Vol. 10


Courage for Life

1960s; Chai Gou, Shandong Province, China

Back in the 1960s, in the old village where my dad lived, in China, they had their own traditions. Whenever someone was sick, they would light three incense sticks in front of Buddha, and pray for the sick person. They thought that someone became sick when ghosts were around them. Villages like his mostly avoided western medicine, like vaccines, even though a hospital was nearby to help. But my grandmother once stepped into her courage to save my father’s life, and ran to the hospital against her mother’s will. This story has traveled on for many years, from generation to generation.

Before my father was born, he had a brother. His brother had a sickness that caused his whole body to shake violently — a seizure. Incenses were lit, prayers were said — all in front of Buddha. But this couldn’t stop his life from seeping away into darkness, and eventually he died at just three months old. My grandmother grieved for him, even when my father was born. Traumatically, he too had the same sickness as his brother. His grandmother lit incense, prayed, and waited all over again.

My grandmother could not lose another son. She made a decision against her own traditions. She wrapped my father up in a blanket, stepped outside, and ran all the way to the hospital, about thirty minutes away by foot. Luckily a doctor sent from Beijing arrived to help this village. A medicine was given and, in a blink of the eye, the shaking stopped. My grandmother was relieved, and ran all the way back.

At the same time, her mother had called over other people to pray — then the door swung open, and in came my grandmother. Her mother was angry. “We called over these people, and you just ran away?!”

My grandmother swiftly replied, “Don’t you see? The sickness is cured!” At that news her parents became happy again, and so my father was able to grow up and become my dad.

My grandmother’s courage inspires me. Women didn’t have the same education as men, and they were expected to obey the older generations’ orders. Taking the courage to run to the hospital about three miles away with a child, and to accept western medicine, was not something easy to do. But because my grandmother wanted to save her child’s life, to see him grow up, she stepped out and took her courage to run to the hospital and accept western medicine. Because of my grandmother’s courage and open mind, my father grew up to have later generations. Without my grandmother, my father and I wouldn’t be alive today.

Jenny Fan; New Jersey, USA


This copyrighted story may be copied for limited classroom use or reprinted in an article about The Grannie Annie.


Return to Vol. 10 Stories page



Built by Hen's Teeth Network