Monday, February 2, 2009

Touched by an Angel

If we are lucky we will meet one, or maybe two, people in our lives who will impress us in such as way that we will never be the same.

I met Lenna Morgan over ten years ago when she was assigned to be my mother's visiting teacher. She was sharp, beautiful, and well into her late seventies. The moment I met her I knew I would love her because she was crazy about my dog, Oakley, and she treated my mother like her best friend. She was no ordinary visiting teacher. My mother, whose social circle was mostly limited to my family, became her "partner in crime". They went to movies, had lunch together, visited floral gardens, and generally had a great time together. We eventually came to call her our Angel.

However, it was after my mother's death that I really came to know Lenna. She was one of very few members in her family and she was married to a wonderful man, who was also a nonmember, named Glenn. Lenna and Glenn were perpetual sweethearts. After Glenn entered a care facility because of failing health, Lenna visited him every day. Lenna told great stories, after Glenn died, of "smooching" on a park bench in the garden where he lived while listening to music she had carefully selected for the event. Her heart broke after Glenn died. And, one of my most memorable temple experiences is being in attendance at her sealing to him.

Lenna loved a party and hated to be left out of any celebration. She attended every wedding, shower, baptism, or whatever and always came with gifts. She loved to go out to lunch and always had a number of people waiting in line for the privilege of taking her. Her home was beautiful and she welcomed you like a long lost friend when you visited. I actually thought I was her best friend. Then, I started hearing others say the same thing. That was her gift.

Several months after Glenn's death, she called me with amazing news. While working on her genealogy she discovered a death certificate for a baby born at the very time and place of her birth. After much research, she learned that she had been a twin and her sister had died at birth. No one in the family knew it. Lenna was an only child and said she often felt that someone was missing in her life. She announced this great news to everyone she knew. She had a sister - and someday she would meet her! This brought great joy to her life and to all those who loved her.

Several years ago Lenna was diagnosed with cancer. She underwent the treatments and before we knew it, she was back to normal. Normal for her meant a schedule that few twenty-year-olds could manage. She served EVERYBODY in the ward. She wrote to every missionary (and sent them all gifts at Christmas and birthdays). She prepared meals for anyone who needed it. She visited the sick and she participated in any service project that was physically possible for her. And during it all, she was in great pain. She suffered from arthritis and other ailments. No more than six months ago she fell in Relief Society and broke her arm. But, she never slowed down.

About six months ago she called to tell me her cancer had returned. And, in her words she said, "Pandy, when I heard the news, I felt this incredible sense of peace and an unmistakable feeling that it would be alright." She opted to receive no treatments. She died Sunday afternoon surrounded by her family at about 4:20. She finished her visiting teaching on Friday. She lived and died exactly the way she chose.

Today I had the opportunity and great privilege of being one of five women who dressed her in preparation for her cremation. Through all the sadness the thought that kept coming to me was, I am a blessed woman. On the way home I felt a small smile come to my lips as I thought of her reunion with Glenn. I would love to be at that party!

So, good-bye my dear friend. Thank you for showing me what perfection looks like. Thank you for teaching me about graciousness and gratitude. Thank you for teaching me about service and charity. And, thank you for sharing moments of your beautiful life with me and my family. I will never write another thank-you without thinking of the dozens you have sent me. I will never envision an angel without your face. I will tell Bailey about a woman I once knew who changed my life by her example.

I will tell her that I once knew an angel.

We love and miss you.


  1. What an amazing tribute and perfectly said. My dear sweet Lenna was an ANGEL and made everyone else's life around her better. To Lenna, I love you, will miss you tremendously and thanks for teaching me that there are good people left in the this world. I will cherish the picture I have of you and Bailey on my mantel forever.

  2. That was beautiful to read. I can't imagine a better-lived life. She sounds like such an amazing woman--and it sounds like you and your family were probably angels to her as well. I'm sorry you lost your dear friend.

  3. What a beautiful tribute. This brought tears to my eyes. I am always amazed that there are people out there who do so much service for others with a smile on their face. And she really caught the vision of visiting teaching--what a great example for me. You know she is going straight to the Celestial kingdom.

  4. I completely teared up reading this. What an amazing woman. How lucky for you all to have had someone like that in your lives.