Grace Bunnell Wilkinson - Life Sketch
Contributor: sallygoff Created: 1 year ago Updated: 1 year ago
On April 17 in the year of 1913, Grace Bunnell Wilkinson, oldest daughter of Thomas Joel and Zelda Holdaway Bunnell, made her stormy advent into the world. She must have sensed that there was a great adventure waiting out there because she just couldn't wait for the old country doctor to arrive. Born quite sometime before his appearance, a well-known mid-wife of the day, Mary Bircumshaw Wilkinson, was called to the scene. She just happened to be the grandmother of Grace's future husband, Joseph Vivian Wilkinson, the oldest son of Joseph Albert and Margaret Gillies Wilkinson. They were married on November 21, 1935. There were other strange coincidences which happened to this couple: Grace and her husband Viv were both born on the same street in Vineyard, Utah, attended the same schools, were baptized into the LDS Church in the cold waters of Utah Lake by his uncle, Jay Gillies. They each had an Uncle Thomas and an Aunt May who happened to be good friends. Their fathers were boyhood friends and his grandfather Gillies at one time came a-courting Grace's grandmother Bunnell after they had each been robbed of their mates by the grim reaper.
Maybe fate had decreed that these two souls should someday marry to help each other through the trials and tribulations of mortality, because it seems as tho each has needed desperately a quality found in the other. Grace, tho highly idealistic, seemed to lack the more practical, down to earth characteristics which Vivian possessed. Had she had her way, she probably may have hungered all day that she might have danced all night, while he had a firm belief that we gain all our blessings by the sweat of our brow. Two extremes, thrown together, each believing that literally what they read was true. She clung to the words: “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow, they toil not, neither do they spin, yet Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” His philosophy has centered more around the theory of “and as ye sow, so shall ye reap.” Two great truths, a combination of which brings about a balance of the scales.
Although this team has found it difficult at times to pull together, out of this union has emerged four wonderful daughters who seem to possess many qualities of leadership which we seem to lack. I read the words “. . .the green beneath and the blue above, and dash and danger and life and love. . .”, while Viv held steadfastly to the admonition “. .by the sweat of thy brow shalt thou earn thy bread . . .”
Our four daughters have all been outstanding, each in her own way. Janet, our oldest, is our No. 1 scholar. Dixie has a special artistic ability. Rosemary's outstanding characteristic is her unwavering loyalty to those she loves and her devotion to the things she believes in. Pat, our youngest, has a great love and talent for music. They are all active in the LDS Church and are efficient wives, mothers, and homemakers. My fervent prayer, when they were babes, has truly been answered. That prayer always seemed to be that they would live good and righteous lives, that they would grow up to be leaders in their communities, and would always have a good and lasting influence upon those with whom they came in contact, and that they would always walk in the pathway of righteousness and truth throughout their lives that they might gain happiness for themselves and spread it around among others.
As for myself, I haven't been an ardent church-goer. This is my folly. I do have a basic creed tho which I have tried to live up to, to the best of my ability – that of trying to do some good whenever and wherever I can as I go through life each day. It was said of Jesus that “He went about doing good.” It has been my desire to live this way, but I realize that in my mortal weakness I have left much undone and have a long way to go to reach the limit of my capacity.
Testimonies are gained in many ways – I gained mine many years ago when I became humbled when sickness came knocking at our door. Pat was just a little girl and became gravely ill. Everything that could be done medically had been done and still there was no improvement. My heart sank when the doctor announced that cold winter evening that she would have to be hospitalized the next morning. Through the night I had the agonizing feeling that if she left our house she would not come back again. I didn't know what to do – my mind was in such a turmoil, I hadn't thought of God. Suddenly at five o'clock in the morning I found myself on my knees praying to Him that he would save our little girl and asking Him what I could do. As soon as I got to my feet I knew that I should call the Elders and have her administered to. Our next door neighbors at that time, was in the Bishopric so as soon as I saw that their lights were on I went to his home and asked for help. In a short time two Elders came and a prayer for her recovery was uttered. Previous to this time I had not heard or realized hormiraculous healings take place. I only know that we had prayed and did have faith and hoped that our prayers would be answered. The Elders had just left when immediately our daughter fell into a deep sleep. I kept a constant vigil over her all through the day and she did not move - only breathed – appearing to be completely out of this world – until about six o'clock that evening. Finally, she opened her eyes, looked around and smiled. She had the most radiant look upon her face that I had ever seen. She wanted to get up and play. Just like that she was healed! She was better – I cannot explain it, except to say that because of this, I know that God lives and that He does hear and answer our righteous prayers.
Well, I Grace Bunnell Wilkinson, at the age of 54, feel like the frog at the bottom of the bowl of cream, who, after going 'round and 'round finally churned the contents into butter and climbed out on top. Having reached the crest of the hill and starting down the other side, I suddenly realize that I just couldn't stay there on top deluding myself into thinking that my work was all finished. Even tho now I'll be going down the road, I'll have to be forever looking back and up for inspiration, because life is a climb and not a descent. I am reminded of the words: “So live, that, when thy summons comes to join that innumerable caravan, which moves to that mysterious realm where each shall take his place in the silent halls of death, thou go not like the quarry slave at night, scourged to his dungeon, but sustained and soothed by an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave like one who wraps the drapery of his couch about him and lies down to pleasant dreams.”
