Continuing our daily Advent reflection series, Communications Coordinator Bridget Higginbotham shares how her life has been shaped through the message of her grandmother’s life.

This time of year brings about a host of angel decorations, and each time I see one I am reminded of my grandmother who loved angels. The word “angel” is derived from the Hebrew for “messenger,” and looking at the life of Granny, I see a lived message of how to be light to others.

She was tirelessly generous and hospitable. Everyone was always welcome in her home, from the neighborhood kids looking for cookies; to her children’s friends in need of a home and a mother figure; to the religious communities with whom the family connected, including the friars at Graymoor and the Sisters of the Resurrection.

She was so relational. No matter how distant the relative, she always seemed to keep in touch with them. Family was the most important thing to her, but she made friends (and kept them!) wherever she went: cruises, work, the salon, church, the mailbox, you name it. At her funeral, I met friends with whom she had maintained relationships since elementary school.

Bridget with Granny

She was always so full of joy. I would often forget that she had faced so many sorrows and challenges including the early loss of her parents, a nearly fatal illness, a very sick child, and a failed marriage.

Yet she always picked herself up and kept a deep faith, an unshakeable sense of hope, and a true willingness to help others in whatever way she could.

Granny never did anything that society would consider to be extraordinary or remarkable, but she did little things with great love. As an idealistic young person determined to make a big difference in the world, this is reminder I need frequently.

The message of Granny’s life tells me to not be so wrapped up in my own troubles that I can’t recognize and respond to the troubles of others. Despite past wounds, I should continue to open myself to love, hope, and trust. I should continue to seek joy and try to operate from a posture of understanding and forgiveness.

Like any good angel, Granny simply passed on God’s message that we are loved and that we should love others as God loves us. And filled with gratitude, this is what I will remember whenever I follow her holiday recipes or gaze at the angel atop our Christmas tree.

Coming up tomorrow: “Diary of a Young Southern Catholic” by Patrick Martin!

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Bridget Higginbotham is our communications coordinator and came to Franciscan Mission Service as a domestic volunteer in 2011. Her grandmother Janet Bellerive passed away in August 2012. Originally from Orlando, Fla., Bridget is a proud Gator grad and Girl Scout alumna.

Help shine the light! Make a donation to Franciscan Mission Service this Advent.