He came to live in the old house out of necessity on a cold, wet night. It was empty except for a few dusty canning jars and old clothes. He made it his home for the winter, and being a field mouse, he planned to move on when spring came.
Then the little old lady moved in. She came with boxes, dishes, some furniture,and things that indicated she was going to make the house her home too. He resented her presence and tried to make her as miserable as possible by chewing on papers and leaving droppings on the kitchen cabinets. The ill will she felt for him was obvious too whenever she chased him with the broom. She even began leaving rat poison out in places where he was sure to poke around.
His attitude toward her began to change somewhat as time passed, and he found that the balls of thread and the books and papers she had brought with her to the house made excellent bedding materials. Sometimes he peered around the doorway and watched as she flicked a tiny steel hook back and forth and something lacy and soft was made from the threads. He watched as she went to the front door and looked out across the road to the house that had been her home for so many years before. She told the story aloud to herself: she had cared for both her mother and her father there in the big house. Then she would sigh and say, "It's what Papa wanted." She went back to her chair and picked up the hook and thread again; she let it drop onto her lap and hid her face in her hands and sobbed. Her shoulders shook for only a while. She wiped her eyes and picked up the work.
The mouse soon learned that she was a very caring person. If people needed help, she did what she could for them. When company came to her door, they seldom left without something, either a piece of her handiwork or a bottle of sweet smelling perfume. Her nieces and nephews became her children.
As the years passed, the woman stopped chasing the mouse with the broom. He even teased her by running across her bed in broad daylight. She merely scolded him and told him not to do that when she had company. He watched her as she aged and knew her mind did not react as quickly as before. But then, neither did his. She had started to work with larger thread now; her eyesight was failing. It was soft, fuzzy yarn and she made stack upon stack of crocheted squares. She put them together into lovely, warm afghans and laid them, one upon the other, on the back of her couch. She seemed to glow whenever she showed them to her guests, and with much love, she gave an afghan to some very fortunate person.
When she reached the age of eighty years, the woman stopped driving and put away the keys to her car. Now she became dependent on someone else to take her to church or to town. Her world grew smaller. Each day she picked up the yarn it looked more blurred than it had the time before. The mouse noticed that she didn't open the chest drawers as often. She only stuffed things in now and then and never took anything out. He snipped bits and pieces of the soft yarn and carried them to cushion his bed. He was aging too. It was becoming more difficult for him to find food because she cooked very little. She crocheted one last square, and rather than compromise the quality of her work for quantity, she put away the steel hook. Using the excuse of being lazy, she covered up the fact that she could no longer see well enough to catch the yarn in a loop. It seemed that a part of her pride went then too.
Life around her became somewhat unreal as she reached the age of 92. It was evident to family members that she didn't always know them. Her condition worsened and she had to be cared for like a little child. And then one night the long journey of life was over for the woman.
As some members of her family sorted through a lifetime of memories, there in a drawer, on a soft mat of shredded paper and yarn, lay a mouse. His journey had ended too.
In loving memory of Great-aunt Inez