My flower of youth has faded now but I would like to include in this story a little poem which I wrote when I was a teenage girl:
Oh why must all things beautiful
Sometime wither and perish?
Was it designed in God's immortal will
That the treasures die which we cherish?
Morning exhibits the lovely flower
Bursting into blossoms fair,
Evening users forth the somber hour
Hiding this beauty, tho its' fragrance is there.
The little brooklet tumbling down the hill
Seems laden with a message to convey--
Yet tomorrow that courier may be still –
Is it because life is just that way?
No! God in His infinite wisdom
Has put into one great plan
Many perplexities which you and I
May not recognize as blessings to man.
Countless streams make the river of life
Flowing into channels where each shall turn
The wheels of eternal progression
That the fire of life may forever burn!
So let's have faith in things not seen,
And tho the flower of youth may fade
Know that sometime, somewhere---
God had a purpose for all that he made!
If we can truly believe the words of the song “Give to the world the best you have and the best will come back to you,” then we will be worthy of the wonderful heritage which is ours. We are descendants of some of the oldest, proudest and most respected families of our community, whose ancestors came from across the seas to this land in search of the freedom to live as they saw fit. Our beloved grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Bunnell, was the daughter of one Elizabeth Day, who left her royal home in England to come to America with the man she loved because she had been disowned by her proud parents who thought it a sin that she should fall in love with a hired man.
So they came for many and varied reasons and the legacy which we enjoy is our heritage – born free – to live, to laugh, to love, and to die – then, to live again!
This is the morning of November 1, 1967 and a beautiful morning it is. As I pulled back my curtains and looked at the mountains to the East of me I was awed at the beauty of what I saw. The sun is hanging like a huge ball of fire and casting its rays out over the valley – all I can see as I gaze at this scene is a picture of life as it was meant to be. My heart is filled with gratitude and thanksgiving for all of the rich blessings which I enjoy. Maybe it's because this is the beginning of the season which has always symbolized these precious things – love of life, itself, our free agency to enjoy every minute of it while endeavoring to reach a fulfillment of our destinies, each in his own way.
As I peered through the window once more I saw a lone bird winging its' way over the telephone lines and the tree tops on its' solitary flight to who knows where? Everything seemed right and it its' place – this, I am thinking, is the way it should be, the way things were meant to be from the very beginning. This is our heritage – born into the world to chart our own course, to be ever mindful that there is a just God in heaven who rules and presides over the destinies of all of us. When we fail to keep the lines of communication with Him open, then we fall off course and become lost and confused.
Well, I just peeked out my window again and to my dismay, my elusive birdie has flown away, my golden sun has gone under a cloud, and my befuddled mind has begun to wander, so forthwith I shall presently emerge from my dream world and get about my earthly tasks again, which goes to prove what I've been saying – that dreams are the things that motivate us into doing the things that we knew all along we should do, but didn't. Since I have once more resolved to do better I shall begin by stopping at my Bishops' house just two doors away and make my overdue budget payment, and from there I shall catch a few other odds and ends which need to be taken care of. Finally, as evening approaches, I shall return to my humble cottage again and to my dreams of better things to come. Oh well, it's our quiet moments of meditation and resolution that brings these important things into focus and enable us to see ourselves as others see us, which shock jolts us into immediate action and launches us on our upward climb again – like the birdie – on our flight to who knows where? This alone is what we must determine – our unfinished task in which we can employ all the wonderful attributes of our great heritage.
Transcribers Note: (Paul J Bunnell, nephew of Grace Bunnell Wilkinson) December 29, 2012:
Aunt Grace went on to write a tribute to her parents: Thomas Joel Bunnell and Zelda Maud Holdaway Bunnell. This tribute was also transcribed by myself and is filed under Grandmother Zelda's history files in my computer files. It is my intention to share these files with everyone via ancestry.com.
I remember Aunt Grace very well. She was a wonderful person – very gracious and kind to my wife Joyce and I when we first came to live in Provo when I enrolled at BYU in the Electrical Engineering program. We visited her and Uncle Viv at their home in Orem many times. They were always willing to share some fruit out of their orchard with us. We became acquainted with their daughters, especially Dixie and Pat who, as I recall, lived in the area. They were as good and as great as Aunt Grace described them to be. I am hoping to make contact with these cousins once more before I push on to the other side, to see how they are doing. I have many cousins whose origins were there in the Provo – Orem area of Utah which I have lost track of and would like to make contact with again. Being somewhat isolated from them here in Idaho, I have not made the effort to keep track of them. They are all wonderful people – I would like to think that I and my family could be included in their circle of good friends and loved ones.
Paul J Bunnell
Son of Jesse Emery Bunnell
Son of Thomas Joel Bunnell
December 29, 2012