(Traditional Chinese Medicine)
Craig laughed at Arthur's expression. "Oh, look at you! I was only kidding. Don't look so worried." While Arthur and Craig were exchanging pleasantries, Autumn and Charles entered the private room.
They were amazed at the sight of their grandfather's friend. He was old, with grey hair and a goatee. But more than that, he looked to be someone not of the human race, they thought. He looked rather immortal, which was stunning.
In television serials, immortals always seemed to be surrounded by enchanting mist, like they were floating. That was how Craig seemed to the couple. Seeing Autumn and Charles enter, Arthur immediately got up and introduced them to Craig. "This is my granddaughter, Autumn Zhao, and my grandson-in-law, Charles Lu."
Arthur gave Autumn a fatherly pat on the hand and turned to look at Craig.
"Autumn, Charles, meet Craig Xiao, a very good friend of mine. You better call him 'Grandpa Craig'," he said with a twinkle in his eyes.
Autumn flashed a wide smile. "Grandpa Craig, it is nice to meet you." Charles, who stood beside his wife, echoed her greetings. Just as they were sitting, the door to the private room opened again. And Autumn was surprised to see a familiar face.
The young man looked a bit flushed, and apologized. "Grandpa, sorry I am late." It was Anthony, whom Autumn had run into twice already before his appearance now. She was surprised but pleased to see him again.
"Come, come. Let me introduce you to everyone," Craig said. He pulled his grandson by the hand and said happily, "This is my friend Arthur Zhao. We have known each other for years." Anthony bowed in greeting for Arthur. "And these two are his granddaughter and grandson-in-law…"
They all laughed. Anthony again fell silent but continued to stare at Autumn.
He was thinking, 'I've never met anyone with such pure and innocent eyes. If she wasn't already married, I think I would fall for her.'
He could not help but be affected by her cheerful attitude and bright smile.
A soft knock on the door shook him from his thoughts. Everyone stopped talking and turned to see who was at the door. A waitress came in to start serving. When she left, Arthur poured a glass of wine for Craig. Anthony was quick to frown and warned, "I'm sorry Grandpa Arthur. But my grandfather has quit drinking. He's been suffering from hypertension in the last few years."
"Oh, I'm fine. Stop worrying, Anthony," Craig admonished. Looking at the group, he explained, "I am glad to see my old friend Arthur. Surely, a little wine will not affect my health."
He turned to his friend and complained, "Look at him. He's acting as if he were older than me, and not like a grandson. I may be the grandfather but he is very strict about every aspect of my life. And he's a disciplinarian even when we're not at home."
Anthony was quick to defend himself. "That's because you lack self-discipline.
If you showed stronger self-control, you know I won't interfere," he told Craig. The two men looked each other in the eye.
Then Craig broke into an embarrassed smile. Everything his grandson said was true and he had no defense against it.
Still Anthony allowed Craig a few drinks and after three rounds, Arthur went straight to the point of the meeting.
"Craig, we've known each other for many years so I won't prolong this. I invited you here for two reasons. One, of course, is for old friends to reconnect again. The second is to ask you a favor."
Graig nodded in agreement. "We're old friends so there's no need to keep greetings long. What can I do for you, my friend?" he asked Arthur.
"Here's the thing…" Arthur began.
Autumn's grandfather explained what happened to her over the past weeks.
She was of course a bit upset and a frown creased her forehead. Anthony looked at Autumn worriedly after listening to Arthur's narration. He was particularly concerned. The words had escaped him before he knew what he was saying. "It's dangerous for you to give birth to this baby. You will put your life at risk." Anthony was confused. If Autumn's life was at stake, was it worth it to continue with the pregnancy?
Autumn acknowledged that she was aware of the risks. "The doctor I met a few days ago told me the consequences of my decision. But this baby…" She inhaled before continuing, "No matter what happens, I want to give birth to Charles' baby."
"But why?" Anthony could not help blurting out. He was full of questions. He thought, 'I don't understand. Why is she so determined to have this baby at the risk of her own life? Why is she being foolish?'
