By Barb Arland-Fye
Grandma Irene Arland died years ago, but responses to a cousin’s recent Facebook post about her fill me with love and longing as we prepare to celebrate the third Sunday of Advent.
My cousin Penny posted: “At Christmas time I always remember my Grandma Arland and all of the wonderful things she taught me. … What are your favorite memories of Christmas? Arland cousins chime in. We are all so scattered now. My mom’s siblings started out with 9; Uncle Tom died in the Navy. The rest were prolific and I think I have 50 or 52 first cousins on the Arland side. Refresh my memory. Let’s not lose touch.”
Nicole, Penny’s youngest sibling, posted: “I was very fortunate to have lived with my Grandma Arland. I remember her baking up a storm (before) Christmas and oh those overnight puffs with the chocolate chips were the best. She was such a strong woman in her tiny body. She never complained and her faith was her backbone.”
Other cousins shared memories of sliding down Grandma’s staircase, the aroma of her baking and the fragrance of Dove soap and lavender in her bathroom. “Every time I open a box of Dove I think of her,” my cousin Deb posted. Our cousin Suzette piped in, “I’m the youngest Arland cousin at #50!”
My youngest sibling, Brian, wrote: “… by the time I was born, grandma could have by all rights just called me hey you (my dad called me Timpatbarbbrian … I still answer to that). Amazingly, I too, felt like she knew everything about me and (I) never saw her upset even for a moment.” Brian remembered that Grandma Arland lived with our family for a short time after she sold her house. She was a gracious, patient guest who set an example for us. “Now today as a grandparent,” Brian said, “that impact and love she showed me … it is passed down to my little ones … it’s like a gift from her in heaven!!! She is truly missed, but never gone!”
Penny responded to Brian’s post: “What an incredible legacy she has left to all 50 of us … So (many) of us remember her kindness and bravery and how it is part of who we are. We can strive to be what Grandma would want us to be: happy, playful, strong (and) devoted to our families, grounded in faith.”
I posted that “Grandma Arland exemplified the spirit of Christmas, welcoming all of her children and grandchildren to her home built on a foundation of faith, love and laughter. I feel blessed to have been a part of these gatherings!”
The Catholic Church describes the family as the domestic church … “The Christian home is the place where children receive the first proclamation of the faith… a community of grace and prayer, a school of human virtues and Christian charity.” Grandma Arland, widowed when her nine children were young, nurtured the domestic church and left that as legacy for her grandchildren.
During this third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday, we are called to celebrate with gladness; to not only worship “The Lord who is to come,” but also to “worship and hail with joy ‘The Lord who is now nigh and close at hand’” (https://tinyurl.com/2gcypf). I can’t help but imagine Grandma Arland’s smiling presence in the company of the Christ who is now “nigh and close at hand.”
(Editor Barb Arland-Fye can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)