifted me into his arms. I stared at him for a moment more in wonderment, then flung my arms around his neck, hugging him as tightly as I could.

"Thank you!" I said. He chuckled and rubbed my back, pressing a kiss to my temple.

He was amazing. He could do anything. He was like a god! He was my hero.

He was runnin' right beside me
His hand holdin' on the seat
I took a deep breath and hollered
As I headed for the street

Mommy tucked me in to the mattress on the floor of his room and kissed me goodnight. I waited until she closed the door and quickly kicked back the covers. I tiptoed over to his bed and looked at where he was sprawled out. There was no room. I pouted and looked up at his sleeping face.

"Pop," I whispered, poking him. He grunted peeked open one blue eye to stare at my sulking face. With a chuckle he scooted over and lifted the covers. I smiled and clamored into the bed next to him, snuggling into his chest, inhaling the familiar scent of his aftershave. He wrapped his arm around me, kissed the top of my head and murmured;

"My cuddle buddy."

You can let go now, [Grandpa]
You can let go

I sat next to him in the restaurant booth. We had gone with him and Nana to South Carolina and I had so much fun! He was eating out of shells like the ones I had gotten from the beach, which was weird. He had let me try some but it tasted funny. I looked at the shells longingly. I hadn't found ones that were that color on the beach and I wanted it. Seeing my expression, he picked up the shells.

"Do you want them?" he asked. I bit my lip and nodded.

"They're pretty and big," I muttered. He smiled and handed them to Nana.

"Put these in your purse," he said. She looked at him surprised.

"Art, their just clam shells," she argued.

"And my baby girl wants them," he said with finality. She rolled her eyes but wrapped them in a napkin and pocketed them.

When we got home, he took the shells from Nana's purse and went out to his work room. He came back and handed me the closed shells. I smiled and clutched them in my hand. He reached over and took one, shaking it. He rattled loudly.

"Noise maker," he said with a wink. I grinned and jumped into his arms, kissing him and shaking the shells. They may not have been as bright as the shells from the beach, but he had made them so much cooler. I shook them furiously, laughing.

Oh, I think I'm ready
To do this on my own
It's still a little bit scary

I put away the last of the coloring books and followed Nana into the kitchen for ice cream. She smiled and laughed as I told her about my friend from school. He came in and sat beside me, laughing at my sweet smeared face. When I was done, I washed at the sink and followed him in to watch Wheel of Fortune. I was sitting on the floor next to his recliner, glancing at him every now and then.

"Can I sit in your lap?" I asked him. His blue eyes turned to me, surprised.

"Of course," he said. "Since when do you ask?"

"Mommy said I was getting too big," I huffed. He reached down and pulled me up, sitting me on his thigh.

"I'll decide when you're too big to sit in my lap," he said. I smiled and leaned against his chest, inhaling the familiar and comforting scent he always had. Nana walked into the room with popcorn in hand and smiled at us.

"I see you have your cuddle buddy," she commented. He smiled down at me.

"I sure do," he replied.

But I want you to know
I'll be ok now, [Grandpa]
You can let go

I walked into the downstairs room where he lay. It was usually the guest room but he wasn't able to go up the stairs to his room. He had come out of surgery and they said he would be fine, but I was still scared. It was the realization that this man, who to me was a god, was in fact, mortal. He could get sick and hurt, just like the rest of us mortals.

He smiled at me, reached out. I went into his arms, my eyes watering.

"You're gonna be okay?" I asked.

"Yup," he said, softly. I rested my head on his chest, feeling Mommy come up behind me and rub my back. The room fell silent except for my quiet sniffs. In the quiet of the room, beneath my ear I heard 'tick, tick, tick' like a gear. I sat up, surprised.

"What is that?" I asked.

"That 'tick' sound?" Mommy asked. I nodded, wide eyes looking at the two chuckling adults.

"It's my heart," he said. "They put in a plastic piece to replace the damaged piece of my real heart."

"Like, mechanical?" I asked. He nodded. I smiled and laid my head back down. He wasn't just a God, he was a Super Hero.

I was standin' at the altar
Between the two loves of my life
To one I've been a daughter
To one I soon would be a wife

I looked up from what I was doing and met his eyes. He smiled at me.

"Will you walk me down the aisle when I get married?" I asked. Blue eyes widened in surprise at my question. I blushed but didn't look away. It's what I wanted, more than anything. He was quite. I began to worry.

"I can get a wheel chair for you if you can't walk!" I said. "I'll just ride on the back or sit in your lap!" He smiled again, the wrinkles in his aged face getting deeper.

"Of course," he said. "Did you even have to ask?" Tears sprang to my eyes.

"Thank you," I said.

When the preacher asked,
'Who gives this woman?'
[Grandpa]'s eyes filled up with tears

I laughed as we sat around the living room, listening to him talk about when he was a young boy, growing up on the farm. Nana rolled her eyes at some of his stories, but I begged him to go on. He smiled and sat back in his chair.

"I used to get the rubber tubes and make them into sling-shots," he said. "and chase the chickens around the yard, shooting rocks at them." I fell to the side, giggling.

"That was another time my mother used my full name," he mused.

He kept holdin' tightly to my arm
'Till I whispered in his ear

I looked around the room, finding all the seats taken. He looked up at me and smiled, holding out his hand.

"You can come sit in my lap," he said.

"I'm a bit big, don't you think?" I asked. He chuckled.

"I'll decide when you're too big," he said. I looked at his frail form.

"But, I weigh 160 pounds," I argued. He only smiled, his arm still out.