Anthony shuddered at the thought of Autumn dying while in labor, but it appeared she was ready to sacrifice her life for the child.
When he realized that Autumn had really made up her mind, Anthony turned to Charles and asked, "And you agree with her decision?" He was expecting for Charles to shake his head. If the husband supported his wife's decision, he would regard Charles as irresponsible and that Autumn deserved a better man.
"Of course I don't agree with it," Charles answered. He explained, "We all want for her to have an abortion. Once her health condition is treated, then we will have plenty of time to prepare for another baby. But Autumn absolutely refuses to give up this child. She is insisting on giving birth to it, and believes the first baby must be saved."
He looked down, sighed, and continued, "And since she is determined, I have to respect her decision."
Craig looked at his old friend, saw his dilemma, and understood his concern. "Arthur, we've known each other for a very long time. So I won't mince words and get to the point," Craig said. "Please my friend, just say it. However painful the truth, we will listen," Arthur prodded.
Arthur, Autumn, and Charles all turned to look at Craig. The old doctor glanced at Autumn first before speaking. "It's not right for your granddaughter to save this baby," he began. "The better option really is to get well then have another baby."
No one spoke a word. Charles shifted in his seat and held on to his wife's hand. Craig then looked at Autumn to try and talk sense into her. "My child, I don't mean to hurt you. But abandoning this baby is for your own good. You don't need to worry because I will take care of you. And with my help, I am hoping you will recover soon. So, your plan to have a baby will just be delayed for a little while."
But Autumn remained steadfast.
"Grandpa Craig, I appreciate your concern about my well-being. But I want this baby to live. And even if it costs me my life, I will not abandon it," she said clearly. Autumn knew Craig only meant well and he was giving sound advice as a physician, so she could not be angry with him.
"You foolish girl! Why are you so stubborn?" he said in exasperation. The old doctor and Autumn stared at each other, then he sighed. Craig felt sad for his friend because he believed it was not worth saving a life that would take away another.
Finally, Arthur spoke up. "There is no more need to talk about this." He forced a smile as he looked at Craig. "I will be grateful and will do anything to show my gratitude if you can persuade my granddaughter to change her mind. We have tried many times, but she is committed to protecting this baby. We are left with no other choice but to ask your help to strengthen her health using Traditional Chinese Medicine."
In his heart, Arthur was hoping it was the right choice. Craig remained quiet and hesitant, but was trying to figure out how to address this complicated condition.
His training and knowledge told him Autumn's condition was very bad. Before he could open his mouth, Anthony spoke up. "Why don't you go to my hospital tomorrow morning?" he suggested. Autumn looked confused. "What do you mean go to your hospital?" "For treatment," Anthony replied.
Although he was reluctant, and would rather have Autumn give up the baby, this was the better option for now since she resisted the advice to terminate the pregnancy. He would do his best to keep her safe and help her get better. Arthur, Charles, and Autumn looked to Craig to understand what was being proposed.
"That's right. My grandson has learned Traditional Chinese Medicine from me. And I'd say the student has become better than the teacher, and is now the master. He also took up Western medicine in university," Craig said proudly. He added, "His medical skills are so much better than mine." Craig clapped his grandson on the back. "Anthony will take very good care of Autumn. Don't you worry." Anthony's decision to take over the difficult task was unexpected but quite welcome for his grandfather. He had full faith in his capabilities as a doctor, although the others looked doubtful he was that competent because of his young age. So he would do the next best thing and put in a good word for Anthony.
Arthur was surprised to learn that Anthony became interested in what he thought to be boring Traditional Chinese Medicine. Besides, he didn't look like he was already an expert in it. It would be more credible if he said he was just a new graduate.
Craig read his friend's mind and gave assurance. "Trust me, my friend. There is no need to worry." To further convince Arthur, Craig related, "My grandson has been playing inside my medicine storeroom since he was a young boy. At five years old, he could identify all the herbs and even prescribe the proper medication to patients. And when he went to college, his medical skills outstripped mine." Craig could not mask his pride in his grandson. "Then he went to study Western medicine. So accept his offer to treat Autumn. And trust him. He will take good care of her so you do not need to worry."