"Today, my mother-in-law arrives.
"My husband’s mother visits every four to five months. Her soft blouses predictably sport cheerful, butterfly designs. She enjoys drinking a cold Stella beer and walking barefoot in the backyard of our south Florida home. Her beautiful, white hair shines in the sun. She loves to read to our two-year-old boy Taber. He calls her “Nana.”
"Nana is an important part of Taber’s world. Should I forget to include her in our prayers before meals, he reminds me to bless her. As he begins the journey of toilet learning, he asks, “Nana, pee-pee, too?” In between visits, Taber loves our weekly Skype dates with Nana. Occasionally, he’ll play heartfelt songs for her on his blue ukulele. It’s beautiful to witness my son embrace his paternal grandmother -- his Nana -- so tenderly. I’m grateful she arrives today.
"However, there are times when Nana’s positive presence in our lives stands as a stark reminder of the gaping chasm of my own mother’s absence. My mother has never met my son. In fact, she hasn’t seen my face in 16 years.
"No, my mother isn’t dead. She’s very much alive -- though the parts of her I remember fondly are now lost within a confusing labyrinth of mental illness. It is impossible to connect to the mother I knew as a girl. That woman is gone. I hear updates about the woman my mother has become from time to time. It’s hard to recognize her."