Ask Amy: Mom swiped an item: What do we do now?

September 23, 2013 

Dear Amy: About every other year, my mother travels across the country to visit my husband and me.

While she was visiting us last week, we took her to an event with some friends. Toward the end of the evening, I saw my mother browsing in the gift shop at the venue where the event was held. I watched her pick up an item for sale. She held the item behind her purse and then went into the bathroom. When she came out the item was no longer with her.

I could not believe what I saw. The next day I looked in her purse, and the item was in there. I know for a fact she did not pay for it.

My mother is 75 and in good health.

I did not say anything at the time, and now she has returned home, and it is really bothering me. Should I say anything to her about this, or should I just leave it alone?

— Shocked daughter

Dear Shocked: The time to have spoken up was while your mother was with you. At least you could have held up the item in question and said, "J'accuse, Mother!" and received some sort of explanation.

This also would have given you the opportunity to at least try to determine whether your mother is absent-minded, suffering from some sort of age-related cognitive disorder (shoplifting is one symptom) or a fully functioning unrepentant kleptomaniac.

You should definitely discuss this, but first you should listen to what she has to say about the trip; the moment to raise this may present itself organically, in which case she will be more receptive to talking about it. Otherwise, yes, you'll have to express your shock and try to figure out what is going on with her (from a distance).

I think it is time for you to plan to visit your mother at her home to see more clearly how she is really doing.

Dear Amy: The letter from "At a Loss" sure got my attention. When I read the way this woman ("Karen") acted toward a married man in public, with his wife in the room, my eyebrows shot up so fast they were in danger of hitting the ceiling. It is despicable that the letter writer is even considering asking his wife to apologize to Karen. If he is putting a near-stranger's feelings and dignity above his wife's, then his wife has some hard thinking to do.

— Indignant in Edmonton

Dear Indignant: Many readers shared your reaction. Thank you all.


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