About 5 years before my mother retired she asked if she could live with me. It was important to her to spend time with me because she missed time with me growing up. The first year that she lived with me I kept constant watch on her, worried there might be a sudden decline in health or that she might go through depression.
That first year my mom spent a lot of time in the house, and I worried. I’d heard that when people retire they get bored and start thinking of themselves as old. Then their health begins to decline or they get depressed because they are not as active as they used to be. I encouraged my mom to go for walks, go to the senior citizen center, meet other people her age and just do stuff.
One day I passed her bedroom on the way to my own room and noticed her standing at her window. She stared out into what could only be described as a cloudy and dreary day. She looked lost in thought and somewhat sad. I went on to my room, did what I needed to do ( I think I was doing laundry). About 20 or 30 minutes later, I walked back by to check on mom only to find her still standing at the window and looking out into the distance of a very gray day.
“Mom, are you okay?” I asked as I walked up beside her and looked out through the window with her.
“Yes, mí híja, I’m just thinking.” she sighed (Híja is what Latino mom’s call their daughters).
My heart sank a little. What was she thinking about? Was this the depression I’d read about?
“Sometimes I just have bad thoughts,” she said, never breaking her gaze from the window. “Sometimes I be driving around town, and I just want to do something bad, and I have to pray, mí híja, I have to pray.”
My mind started racing. What could she be thinking about? Is she depressed? Is she lonely? Does she need to move back to Atlanta where she has more family around her all of the time? Is she thinking of hurting herself?
“What do you want to do that you have to pray about, mom?” I braced myself for the worst possible answer and then she responded.
“Sometimes, mí híja, I be driving around and I see pretty flowers in the people’s yards. I just want to go into the yards and TAKE some flowers. Just some clippings.”
Stunned silence was my first response it took a few seconds staring and blinking to process that my mom wants to be a flower bandit. Of course after a few seconds laughter and relief followed.
Here I was worrying about the worst, and my mom had just been spending about an hour looking out into our bleak yard visualizing beautiful flowers . Flowers I guess she felt like she needed to steal even though flowers are pretty cheap at most big box stores in area. Maybe stolen clippings are more special.
I told her we could buy some flowers, but later I called a friend who had a beautiful yard. “Hey, if you ever see me run into your yard, clip a couple of flowers and run away, please don’t call the cops. I just want my mom to believe I’m willing to steal flowers for her, but we are off to buy some. I just don’t know if that will kill the urge she has to steal a clipping. If she gets the urge, I may be coming by your house.”