At 1 o'clock Saturday morning, I picked up a phone message on my mobile (which is still permanently on silent, otherwise I might have been aware of the phone ringing earlier on that night). It was my mother, informing me that a relative of mine had died. Chances are it was a heart attack, according to what's been ascertained so far.
It's not a personal loss for me, I'm not sad, as such: the person in question wasn't someone I knew all that well, nor had I had seen him for a very long time.
It has given me pause for reflection though: from what I do know and remember of him, he was a decent bloke - well liked, and rightly so. Nevertheless I feel - and this may sound odd - that I owe thanks to him for something that was of crucial importance to me, but which was made possible quite inadvertently by him: as a result of his own ill-health, in fact.
I've previously described the situation at length, so I won't repeat myself: but this was the relative who was in hospital (following a major operation) at the same time that my dad was in his final days in the hospice on the same site. In short, his presence there meant that, during the visit described here, my mother went to go and spend some time with him - and I got to have essential time alone with my father the last time I ever saw him.
I'm not sure how it sounds, remembering someone effectively for something they couldn't help, indeed for something they would rather not have been going through in the first place. It certainly isn't intended to diminish him in any way, far from it. But although I never knew him very well, I realise he'll always be connected in my memory to the most poignant experience I've ever had - and for that, I'll always be grateful.