I was just reworking my memoir/manuscript today and I ran into this, one of the big "regrets" of my life. I will try to shorten it up so it's not so wordy, but it's to make a point about taking care of your parents at the end of their lives.
The biggest regret in my life is that I have wasted so much of my time and energy, trying excruciatingly hard not to be my mother, not to be my father, or my brother, or a bad person. I’ve tried, with all my might to be a person my father would approve of, to be someone God would approve of. To be worthy, smart, or successful. And I’ve tried hard to be someone my mom would approve of, which was to appear rich, pretty, or skinny.
I’ve been consumed with guesses of what they’ve all wanted from me. And I came to the tough realization that I was never really in their thoughts to begin with, and that’s been extremely hard to swallow.
Because not being noticed, and not being seen (or needed) is much much worse than not living up to someone’s else’s expectations.
I only wish I could go back with the knowledge I have now and tell my younger self to stop flailing around and come up for air, but unfortunately, like most kids, I wouldn't listen.
I bring this up because when both my parents needed care in the end, I actually felt useful. And I liked that feeling. I was never of any use to them before that. It gave me a chance to be of some kind of service to them. It made me important to them. That was all I ever wanted. It was my pleasure. I didn't even want the acknowledgement, much less any apologies from them, but I sort of received those too -- from my dad of all people (a WWII vet). Eight months later, my mom died too, but she was in dementia and it turned her into a very appreciate person. VERY surprising. I had forgiven them (or however forgiveness can be processed to the umpteenth degree) a decade before all of this. I think they came to forgive themselves on their way out. My brother and I made it safe and easy for them to do that.
I think "forgiveness" is thrown around a lot like a rag doll. People say they forgive their parents for beating them with a stick or worse. Someone else hears that and wonders what is wrong with them that they can't forgive and then beats themselves up for not being the Dali Lama. I think there is a lot to be said in being seen. Being understood. Once I understood my parents or my abusers, or Hubbard, or whoever I felt did wrong to me, I let a lot go. Maybe not everything, but I was able to walk towards a healing place, or at least turn my face toward the light of it. I'm not sure forgiveness is completely possible for certain things and I think that is absolutely fine. Understanding is a lot more realistic. I completely understand why my mom and dad were who they were. And I feel unconditional love and compassion for them and their circumstances.
Do I forgive what they did to me? Sometimes. I know they left this world knowing I loved them.