With my dad, Truman Wallem

It’s been three years since anyone has called me Mouse, and I miss it.

Like a lot of people, I have a love-hate relationship with the little gray rodents. Lori, one of Mike’s fellow staffers at First Baptist, posted a simple note on Facebook recently about going downstairs to do laundry in her bare feet and almost stepping on a mouse. I was tickled by the torrent of comments that followed. It seems everyone has a mouse story.

 And I do too. One of my most vivid memories from childhood was slipping under the covers of my unmade bed one bone-chilling night only to find a tiny mouse warming herself. I don’t know who got out of that bed faster – her or me – but I can tell you that at least one of us learned a lesson. (I pull the covers up to this day. Most of the time.)

As I grew up, I often studied at the kitchen table in our hundred-year-old farmhouse. It was a great distraction from prepping for tests to watch mice pop their heads out of our four-burner stove, sort of like Whack-a-Mole at the county fair. With a dozen or more farm cats on the premises it’s not that we didn’t have professional rodent-control, but Mickey, Minnie and their brood preferred the heated house to the barn and kept us hilariously entertained.

 Mike and I lived in southern New Hampshire when our kids were small. One evening I opened the door to the attic stairs in our bungalow to find a mouse on the landing. Startled, the little guy streaked across the dining room floor where our son Adam, age 5, lay reading a book. The mouse ran right over Adam’s stomach and past Joshua the cat, who flicked not a whisker in protest.

The late missionary Amy Carmichael related a great mousecapade from her own childhood in Ireland: “Ours was a happy home and a religious one, and we were called daily to family prayers by the sound of a bell. Once I found a mouse drowning in a pail of water just at the moment the prayer bell rang. Not willing that any should perish – not even a mouse – I snatched it out and put it in the pocket of my pinafore as I scurried to join the family for prayer. I prayed the mouse would not squeak and betray me. It did.”

So why am I taking time to write a blog post about mice that few will ever read and that matters to no one but me?

It’s because I miss the one who called me Mouse.

It was my dad’s special nickname for me, and it fit. I was always small for my age, quiet (can you believe it?) and painfully shy. I’m no longer small (I wish!), or quiet (Lord, put Your hand over my mouth), and being shy is a social luxury I can no longer afford. So when Dad died on a heart-shattering November day three years ago, the name went with him.

When Mike and I visited ancient Corinth this past summer, I thought of the words of the Apostle Paul to the Corinthians: “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect.” (1 Cor. 10:15 NLT).

 These days I keep a china mouse on my desk at work. It reminds me whom I once was, and who I’m not anymore.

And that’s reason enough.

How about you? Is there something in your life that is symbolic of whom you once were, or who you are now?