The terrain darkened as I drove the rural back roads of Georgia, red clay lining the sandy soil, deep-green kudzu choking trees and climbing telephone poles; the highway transformed into bumpy roads wearing worn-out street signs. It was summer 1985, and I was driving to see Mamie, a part-time nanny who’d helped raise me as a child. I barely knew about her own life back then, only that she lived across town, a single mom with a teenage son. I hadn’t seen her for decades.
I was now a 30-something TV reporter in Atlanta. I’d just finished a report about the “sandwich generation” — adults squeezed between caring for their children and their elderly parents — when my mom called.