I went to see my Grandad on Saturday, braving the predictions of dire weather (which never materialised) and accompanied by my loving wife (and handy potential co-shoveller if we got stuck in snow).
Since Grandad had a stroke last year he has been in and out of hospital. It's hard to see him so reduced and rendered immobile, when he had always been so healthy and such a 'potterer'. He didn't like sitting still and would always find something to do in the kitchen, the garden, the shed.
Basically he's dying. And healthcare being what it is, a process which would have taken a few days a century ago has stretched out for nearly a year. I have no doubt of where he is going. Part of me wishes he was there already, because seeing him in that hospital bed slowly robs me of my memories of him as he was.
But, you know, my Grandma says that she feels that Grandad has told her that he loves her more often since the stroke, than in all their years together - it was their 64th wedding anniversary this year. So maybe there is some point to that drawn out goodbye.
And I've been able to tell him that I love him too. Because we men are crap at doing that unless it looks like someone is heading Home. I've had the chance to tell him how much I appreciate all the things he's done for me; all the things he's done for the family. How his work ethic and self-sufficiency inspired me; how grateful I am that he gave up six years in the prime of his life to serve in the armed services and protect this country from tyranny and horror, by playing his small background part, for no other reason than it was the right thing to do.
And on Saturday I was able to say again that I loved him. I wanted to tell him that whatever happens I know I'll see him again soon. And if it wasn't in this life, then he should know I'd never forget him until I saw him again. But I couldn't speak past the lump in my throat, so I gripped his good hand tightly and muttered a prayer, kissed him on the forehead and left.