Valerie Lynne Wilkes, 1972-1973


I woke up this morning thinking about Valerie and in the process of those thoughts I decided to share some of them with you. Many of you know that Valerie Lynne Wilkes, our seventh child, was born June 13, 1972 and died August 30, 1973 which coincidently was Beverly’s and my 15th wedding anniversary. Two days before she died we had arrived in Salt Lake. We were moving to Salt Lake from Eugene so I could take a job, all part of a plan to get some much needed help for our family.

When we arrived, we began moving into a house we had rented in the East Mill Creek area of Salt Lake. As part of the move, my parents (Roy and Eva) had driven down from Eugene in my dad’s pickup to bring a few of our belongings that were needed so we could survive until the main part of our belongings would arrive later by moving van.

The day after we arrived we had gone as a family to spend the day on Snell Johnson’s property located adjacent to Deer Creek Reservoir in the Heber Valley. There were some family activities there, mainly centered around dirt bikes and three-wheelers which our children enjoyed. My parents were planning to leave for their return to Eugene later in the day but they had accompanied us up to this location. Later, when they were getting ready to depart, several of us including Valerie had gathered around Dad’s pickup to bid them farewell.

Fourteen-month-old Valerie had climbed up into the truck and onto the seat next to my Dad when my Mother handed her a cookie. In a manner that was very characteristic of Valerie, she instinctively broke the cookie into two pieces and offered half of it to her Grandpa whom she adored and who, in turn, adored her.

For me, this was an unforgettable moment. It not only tells us a lot about Valerie and the kind of person she was even at the age of fourteen months, but it teaches us some of the great lessons of life. I believe that life is lived best when it is lived with as much compassion and concern for others as we have for ourselves. Valerie was demonstrating this when she divided the only cookie she had so she could share it with her Grandpa. This morning, as I was thinking about this incident, I wondered if I am following Valerie’s example and doing enough to share the “cookies” I have received with others.

Valerie died the day after this incident. I honor her for teaching me this lesson.

Valerie’s Picture (1.1 MB)

3 Responses to “Valerie Lynne Wilkes, 1972-1973”

  1. fcwilkes Says:

    It is difficult, perhaps impossible, for me to adequately appreciate, or even imagine all the subtle and sublime yet deeply profound ways my life has been effected by the short life and untimely death of my sister Valerie Lynn Wilkes. As the years pass away, the significance of this event, especially the instruction I received as a witness to it, now seem a sort of blessing in disguise, a tragedy with a silver lining. The silver lining was a lesson learned, and the lesson is a very simple one; our mortal life is bound to this earth by very tenuous threads, and we know not the hour of our passing. Accordingly, we should make an honest attempt to live everyday to its fullest. This was the instruction that was imparted to me by the untimely death of our sister. As I have contemplated this instruction throughout the years, it has effected my life in many different ways, and continues to be of influence even now. For it is through this contemplation that I have realized what matters most is to live each day in accord with our deepest values, to ensure that when we wake up each morning, we set a course for the day that is governed, guided by our deepest values. It is through this contemplation that I have been given occasion to consider what matters most to me, and to try to live according to that realization. This practice has guided my life on a somewhat unique path, but along the way I have experienced things for which I am deeply and eternally grateful. In retrospect, I realize that Valerie left to me a gift I can not even adequately describe and could never repay.

  2. wilkeswb Says:

    Floyd (Dad) & Floyd,

    Thanks for sharing. You know, I was touched by Valerie’s short months with our family and still am, even today. Thinking and reading your writings of her bring back a rush of sweet memories that move me deeply. It could almost be described as a longing somehow wanting to know what her brief life would be if fulfilled.

    I remember lying on the living room floor in the house the after our arrival in East Mill Creek. I recall Mother being in the kitchen and me complaining about being hungry. I hadn’t complained long and Valerie came over to me and kneeling down near my head she opened a small bag of cheerios that she had and started putting them into my mouth. I remember her as caring and loving and I marvel the lives that she touched with her tender spirit.

    It will be a joyful reunion for me to see her once again. I believe I’ll be able to greet her and, I hope, I’ll be able to put into words for her how wonderful it was for me to be together with her for those few short months.

  3. owilkes Says:

    This is such a moving story about Valerie. I’m so glad I could read it.

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