Apparently, my Granddad is much better than he was. He had a second operation last week, to help address the fact that his chest was infected, and his breast-bone wasn’t healing. And now, the infection is clearing, and the bone is healing, and he’s a great deal chirpier than he was. So I’m glad.

The difficulty I have with all this, is that my information is coming from two sources. When my Dad rings, he gives me the optimistic version – he’s had the operation, he’s healing, everything’s going to be fine. When my Mum, whose information is coming through my Dad’s sister, Janice, tells me, it all sounds much blacker – he’s very weak, he’s refusing to eat, he’s back in intensive care again, etc, etc.

It’s difficult to know who to believe. I think my Dad is determined not to worry about him. Almost doggedly, bloody-mindedly determined. He’s always tended to take the optimistic stance, and not worry about things until they happen, but his father underwent heart surgery at the age of eighty, and he only seems to hear the positive stuff. It’s like he’s filtering out anything that he doesn’t want to hear, and that goes beyond optimistic into rather less healthy territory.

Maybe I should ditch my phobia of hospitals, and go visit him myself. That would at least clear a few things up.

But I’m a bit frightened of what I’d find, so I’m not likely to do that.

I do drive past Broadgreen at irregular intervals, and experience guilt for getting so close, but not going in. Mostly, it’s ten o’clock at night, and they wouldn’t let me in, but that’s not really the point, is it?

He’s an old man, though, isn’t he? They don’t last forever. Old people die at the slightest provocation, that’s my most significant lesson of the year. In my family, though, they seem to do it suddenly. They don’t fade away, becoming iller and weaker until they just fail to get out of the chair. They go full pelt for eighty years, then stop. Dead. Literally.

It’s better that way. From their point of view, it’s certainly better – less painful, less frustrating. Less watching them fade away. Having seen how utterly without warning it can happen, though, I’m tempted to wish for some time to prepare. I’m very selfish that way.