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I really like your additional insight about wanting to "guilt-ridden for not being the model son/daughter they supposedly always wanted, we seek atonement by making ourselves do without the things that make life worth living."

We can't atone for our own imperfections anymore than our parent's can atone for their own.

anne123 , thanks for your validating and supportive response. Yes, I'm dong the best that I can for my mother. My dad is still living but in much better physical and mental health at 86. However, he has cut me out of anything about his future care by giving in to a very domineering and jealous wife who is my step-mother which had led to her daughter and her husband getting both durable POA and Medical POA over them without me being listed as a back up possibility like he had done almost 10 years ago when he wrote one up with me being next after his wife. He will not discuss this at all. He and his wife have written in their wills that who ever dies first will get all of the other's estate, but when that surviving person dies it will be divided between me and her two children. I never understood why he married her for socially, educationally, and in terms of outlook on life they are worlds apart. I guess she was a very good secretary? But she's a gold digger. I could easily see her outliving him and then re-writing the will, which some have done, and leaving me totally out. They live 6 hours away. The last time we visited, my step-mother showed how much of a BPD drama queen she can be. So, that the direction he's chosen to go and that's his decision. I do remember she wrote a poem for him one time that she read in my presence and it closed saying "and in the end you will see that I have won." I think he puts up with this because he carries so much guilt from his first marriage ending in divorce plus his strict Roman Catholic childhood which included a mother who committed suicide. I'm not surprised by this.

I think it is possible to really love someone and accept that they are going to die particularly if we are at peace with our own eventual death. I've seen so many die from an early age in my extended family; had several situation in which I almost died, and in my previous life as I call it, I've seen people die many times in the ER and in hospital rooms. Death is a fact and not everyone dies exactly the same.

Life is not about the dead, but about the living and yet every living person at some point will die. So, from how I see it, not making a martyr or a lamb of atonement for not being the perfect child, but taking sound care of ourselves is to some degree part of what it means to let the dead bury the dead.
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I meant to say "good to your mother" because just remembered you are caring for your mother right now. But I'm sure you were just as caring to your father.
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Crowe, I'm sure your question will resonate with almost any caregiver visiting this certainly does with me. The question of where "to draw the line" is always at the forefront of my mind, and many others of us.....where to draw the line between caring for Mom and Dad and caring for ourselves and our own spouse and family, so that we the caregivers can survive ourselves, and have good mental and physical health along with the elders under our care. Ultimately I have found that my best answer to this difficult question is to try to tune into what God is guiding me to do. This means listening to God and not feeling guilty if other people question my decisions, think me selfish for taking care of myself and my husband, etc. I simply answer to God. ( He's the One I'm going to have to answer to at the pearly gates.) And I truly believe that God doesn't want to destroy me in this process; He just wants me to be faithful to my father to the point that He is asking me to. In prayer, I feel that answer come from the Lord. And as Jesus said: "My yoke is easy and my burden is light." And I do believe that. As long as I listen to God, and not to others, or to a neurotically guilty conscience, I can keep going doing this job and hold it together.

You are doing the best you can...that is obvious. It is obvious that you are a good, caring man. You are a loving, kind person and you are good to your parents, Crowe.
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More than we care to admit. As our parents' lives come full circle, those like you who truly love their parents can't bear the thought of losing them. Perhaps guilt-ridden for not being the model son/daughter they supposedly always wanted, we seek atonement by making ourselves do without the things that make life worth living. What is becoming severely depressed, dysfunctional, and making others around us miserable going to accomplish? Is it going to make your parents love you any more or any less? Do you think that their lives will be enhanced and extended by watching their son/daughter unravel before their eyes?

If you truly want to keep them comfortable and happy -- which is practically all you can do at this stage --, make an effort to enjoy your own life to the fullest, stay healthy, and don't entertain any silly "sacrifices" to make up for past behaviors. What's really important is what you do from this day forward.

Ate logo meu amigo.

-- ED
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