Archive for January, 2014

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At the same time on Sunday, January 26, 2014, on two continents, memorial services for Monika Wood were held in Massies Mill, Virginia, USA, and in Reisbach, Lower Bavaria, Germany.

At Grace Church, Massies Mill, 130 people filled every seat in the church for an emotional and beautiful service that drew, at Monika’s request, on the themes and music of the Celtic Evensong service offered in the late afternoon each Sunday.  Rev. Marion Kanour also explained that Monika had asked that communion be seen as an opportunity for a last supper of the congregation and her together.  At the beginning of the service, Monika’s son John played a Bach prelude.  Nic Wood read the scripture.  Eulogies were offered by her husband Bob and her eldest son Dan.  The alter flowers were donated by Monika’s mother and two sisters.  The reception in the parish hall, where four displays of photos of Monika and her family adorned the walls, was festive, celebrating her life as Monika had wished.  As always, the Grace community came through with an incredible spread of good food and drink.  Sentiment appeared unanimous that the service had been exceptionally beautiful and moving, with everyone mourning the loss of such an extraordinary strong, and wonderful woman, while celebrating the times they had been blessed to have together with her.

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click on the images above to see the photo displays at Grace Church

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At the memorial service in Reisbach (see pictures above), Monika’s nephew, Moritz Gluekher, played “Halleluja”, composed by Leonard Cohen, on the organ.  Monika’s younger sister, Sissi, gave the following eulogy (translated in part by Axel and Anke Goetz):

Eulogy (Nachruf) for Monika Wood by Sissi Gluekher

We had a daughter, sister, sister in law and aunt Monika,

  • who left our home in Munich much too soon
  • who loved and pursued life above all else, had wide-ranging interests and helped where she saw  people in distress
  • who always carried out that to which she had set her mind
  • who would not let the adversities of life subdue her but rather push back against them 
  • who gave the world three wonderful boys and gave them a beautiful childhood
  • who loved her ever growing family above all else
  • who did not forget her family in Germany over all that and who showed her love and closeness in visits and regular contacts
  • who, as caring, loving daughter, sister and aunt, gave us unforgettable hours that enriched our lives indelibly
  • who knew also what gratefulness means
  • who can look back on a fulfilled life for which she had, as much as was in her power, worked with indefatigable effort
  • who left us much too soon and left a void that cannot be filled
  • who accepted her illness and death and so is a great role model
  • who will remain in our hearts and memory as a wonderful human being



As Christmas approached, Monika had two main goals: to make it through Christmas with her family here, and to make it past 2013 (which quite apart from her numerological superstitions, had obviously been a terrible year healthwise).  She accomplished both goals, but her health began to deteriorate rapidly on January 8th, and she died peacefully, surrounded by family, in the early morning hours of Friday, January 17th.

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Much to her delight, Monika’s sisters Sigi and Sissi flew in from Germany in mid-December for a short but intense visit of four days.  The three sisters gabbed late into each night and had a wonderful time together.  Among other things, Monika and I took them to the Tye River suspension bridge, Crabtree Falls, and Sarah and Hal Loken’s home, which in addition to Sarah’s nature photographs, offered a breathtaking view of the Blue Ridge mountains.

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And then came Christmas week, when Monika was reunited with her three older grandchildren (now in their late teens or early 20’s) all together for the first time in some years.  Dan’s negotiating a brief leave from his robotics program in Portugal made this possible, and it was a wonderful reunion and Moni’s final Christmas.


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In early January, Monika’s long-time friend Ursula arrived with her friend John.  They brought an incredible array of goodies as well as good cheer and assistance for a variety of things.  Monika was noticeably losing strength and function during this period, and it was great to have their help.


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Monika hosted her Grace prayer shawl guild on January 7th in the living room.  The following night she experienced terrible cramping and pain, and began to lose strength and function rapidly.  Her prayer shawl guild serenaded her in her bedroom the following Tuesday.  Dave came down from Pennsylvania and helped a lot, and Nic and Alison came by.  Dan, Gina, and John subsequently arrived.  Monika’s friend Samantha came and played her lyre for Monika several times in that final week.  Monika died peacefully at 4:50 am on January 17th, surrounded by family and holding fast to the prayer shawl that the guild had made for her to the very end.

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Throughout this period, Monika faced death with extraordinary courage and grace.

I miss her terribly, but am comforted to know that her death was seemingly painless and  peaceful.

I will always treasure our memories.