Sandy S was her mother Edith's sole caregiver after she suffered a debilitating stroke. Instead of enjoying her days as a stay at home mom with two small children, Sandy bravely moved into her mother's home, balancing child care with managing her mother's increasingly erratic and violent behavior. Here Sandy describes a transformative memory which helped me reframe that painful point in time: 

"In the 50's, it was unusual to have a working mother who'd already been working 15 years. Mom was a tough cookie. She'd come home (my grandmother was taking care of me then) and ask me: "What have you done to justify your means for living?"  

In 1970 on this day, it's a couple years before my mother has a serious stroke and I am left alone with her and two small children to take care of. I am visiting my college professor and her husband, and we are in Chesapeake Bay on an outing. Annika had these two German shepherds, Thor and Vehar, who she taught to retrieve - and they're not retrievers, they're herders. But Annika would go out in the bay, the dogs would "soft mouth" her and rescue her. Shepherds don't do that instinctively. So I was watching that happening. I can remember watching this and being fascinated by it. 

I always say if only my mother and I had known each other as adults. In the dreamscape, it's almost like she's standing on the water, then putting down the newspaper and looking up at me. She has a smile on her face like she's pleased with me … a spirit of herself … like I decided to call her and she showed up looking well."