I’ve been in the US this week, having cleared my work schedule, and have split my time between a family visit to Michigan, and a couple of days in Denver. The main reason for the whole trip was to be able to attend the Memorial service today for my friend Luanna who passed away unexpectedly a couple of weeks ago.
I lived in Denver in the 80s and early 90s and attended a wonderful church there, but Luanna and I weren’t particularly close friends then. It was a large church and our 20 year age difference probably meant we had different groups of close friends. But everyone knew Luanna! She was super friendly and her hospitality was legendary!
Luanna loves to travel and a few years after I moved to England she and a close friend of mine did a trip to England together and came to visit me. I enjoyed spending a couple of days with her and getting to know her better. Then I stayed with her once years ago when I was in Denver and was able to enjoy her famous hospitality.
My visits to Denver became less frequent over the 28 years I’ve been in the UK, but a year ago we started flying to Denver from London and so now I’m doing lots of trips there and making up for lost time. I saw Luanna on one of my first trips last spring when she picked me up from the hotel and took me to church and then to lunch afterwards. She made me feel so welcome and even posted a picture of us both on Facebook, stating how excited she was that I was going to be flying regularly to Denver. (See Extra photo)
Last summer when I was in Denver for 6 weeks I saw her another couple of times. When I needed to get rid of all the furniture in my condo before changing the type of rental I was doing, it was Luanna who organised the donation to a needy family connected to the church. This involved putting together a small team of men from the church who came with their trucks to haul away the furniture and deliver it to the new owners. Not only her hospitality but her exceptional organisational skills were highlighted in the memorial service.
As I spent more time with Luanna last year, I felt very much as if she was no longer just an acquaintance but now a good friend! I looked forward to being able to see her from time to time. And so I was shocked and saddened to hear of her sudden passing. It’s been sad to say goodbye but as Christians we know it’s only temporary.
The Memorial service was beautiful and I so enjoyed the many tributes from ‘family’ and friends representing so many parts of her active and varied life. She was truly an inspiring woman who loved and served whoever she could and wherever she could - a woman devoted to God, her church, her friends, and a variety of ministries. There was lots there to challenge me!
The church was filled with many whose lives Luanna had touched. Some of those were others whom I knew from my time in Denver and, as always at funerals and Memorial services, it’s good to see people from the past. In the evening I went to dinner with my good friend - the one who had travelled with Luanna the time they came to visit me. We went to one of Luanna’s favourite restaurants and had a delicious meal in memory of her. I hope she was pleased!