A weeping Britannie Wilks laid her head on the top of her father’s coffin, still in disbelief that she has lost her only remaining parent, revered for being humble and kind.
Evon St Aubyn Wilks, called Blacks and Leon, 45, was found lifeless in his British apartment 10 February 2022. His relatives had raised an alarm regarding his whereabouts after they could not contact him via phone for a three-day period. He succumbed to an ailment.
Wilks’ body was brought back into his native Jamaica for burial Tuesday, March 22, in his family plot, located in his rural childhood community of Top Hill, Lluidas Vale Division, St Catherine.
Born 24 October 1976, Wilks was the fifth child for Mellard Wilks and the late Bernice Burrell-Wilks.
He attended Top Hill Primary School before migrating to England, where he served in the British army for a few years. He later became a security guard.
Chevel Johnson, niece of the deceased, in the eulogy, said: “Everyone loves my uncle; he was the most humble soul and I think that is the kindest thing that can be said about anyone.”
According to Johnson, her uncle did not forget relatives he left back in Jamaica.
“Whenever the gas finished under the pot, the light bill was due, you needed a lunch money or just a little pocket change, he was the most reliable and he wore his heart on his sleeve. He gave until he had nothing left; he loved with all his heart,” she told the gathering.
She added: “Uncle Leon will be dearly missed by us all. We cherish every memory and every laughter… The man worked up to the day he died. Regardless of his illness and the pain he felt, he put the well-being of his family above himself. If that is not legendary, I don’t know what is.”
Another niece, Sherika Lothian, who broke down in tears numerous times throughout the proceedings, expressed disappointment that she didn’t get an opportunity to bid her “joyful, kind, and ever-smiling” uncle goodbye.
“Having had you for an uncle was the greatest blessing. The family chain is broken now and nothing seems the same. But, as God takes us one by one, the chain will link again,” Lothian said in the remembrance. “I didn’t get the chance to say goodbye. I didn’t get a chance to talk to you, and it is burning inside. But God knows best; he knows the reason why he takes you from us.”
Lothian also noted that her mother, Claudette Johnson, who lives in the United States and was unable to attend the funeral, had a close relationship with her late brother. Her mother, in a poem read on her behalf, proclaimed her love for Wilks and expressed disbelief over his death and not getting the last chance to say farewell. Other family members who participated in the thanksgiving service, which was held at the Life-Giving Word of God Seventh Day Adventist Church in Top Hill, included the deceased man’s grand-nieces Abrielle Folks and Daie-Shennell Ormby.
Friends were also involved.
Kathleen Patience, better known as Miss Tim, in a tribute, recalled Wilks being a close friend of three of her sons during childhood. She stated that he displayed loyalty from early, and so reached school late sometimes because he would not leave his friends behind. “It is very sad to hear that he died,” declared Patience.
Ann-Marie Hall-Rowe, a primary school classmate of the late Wilks, said, although he migrated, he was down-to-earth whenever he returned to Jamaica.
“Him remember everybody… Losing someone like that is hard,” she said, adding that Wilks was given the alias ‘Establish It’ while in school because he had written that phrase instead of the answers requested on an assignment.
The thanksgiving service, in the meantime, was not all gloomy. Persons could not hold back laughter when Wilks’ relatives played voice-notes of him trying to sing two songs – “Greatest Love Of All” by Whitney Houston, and “Shower Me With Your Love” by Surface.
The family also recited a prayer written by Wilks. It reads: “My Dear Father, I am here asking for your help. In Jesus’ words he said, ‘Call unto me and I will hear you and answer your prayer’. I need your help, Father, so I can support other families and friends and even strangers. In the name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.”
Following the thanksgiving service, presided over by Pastor A. Holding, the funeral directors, Douglas-Brown, in brilliant afternoon sunshine, transported the traditional British coffin to the family plot, where the lid was slid away to facilitate viewing, amid weeping and the singing of traditional funeral songs that ended with the interment.
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