I had wonderful older relatives - Grandparents and Aunts and Uncles - who brought joy and care into my life. I miss them very much and took every opportunity while they were alive to let them know how much they meant to me.

My parents, who are divorced for many years and getting closer to death due to advanced age, seem to fear death.

I am sure the reason is because they have treated their children with such a lack of regard. They are both going all out in a sympathy bid VERY late in life.

This is the reason they fear death. Because they were unkind to their children their whole lives.

It is nice to be charitable and offer consolation to people as they age. However they cannot “take back” a lifetime of ill will that has left a deep impression on their family.

Those who are kind leave a deep impression of kindness. They receive genuine care and concern later in life and they do not fear their life has been “worthless”.

Those who have been selfish and unkind often reflect in the 11th hour that “no one cares”. That is because they have created that legacy themselves.

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...And then there are some that you do and do and do for and they still say, "nobody cares" and "you don't love me." The more you do, the more they expect. I help my mom because I do care about her as a person and about her well-being. Not to mention getting her out of an abusive situation (physically, emotionally and financially) with my sister. I felt a duty to step in because I would've felt terrible had something happened to her and I didn't do something knowing that it was within my ability to do so. But, indeed it is difficult and we don't have the warm, gushy mother-daughter relationship because that was never cultivated.

I will help and do what I can because I try to be a decent person, and because mom is still a human being and deserves good, decent care, but I do it with limits and detachment to a degree, and have learned that I have to set boundaries or the more and more she will demand.

You're right that the selfishness and lack of close relationships in the end is sometimes a self-created legacy. Like the old saying goes, "To have friends, you have to be a friend." Same goes with loving relationships of any kind.

I reflect on my life vs. my mom's, and having this kind of responsibility when she never did for her own parents, and one positive effect I can say that it's had on me, for all the difficulty, is that it's made me a stronger person.

EsperanzaD ... With all due respect ... what??? Parents can, indeed be unkind. Many of us have LIVED this truth.

And yet, and yet ... we struggle with the prospect of having to yield everything we are, or own, or could ever have owned, to parents who never nurtured us when we were young.

In this day and age, thanks to modern medicine, that yielding can go on for the rest of our lives. Then, after we've perished? Who will look after them? And, if we survived their need ... surely, no one will look after us.

I don't feel that you should think like this. Parents can not ever be unkind to their children. May be by the strict gesture you would feel this, but this won't be true. As you care about your grandparents and relatives, you should feel the same for your parents as well. As the time of death comes, you shouldn't even be unkind to your enemies as well. If you need some help, you can look up to for help.

Maybe on earth they'll reap the benefits but not in heaven if they even make it there.

Gershun, good analogy. But if I remember my Bible story correctly, the father
says something to the effect that the "good" son will inherit everything that belongs to the father.

In dysfunctional families I've seen and been part of, the prodigal sons and daughters reap both the celebration as well as the years of hard work of their sibling(s) . Essentially the parents are prodigal as well as their offspring, as the hard working responsible sibs look on in exhausted horror. I think the resentment is well founded, nothing wrong with the emotion except that it only hurts the bearer. The prodigal family members don't care, they are too busy enjoying themselves.

The Biblical father is celebrating his son's safe return. In these modern narcissistic families, the parasitical family members are celebrating the benefits obtained by the hard work of the loyal members ---foolishly hoping to enjoy a reciprocal relationship one day. Instead they become unpaid personal servants and often
have nothing to show for it but exhaustion and harassment.

Well said bettina..........I agree. We've all probably heard the story about the prodigal son. The Father welcomed him home with open arms. The good son felt hard done by. Why is my bad brother getting all this love when I've always been the good one. But then you have to think it was wrong for "the good son" to be having these feelings of resentment. So the prodigal son gets rewarded for bad behavior. The good son feels resentful. So does that mean he is now the bad son for feeling that way? Nothing in life is cut and dried is it?

Maybe true for some less than ideal parents, but I've seen other, very exploitative
parents who are absolutely revered by their families and associates. Sure there's
a scapegoat or two who takes all the heat, but everyone else seems to happy and
healthy. At least on the surface.

I would argue that those who get roped into caring for selfish people, be it
parents, spouse, or even adult children, who do not reciprocate, are also very
much in danger of leading meaningless lives.

And just to play devil's advocate, I've known some lovely people who are mistreated and neglected by their kids. And yes I've known both sides of the
story. Nice people can raise selfish kids, just as selfish parents can raise nice
kids. So I guess what I'm trying to say it's not always so black and white.

What I realize more and more is just how precious family really is, and how
we are meant to be in supportive, reciprocal relationships. Anything other
is unhealthy.

I wonder if we all ponder that at times. Ideally, I would have somehow known what my purpose is early on so I could go forward making plans aligned to that. Without such clarity, I think the best I can do is follow the golden rule "Do unto others" and stay aligned with what I think in my heart is best. I know I am kind, empathetic, and actions I take are honest. I also have been repeatedly told by others that I am too nice. Hearing that did not alter my beliefs that I should act any differently. I do think there is an element of karma, the law of attraction, and what you focus on becomes your reality. If you think this world is awful, your kids are neglectful, you worry you will be forgotten in life, or you carry anger toward others - you will indeed have all that come back to you.

I guess we reap what we sow: karma's a *****.

Interesting points but I think being kind and generous is a gift unto itself. If you are giving and consoling as a means to an end it is kind of an empty feeling and won't score you points in heaven or anywhere else.

You remind me of something that happened today. I was waiting for a cab and there was this woman sitting against a wall with the usual sign. "Homeless, can you spare any change" She looked pretty hard and hard done by and I debated within myself whether to give her anything. Finally I just did it. I handed her a five dollar bill and she just grabbed it and said "thank-you" in a really ungrateful voice. Didn't even look at me. When I drove off in the cab I thought to myself. Wow, not very grateful. But then I thought. Well, it was -1 out and who am I to judge. My Mom used to say, do the right thing and don't worry about who is grateful or how people react.

As far as creating legacies........hmmm, I don't know. We are all God's children and only he knows where our hearts lay. Sometimes the hardest people to love are the ones who need it the most. Yeah, ill will does sometimes beget ill will but there is a bigger picture out there that we know nothing about.

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