• Vanessa Peng

my grandma's fifth child.

Taiwan is special, it is a small autonomous island off the coast of China filled to the brim with culture and all the people I love. I am ecstatic each time I get to go back and visit extended family members that I rarely get to see. From using Taipei's Metro System to exploring rural night markets, I really get to experience it all in Taiwan. Taking a break from being tourists, we would then drive down the coast and make our way to Wanluan, my mother's hometown. She still knows the way back home. After large expanses of betel nut fields and a crowded street selling Wanluan's famous pig trotters, we stop at a three-way intersection with the local police station situated directly across from us. An immediate right brings us home to the small, family-owned pharmacy.

The Taipei Metro

One summer trip back, probably back when I was still in middle school, we arrived at the pharmacy like any other year. The familiar smell of all sorts of medicines still clung to the air. There were piles of betel nuts thrown on the ground still attached to their branches, waiting to be sorted. The red tiles lining the path to the living area in the back of the store were still there as well. Even the green ottoman with the rather itchy fabric sat in the same spot as I had last left it. However, there was a new member in the household that I had yet to meet. I soon learned that his name was Dodo, and he had already established himself as my grandma's fifth child.

My Grandparents' Place

The origins of Dodo are still unknown to me, he walked himself into the pharmacy and made himself right at home. He was already quite old when I first met him, he reminded me of a person in his late 30s, who already knew his place in life. Dodo knew the area well, always going out in the morning to do his business, and not coming back home until dinner time, when he would occasionally indulge in my grandpa's sausage fried rice. He was a busy dog, he had things to do and people to meet. He once had a meeting with a cat, but I guess the meeting did not go as planned because he came back home without his right eye. Dodo became a prominent figure in the community, the dog with the missing eye, a snaggletooth and a slight limp. However, this did not stop my grandma from calling him the world's handsomest dog and most importantly, her favorite child.

The Favorite Child

Dodo was definitely a family dog. My grandparents always came first to him, especially my grandma. My grandma has issues with her back and can't walk very well without support. Yet, still the stubborn and independent woman that she is, she often times refuses the support, instead relying on a pink, plastic school and Dodo. Whenever my grandma stood up, Dodo would immediately run to stand by her side, even if that meant coming out from the cool shadows and into the blazing sun. He followed her, making sure she got to her destination safely. He would sit outside the bathroom door when my grandma was showering, protecting her at all costs. No wonder he was the favorite child.

I don't live with Dodo, most of the anecdotes that I hear about him are when my grandma calls me to brag about him. One of the funnier anecdotes was when she had to call me to report a missing eye on her child. However, most of the stories that I have heard about him were about his perseverance to keep my grandma safe. When my grandma tripped in the shower, Dodo was there to immediately alert my grandpa that something bad had happened to her. Dodo protected my grandma, and she was always thankful for that.

A Family Dog

Dodo passed away last December. He was an old dog, and his health was not getting any better. I didn't get to see him for one last time during the summer because I had to rush back and prepare for the grueling college application process. I didn't know that it would be the last time that I would see him. My grandma called me a few weeks after his passing, and her love for Dodo was prominent. Even in his last moments, Dodo still wanted to protect my grandma. She told him that it was okay for him to leave first, and that they will meet again one day. After hearing this, Dodo was finally able to pass away peacefully.

Dodo really was part of our family. Although all of us only saw him once per year, he would still remember us and would be the first to run out of the pharmacy to greet us. He was a spoiled dog, always getting away with things because he was my grandma's favorite. He was also smart, and understood all the languages that we talked to him in. Above all, he was cherished. He walked into the pharmacy out of nowhere, but he somehow was able to fit perfectly in with the unruly cousins, the passionate siblings, and last but not least, the kindhearted old couple.

See You Later

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