Over the years as I strove to reconcile my relationship with my abusive mother I often read this passage for encouragement:
“…as to the question of where exactly hell and the Buddha exist, one sutra states that hell exists underground, and another sutra says that the Buddha is in the west. Closer examination, however, reveals that both exist in our five-foot body. This must be true because hell is in the heart of a person who inwardly despises his father and disregards his mother.” (https://www.nichirenlibrary.org/en/wnd-1/Content/172)
Close to the time I became reconciled with her, dementia got the best of her. My brothers were left behind since she could no longer remember the abuse she had heaped on them. Having turned “sweet” for the first time in her life, I felt confident to delve deeper into her past with her and discovered deep within her a fear and resentment stemming from abuse she suffered as a child. I became concerned that if she reverted to that child, her last moments would not be happy. I started to see glimpses of this monster re-emerge as she began to be cruel to the staff at her assisted living facility. I thought, while I still have the chance I must show Mom how to become happy. Then she had a stroke. She is lost now. She is stuck in obstinate aggression mode and her mumbling incoherent speech is only clear when she curses which is often. Communication if very limited now and she seems so pitiful. Now the challenge is to renew my vow to raise my life condition. I feel the same way now as I did when I realized that my Alzheimer disease afflicted father, though breathing, was essentially dead. Now I’m pondering this passage:
In time Maudgalyāyana attained Buddhahood and was called by the name Tamalapattra Sandalwood Fragrance Buddha. And at that time his father and mother, too, attained Buddhahood. Hence it is said in the Lotus Sutra, “Then our wishes will be fulfilled and the longings of the multitude will likewise be satisfied.” (https://www.nichirenlibrary.org/en/wnd-1/Content/98)
I know that my religiosity can be a distraction, but the point I’m making is that all bets are off when dealing with the elderly so make relationship “hay” while the sun shines.