“The soul is healed by being with children.”
– Dostevsky –
It is one of my favorite paintings by Harry Anderson and I love many of his paintings. While he primarily painted religious themes he is known for other paintings with touching and timeless themes. This painting is named “A Way With Boys”. We are to understand that this little boy is very sick . . . and under the care of his grandmother. She hoped that by surprising him with his pet mouse who lives in a matchbox, she might be able to cheer him up or at the least, distract him from his cares. It is easy to see that even that gesture of love by his grandmother could not overcome how tired and sickly the young boy felt.
For Christmas I wrote a tiny story called “The Comfort Mouse”. This little mouse became a friend to every child whose bed he lived under. Each of my little grandchildren read a version of the story that was about a special girl or a special boy. The little story was very short . . . just two tall pages which I laminated and put together with a small ring. Each child received a mouse who had a matchbox to live in, a soft ” minky” blanket and a tea light to read by after everyone had gone to sleep. The hands of children love small, soft things. Whether a grandchild is a boy or a girl . . . I have found that it doesn’t matter. All were all fascinated by the idea of their own special “comfort mouse” living right under their bed, especially a mouse that could talk to them.
“Things that were hard to bear are sweet to remember.”
p.s. When I was a young child, I went to my grandmother’s house when I had childhood illnesses. My mother tried, mostly in vain, to keep my much younger siblings from contacting mumps, measles and chicken pox by asking her mother to care for me. I loved to be at my grandmother’s house even when I didn’t feel well. She was just like the grandmother in the painting. Her sheets were crisp and white. Her house was warm and quiet and her desk clock chimed on every hour . . . a familiar and comforting consistency. She thought of things to distract me . . . especially when I was very ill with the mumps. This painting touches my heart and the idea of a “comfort mouse” seems like a pretty good idea for a grandmother to remember.