The inevitable was on its way, my grandfather’s heart was enlarged and the congestive heart failure that had been plaguing him for the last four years was finally winning the battle. A hard fought battle that up until a little over four months ago now, Papa had beat back. His strategy was to follow the doctor’s orders to the letter … well, almost. Not the part about taking it easy and perhaps not mowing acres and acres of lawn for community service.
Knowing that he was not doing well didn’t diminish him in my eyes, in fact, it elevated him. I visited him often over the course of the last few weeks and even had enough sense to journal some of his stories. He was a Super Hero in my world, it didn’t matter that I was twenty-nine years old; I listened with awe and admiration, hoping that one day, when I was all grown up I would have stories as good as his.
During those last few weeks, on several occasions, he would have things he needed to talk about like dying, regret, his worry that Grandma would be taken care of and his excitement about heaven. I would sit and listen and do my best to reassure a dying man that all would be well or as well as it could be once he passed on. It is a humbling experience to have a conversation with a dying man. Especially when the man is the one who sang “You are my Sunshine” and “Goodnight Irene” to you when you were sick and had to eat chicken soup all day. The man who thought you were the prettiest girl in your class and who was always encouraging your growth. The man who was the superstar that taught you how to trim the rose bushes when you were seven and sat with you as you practiced you times tables. Do you see why he was my Super Hero?
The day came when all of the family was gathered and the Super Hero gave his last speech, forever engraving him in my memory as such. He sat up with such a clear gaze, breathing better than he had in weeks. With alarming poise and composure he told His family how to live a good life. He told us how to love each other and that at the end of the day—it was about love and family. He spoke for about an hour, uninterrupted, uninhibited. He then ate a bowl of iced cream and decided he was tired so he wanted to lie down. And like a true hero, was awarded a peaceful sleep and he was summoned off to heaven just hours later.
True peace is awarded to those who deserve it, he was one of them. I am still dealing with the loss, today marks one month since I last heard him call my name. It isn’t any less painful today than it was the day it happened. I am grateful for the memories; that I have experienced what a Super Hero truly is.