Mouse in the House
SUNY Jefferson
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Mouse in the House

Margot C. Jacoby

“Something smells dead, like a mouse,” I informed Doug, my husband. I opened the closet door in our master bedroom and smelled the odor more intensely. “Phew, it’s coming from in here,” I detected, pointing to my side of the closet.

“I can’t smell anything,” was his response.

“You will.”

And he did.

“We need to pull everything from the floor of the closet,” was his suggestion.

So we did: loose shoes, boxed shoes, totes, and at the end of my side of the closet were things of Martha’s I was saving to go through. There was a box of some of her treasures, labeled “SAVE” and her big stand-up jewelry box. I was hoping my youngest daughter or sister could go through them with me, but now was the time to do it, after we figured out the source of the stench.

“Okay, Margot,” I told myself, “try to make this fun!” Martha is my eldest child and daughter who passed away twelve years ago after a four-month horrendous ordeal with Stage 4 renal cancer. Life since then hasn’t been the same.

Doug went through his things and discovered that a mouse, or mice, left seeds in his fleece slippers. The mouse also helped itself to some of the fleece. Doug tossed the slippers into the trash and put the rest of his things back into his side of the closet.

While he did that I pulled an sheet out of the linen closet and placed it over the bedspread of our guest bed, where our girls used to sleep in the same room. I placed Martha’s saved box that further read “MPP~ save for 2012” on the bed and put her jewelry box on the dresser next to the bed. That was all I could do for one day. It is now January 3, 2022.

The next day I dared to open the jewelry box: the top opens like a grand piano. Out flew grey, yellow, and white feathers from Martha’s beloved cockatiel, Sunshine. Sunshine was a present from me on her thirteenth birthday. She was ready for a serious pet and she was a bird lover. She picked out this particular bird, and the bird picked her. She took very good care of it throughout the years. The bird loved Martha and she liked to roost on her head when Martha let her out of her cage. I laughed out loud as I became engulfed in its feathers. That was enough for the second day.

For the following days I allowed myself to go through more jewelry without it becoming a tedious chore, or too sad. Most of the pieces either made me smile or chuckle. I recalled giving her several pieces, and knew which ones came from my mother and other family members. Some date back to when she first started wearing jewelry, at the age of seven. Martha loved being a Brownie and later, a Girl Scout, and she considered earned badges and star pins, treasures. When she was eleven, she was allowed to get her ears pierced and she collected little creature posts, like ladybugs, frogs, and the like. Very elemental. Some of the jewelry was costume jewelry from Gran, my Mom, which she loved to wear while playing “dress-up.” It took a while to find matches to earrings, and after careful inspection I found most of the mates.

Then I sorted the jewelry accordingly: pins, charms, bracelets, rings, earrings, and a watch. Lastly, the miscellaneous things, like Girl Scout badges and pins. She held onto everything since she was quite young. Each and every piece has its own special story. Very sweet Martha. Thank you for the memories. Again.

This continued for about a week. After things were sorted out, I methodically place things back, thinking of sharing most of the jewelry with Maggie and my four granddaughters. They would enjoy the earrings when they are old enough to have pierced ears and learn to take good care of jewelry and such. I knew Matt and Perla would appreciate a few pieces that I would give them when I see them again. I know better than to mail anything since it could get lost. I saved some things for myself, to help me smile like so many of her belongings that I have kept do.

By the time I completed going through the contents of the box of treasures and jewelry box, the smell of the dead mouse dissipated. I did not put them back in my closet, but left them out to share with others. Within six months I had given a few things to my son and his family, and soon after that to my youngest daughter when she and her family visited us. Maggie was really happy to see some things she had given her sister, and a couple of pieces Martha apparently borrowed from Maggie. We had a good laugh over that. Thank you, Martha, and mouse.