the short life and death of my little brother (4) one final favour

Although he disliked the idea of an operation, Guy also wanted it, realising that he would be less "puffed". He was more afraid of the injections - he hated needles - than the operation itself. On Monday, September 11, 1967, he went into hospital for his operation proudly informing us that the surgeon who would perform it, was "the most importantest man in the hospital". He was to have his operation exactly a week later.

One day, when we were visiting him in hospital, we all went for a walk and my mother and I walked on . After little more than 50 yards, Guy turned to my father and said: "How serious is the operation, Daddy?" he was asking if he might die. It was a question my father had long expected, but which now him by surprise. His carefully-rehearsed speech was put and instead he replied: "In one way, is a very serious operation. In another, it's not serious at all. It's serious in that to operate on your heart, they've got to get right inside you. But the surgery involved is not serious at all."

Guy seemed and by the following day was telling my mother that his operation was a "titch" "compared with the kidney operation that my father's architect friend had undergone and recovered from. On my last day with Guy in the hospital, I pushed him so fast around the ward in a toy car that patients, parents and nurses alike jumped for . As I said an unemotional goodbye to him, I remember thinking that if I considered the possibility of him dying then he would not.

Guy was as well prepared for his operation physically and mentally as he could have been, and at peace with himself. He had secured an assurance from Sister Crump, his favourite nurse, that he could not wake up during an operation and even asked one final from her: "Will you visit me in the ward, just to make sure they are doing things ?" Sister Crump was touched and .