MOUSE: A Morality Tail

Once upon a time there was a mouse (and that time was lately)

Who lived inside my house (in my office to be exact).

Whose home was an aquarium that contained a squeaky wheel. Fortunately, she slept most of the day except when, almost telepathically, she seemed to know when I was going to feed her!

We never did come up with a name for her. We tried out a few. We thought of: House Mouse, Barracks Mouse, Mouselicious (suggested by a cat), Stinky (no explanation needed), and a few others. We couldn’t decide. So, she was always just plain old Mouse.

Mouse wasn’t terribly tame. She was semi-wild when we got her. Never really handled her but she still would respond to us. Mainly, we enjoyed watching her, most of the time, doing her crazy mouse thing. She would make us angry when she made irritating noises in the middle of the night running on the wheel or chewing on the lid to the aquarium. Occasionally, she could be distracting at  inopportune times during the day as well. Overall, though, we enjoyed her and would talk to her during the day when she was awake.

The real story was how she ended up in our home in the first place. It was intriguing because of it’s sheer improbability. That tale began at a barracks of a nearby army base. A young soldier, waiting to be deployed to Afghanistan, found a small, immature (almost totally white) mouse inside the barracks. Rather than kill the mouse, (which is what some of his barracks mates likely would have done) he caught it and he put it outside. The next day he found it in his room once more. He put it outside again. The next day the mouse was back inside. At that point, because he was afraid of what would happen if the other soldiers found it, he decided that he would keep it himself.

The home that he prepared for the mouse was a shoebox. A shoebox is not a great way to secure a mouse but the mouse seemed happy with the arrangement. She didn’t wander very far. So, that arrangement worked out for awhile. Finally, it came his time for the soldier to be deployed overseas and fulfill his calling as a warrior for his country.

When that time came, he became very anxious about the mouse! He was worried about her welfare. While he was looking for solutions to this dilemma, he remembered my son. As it turned out, my son, who is not a soldier, had friends whom he visited in the same squad at the same barracks. Because my son knew him, this soldier approached Gerrit about taking the mouse home with him.  He wanted to make sure that Mouse was cared for. My son, who is soft-hearted when it comes to animals, agreed to take Mouse.

He already had two rescue rabbits (which I now care for because he can’t keep them where he lives). So Mouse came home. When Mouse first came home she lived with my son in his office (and bedroom) while his wife (a soldier) was deployed to South Korea. Cheryl, his wife, hates mice. So, when Gerrit and Cheryl set up housekeeping together at college when she left the army, I inherited Mouse.  I had Mouse for about half a year. Mouse died while we were away visiting our other son in North Carolina. (We had left her in the charge of a competent mouse sitter). It wasn’t an untimely death. Mouse was probably more than three years old when she passed away. That is a very full life for a small mouse whose life was filled with adventures (perhaps more so than most mice?)

After Mouse died I stopped to reflect. Why had all of this happened? It started with the discovery of an adolescent mouse at an Army barracks. That barracks was filled with highly trained soldiers from a division that has fought almost continually for the last ten years in either Iraq and Afghanistan. So, the story begins with a highly-trained combat soldier, about to go to war, who was concerned about the welfare of a white mouse!

What does this soldier do? He saves a white mouse! To add to the irony, Mouse was probably a “feeder” mouse that escaped from a snake owner who planned to feed it to his pet! Because of this concern on the part of a deploying soldier,  Mouse lived for about an additional three years and ended up having two additional caretakers (my son and myself) to ensure that it had a comfortable and eventful life! All this for a “feeder” mouse whose most likely destined to be snake food. (Maybe “Snake Food” would have been a good name for Mouse or, perhaps, “Lucky?)

Little house Mouse, I complained about her and her stinky cage being in my office and having to take care of her! I did enjoy watching her antics. And, now, I miss her! Every time I walk into the room to work I still expect to see her. I enjoyed talking to her. I wish I had her here to watch and to complain about! I’m sad that she’s gone. Mouse was my main rodent!

The other day, ironically, as I was rolling out the snow blower to clear off the driveway, a mouse jumped out from underneath it. It ran back into the garage with me chasing it. I tried hard to keep it from getting into my house! It was the same kind of mouse except for the fact the color was very dark, almost black. It was a wild, furry version of Mouse! To put it in perspective, it’s the same kind of creature that prompts me to put out poison baits in the garage, cellar and attic. Where we live, if we didn’t try to control them, the rodents would soon overrun my property. Even with my efforts, they’re still a nuisance.

In this world of contradictions, you can add the story of a mouse. Starting with a soldier, trained to kill and destroy, who finds it in his heart to protect and care for a little white mouse that probably was intended to be snake food anyway. Add to that people, like me and my son, caring for a little whitish mouse while poisoning her cousins that come in out of the cold for the winter (and then decide to stay permanently). We are filled with inconsistencies. We have the urge to protect and preserve and we also find the need to kill and destroy. We’ve become almost casual about killing. It appears to be connected to our drive for self-preservation!

What does that say about us? What does it reveal about how we view the the world in which we live? Is this how we must cope with the challenges in our lives? Are we basically peace-loving, or, are we cold, calculating, bloodthirsty beings?. Or, are we both?  I try to understand but I don’t. I’m another  imperfect person in a world filled with calculated acts of violence and wonderful acts of charity! I’m both hopeful and dismayed. I’m contemplating all of this and I probably will for the rest of my life.

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