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阿公,我想你會很喜歡小莉的。如果你不介意,我可以麻煩她去陪你嗎?這樣,在我還沒去天上跟你會合前,至少還有小莉可以陪你。小莉走之前,我有答應過她,我會盡我所能來幫助其他的小動物。這個攝影展就是為她辦的!所以阿公請你答應我,開幕那天,你要帶小莉來看喔!我會在沙發上留一個位子給你們的。

文圖 Story & Picture ─ 許維恕 Jenny Hsu

 

親愛的阿公,

你在天上好嗎?這十幾年來,發生了好多事情。我大學畢業了,也念了研究所了。現在回到台灣,在一家報社上班,過得還算愜意,所以請你不用擔心我。雖然好久沒有見面了,我還是常常想到你,尤其是在面臨一些重大決定時,我都會想─這樣做,阿公會以為我為榮嗎?

最近我又特別思念你了。因為我跟朋友們要辦一個流浪動物攝影展,我們希望透過這個活動能讓更多人體會愛護小動物的重要。其實,我只要想到愛狗,第一個一定就會想到你。我想到小時後回苑裡過暑假時,每天早上都會看到你戴著斗笠、扛著鋤頭、穿著雨鞋、帶著歐莉和老瑪莉去下田。小黑狗歐莉總是跑在你前面,但全身毛都打結的老瑪莉就是乖乖地走在你身旁;你回來吃中餐時,兩隻狗也休息,而你三不五時都會提醒阿嬤要餵狗。你坐在藤椅上,挺著大圓肚喥估,狗狗們也在一旁睡大覺。雖然我從來沒看你抱過她們,更別說幫她們穿衣服、讓她們睡毛毯這種事,但我看得出來你對他們的尊重。她們是你的好朋友、好搭擋跟好哥兒們。

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我記得我們搬去美國不到一年,小姑就打來說老瑪莉死掉了。那時我四年級,我記得我哭得好傷心,心疼我的瑪麗,但也心疼我的阿公。心想這下子誰要陪阿公去種田?阿公晚上去隔壁聊天喝茶時,誰要陪阿公走路回來?

你不在的這幾年,老爸老媽也陸陸續續養了好幾隻狗,他們全都是撿回來的,其中一隻叫小莉,是老媽在工業區某一家工廠帶回來的。厚,阿公啊!不是我在吹牛的,那個小莉真的是世界上最好的狗啦!超級聽話又貼心,老媽去後山散步時,小莉都跟緊緊地在保護她;老爸在院子割草時,她也在旁邊陪著;哥哥小孩年幼時跟她玩,她也是很有耐心地讓他摸。她把整個社區都顧得好好的,在我們家奉獻了十六年的時光呢!我每次從美國打電話回家,最後一個問題一定是─「我的狗呢?」只要老媽說狗狗都很好,我就可以開心一整天。

小莉在地球上的最後一年身體情況很不好,走路很困難,也常常尿失禁。她好像知道自己很臭,所以每看到我們回來,雖然很想來迎接我們,但頭總是低低的,好像很不好意思自己身上的尿騷味。拜託,我才不管!我還是照樣地抱她親她。在最後的幾個月裡,她連抬個頭都很吃力,我在她耳邊說:「小莉,沒關係,你累了就去吧!我會沒事的。」 老媽也跟她說我們在後山準備了一個special place要讓她長眠,從那個地方,她可以顧到院子,也可以看到房子,而且又不會有人去打擾她⋯⋯

阿公,我想你會很喜歡小莉的。如果你不介意,我可以麻煩她去陪你嗎?這樣,在我還沒去天上跟你會合前,至少還有小莉可以陪你。小莉走之前,我有答應過她,我會盡我所能來幫助其他的小動物。這個攝影展就是為她辦的。所以阿公請你答應我,開幕的那天,你要帶小莉來看喔!我會在沙發上留一個位子給你們的。

維恕 敬上

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Dear Grandpa,

How is life in heaven? Since you have been gone, many things have happened. I graduated from college and even managed to finish graduate school. Currently, I work for a newspaper. Life has its ups and downs, but I am doing all right. So please don’t worry about me. Although you have been away for almost two decades, you are still often on my mind. At times of important decisions, I always ask myself, if I do this, would Grandpa be proud of me?

In the last few months, I have missed you more than ever and it is because my friends and I have decided to hold a photo exhibit to highlight the issue of Taiwan’s stray animals. We hope through this project, more people can learn to appreciate the value of animals. In fact, each time I think of dogs, your face comes to mind. Memories of all those summers spent in the countryside come flooding back. I remember watching you getting up at the crack of dawn, with the straw hat on your head, a shovel on your back, and rain boots on your feet, you would go survey the rice paddies while taking your two dogs — Ollie and Mally. Ollie was the young black one who always charged ahead of you while mangy Mally, although so old and fragile, stayed closely by your side. When you came home for lunch, the dogs took a break too. You often reminded Grandma to feed the dogs even though she always remembered. When you and your big round belly dozed off on the wicker chair, those two dog slept at your feet. You were never affectionate with them, let alone putting them in outfits or making them a bed out of blankets, but I could tell you respected them. They were your buddies, your partners, and your highly esteemed pals for life.

I remember the phone call from Little Auntie shortly after we moved to the U.S. when she broke the news of Mally’s passing. I was only fourth grade but I cried so hard. I mourned for Mally but most of all, I was heartbroken for you. Who was going to accompany you to the rice paddies? When you go the neighbors for your evening tea and chats, who would walk you home?

Since you’ve been away, Mom and Dad have had several dogs throughout the years. All of them were either adopted or rescued. One of them was a dog that Mom got from a nearby factor owner. Mom named the dog Hsiao Li, but I always liked calling her Lily.

Grandpa, I am not kidding you when I say Lily was the world’s great dogs! She was so obedient and so thoughtful.

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Whenever Mom went hiking, Lily would be right next to her. She always stayed in the yard when Dad mowed the lawn. Lily never got upset with your great grandson (my nephew) pulled and tugged on her. She spent her 16 years as the protector of the community. Whenever I called home from the U.S., my last question was always about the dogs. It made me smile the entire day just to hear Mom say the dogs were doing just fine.

During Lily’s last year on earth, her health deteriorated fast. She had a hard time walking and even lost control of her bladder. I think she knew that she a bit stinky because each time we came home, although she was really eager to greet us, she kept her head bowed as if she was embarrassed about her stench. Of course I didn’t care about how she smelled. I still showered her with hugs and kisses. In the last few months of her life, she barely had the strength to hold her head up. I would softly whisper to her, “it’s alright Lily. If you are too tired, then it’s ok to leave. I will be fine.” Mom also reassured her that we have prepared a special place for her long slumber. From that spot, Lily can see the main house while keeping an eye on the garden. It is also a place where she won’t be bothered.

Hey Grandpa, you know, I have feeling you and Lily will get along really well. If you don’t mind, can I trouble her to take care of you until we meet again? Before Lily left, I gave her my word that I will do everything I can do help more animals. In fact, she is the inspiration for this exhibit. So Grandpa, please promise me that on the day of the opening, you will bring Lily to check out the exhibit. I will save a place on the couch for you two.

Love you always,

Jenny

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