As is usual for my Sunday afternoons, I went to see my Granddad at the residential home, where he has been for the past 20 months. We were all aware that his condition was slowly deteriorating and that eventually, his innings of 91 years would come to a close.
I arrived there with my dad, both there to support the other and we were told that the carers were changing his bedding. So we sat in the hall and waited for a few minutes, passing the time with idle chit-chat. Before going in to see him, we were warned gently by one of the girls there that he had taken a turn for the worse and that he was just staring into space, unresponsive. I had seen him that way last Sunday, so I knew that the end was getting nearer.
We stood by his bedside, my hand on his shoulder, dad's hand in granddad's, as the elder Coop struggled to breathe. Yes, it was upsetting, I make no bones about the emotion shown there and then, but I have come to accept over the past few months that this day would eventually come to pass.
Noting in the visitor book that dad's sister had been in to visit this morning, we made our way home, less talkative than usual - what can you say at a time like that, anyway?
Dad tries to call his sister, with no answer, just to give her an update, while I put the kettle on. As we settle down for a cup of tea at just gone 3pm, the phone goes and dad goes to answer, thinking it will be his sister, returning his call. No, it was the home, saying that granddad had slipped away peacefully.
We were at his bedside not half an hour before the end. He waited for us to come and see him, in a way. At times like this, I am very thankful to have a massive core of friends, who are willing to do nothing less than support me, because I don't want to burden the family any more than necessary. It helps to spread the load and get whatever needs to come off my chest out there.
I'm a lucky man - I've said it before - to have reached 30 and still have 2 grandparents left. Now that I have just one, I don't feel that I'm any less lucky, as I have lived with all four of them at one stage or another of my life and have had good times and bad with all (some more than others, but I'm not here to dwell on that)
He will always be my favourite grandparent. I don't know why, I can't explain it. He always had a soft spot for me and the feeling was more than mutual. I shall miss him dearly and though I shall feel particularly at a loss next Sunday, when I would usually be seeing him, I also feel proud to have been able to call him my grandfather.
If anyone can bring a smile to my face, by mentioning "James & The Giant Peach", it will always be the enduring memory of his reading of chapter 1, when the description of grandma reads "and she had a small puckered up mouth, like a dog's bottom." For the entire afternoon of my 6th birthday, he sat in the armchair and chorlted his way through the celebrations, unable to read any more. It's these little details that make life so interesting, don't you agree?
RIP, granddad. I will miss you. Forever in my heart, you helped me become the man I am.