"I'll just sit on the arm," I offered. "I don't want to hurt you." I sat on the arm of the chair and put my legs in his lap. He smiled and patted my knee. I bent down and kissed his cheek.

You can let go now, [Grandpa]
You can let go
Oh, I think I'm ready
To do this on my own

We sat around the table playing Domino's. I pouted as I looked at my own side, which was stuck. Mom teased me, saying I was going to lose.

"She's pickin' on me!" I whined to him, leaning against his shoulder and pointing an accusing finger at my mother. He chuckled and laid a domino on my side.

"Here, sweetie," he said. "I'll help you out." I smiled and kissed him.

"Thank you," I said, sending my mother a playful glare. "At least someone still loves me." He laid his aged hand over mine on his arm and smiled down at me.

"Always," he said. I smiled up at him. Even after all these years, he was still my Super Hero. His cape may be a bit dusty, but he was still a Hero in my eyes.

It still feels a little bit scary
But I want you to know
I'll be ok now, [Grandpa]
You can let go

I jumped up and down, excited. It had worked! My car hadn't wanted to turn on after a fender-bender and I couldn't figure out why, but he had mentioned something and when I went out to check, he had been right! I was so excited I squealed and ran back into the house, calling him up.

He answered the phone and I immediately told him just how awesome he was. He laughed.

"I didn't really do anything," he said.

"Yes you did!" I said. "You fixed it!"

"You fixed it," he corrected. "I just told you how."

"Face it, Dad," Mom interrupted. "You're the hero of the day." He laughed.

"I just can't stand to see her cry," he said. "It breaks my heart." I laughed.

"Well, I'm smiling now," I said.

"Good," he said. "That makes me happy."

It was killin' me to see
The strongest man I ever knew
Wastin' away to nothin'
In that hospital room

I stared at him, lying in the bed. He was so thin, so frail. My Hero, My god, was dying. I finally realized that no matter what he was in my eyes, at the end of the day, he was still mortal. And the faults in the design of his mortal body were taking their toll. I walked over and hugged him tight, inhaling the familiar smell of him. He made a sound of happiness, pressing his cheek against my wet one.

"I love you," I said. "So much."

"I love you, too," he said.

'You know he's only hangin' on for you'
That's what the night nurse said

I held his hand, stroking back his hair. He smiled at me, that same smile that warmed my heart as a child. I smiled back. He squeezed my hand. I squeezed back.

"Thirsty," he said. I lifted the straw to his lips and watched him drink. He coughed a little and I pulled it back.

"Are you in pain?" I asked, rubbing his arm.

"No," he said. "Hot." I stood and pulled the thick blanket off him, leaving only the sheet.

"Thank you," he said. I returned to his side and took his hand. It was still the same hand I remembered. Wide and strong. The hands that had worked wood, taken things apart and repaired them. The same hands that lifted me up as a child and made me feel so safe. He was still the same man. The god like hero of my childhood, who couldn't die, who would always be there, but now…now he had lost his godly powers. Someone had found his kryptonite and reduced him to a mortal man who lay in a hospice, dying. I watched as he fell asleep and pressed my knee's to my face and cried.

My voice and heart were breakin'
As I crawled up in his bed, and said
You can let go now, [Grandpa]
You can let go

I crawled into the bed next to him as I had done so many times as a child. I was careful of the hoses and machinery he was hooked up to. I lay my head on his chest, listening to the 'tick, tick, tick' of his heart. He wrapped his arm around me and smiled. My hand found his and I held it tight. He squeezed my hand, I squeezed back. I listened to the hiss of the oxygen machine and the steady hum of the C.D. player as it played piano music.

"I love you," he said.

"I love you," I said. "So very much."

Your little girl is ready
To do this on my own
It's gonna be a little bit scary

I pressed kisses to his cheek.

"I love you," I said. "I love you so much. I know you're in pain, I know you're suffering and it's okay if you let go. I'll be okay." He squeezed my hand.

But I want you to know
I'll be ok now, [Grandpa]

I stared at the casket. I didn't want to go near it. The man that lay in the casket wasn't him. It didn't look like him. It didn't smell like him. It wasn't warm like him. Mom came up behind me.

"You don't have to hold it in," she said. I shook my head.

"I'm not," I said. "But, it's not him. It's an empty husk. He's gone." She smiled.

"That's true," she commented. "When did you get so smart?"

I didn't answer, I just stared. I watched as people walked up to his body. He would have hated this. He thought it was 'barbaric' to view a dead body. I could almost hear him at my side, making his smart aliky comments. I stared at the body. People cried over it but I just couldn't.

It wasn't my hero. It wasn't my god-like hero. It didn't have his smile, his gentle eyes, his witty humor, his sage like wisdom. It was a hollow shell.

You can let go
You can let go

I stood outside, cigarette in hand. I remembered all those years I would run up to the front door, ready to me lifted into those strong arms, to bask in the glow of my Hero. I wouldn't have that anymore. My hero had been defeated. My God had been given the fatal potion that had made him mortal, but in my eyes, he was still a god. My mortal god, who had graced me with his presence, who had always given me a kind smile and always been there. He had been benevolent and wise but in the end, I had to show him that I had enough courage, strength and compassion to let him go home.

I smiled. My god hadn't died. My god had just gone home.

"I love you, Pop," I said, aloud.

DHMB: This is a true story. This is not a work of fiction. This is me being raw. This is me being real. This is me putting pen to paper and dealing with my crushing grief the best way I know how. This is me hoping that maybe it helps someone else out their who has lost someone so dear to them.