Grandmothering in Remission


  • Michelle Hughes Miller University of South Florida


Xander, your Grandma is really sorry, but right now I can’t concentrate on this upcoming milestone in your life, your first birthday, because today I’m having my two year scans. In this personal narrative I explore grandmothering from a position of uncertainty— in this case cancer in remission. Using the framework of letters to my young grandson, I unpack my expectations for and experiences of the role of grandmothering, contextualized by my simultaneous effort to understand myself as a cancer survivor
and the liminality of that particular status. How do I develop a relationship with my grandchild when he may not even have the memories of our interactions? How do I grandmother authentically while masking the health worries that sometimes threaten to consume me? How do I care for my daughter who has become a mother from a position of strength and confidence when the very ground I walk on feels unsettled and the future unclear? Considering issues of temporality, relationship directionality, caregiving, and authenticity, I place my musings as a grandmother and cancer survivor from my cancer journal, half-written letters, poetry, and reflective narrative into interaction.

Author Biography

Michelle Hughes Miller, University of South Florida

Miller is an associate professor in women’s and gender studies at the University of South Florida. As a sociologist specializing in gender and justice, she researches discursive constructions of motherhood, systemic responses to violence against women, and diversity within STEM.


How to Cite

Miller, M. H. (2018). Grandmothering in Remission. Journal of the Motherhood Initiative for Research and Community Involvement, 9(1). Retrieved from