Steve A. Stone
Dear Friends and Patriots,
I have a cousin who almost shares my name. I'm not talking about my good cousin Stephen Stone, the one married to the lovely DeeAnn and living in Utah. And, I'm not talking about the famous Cy Young-winning baseball pitcher, who went on to spend 14 years in the Chicago Cubs broadcast booth with "Take Me Out To The Ball Game" Harry Caray. He's a great guy in his own right, but we're not remotely related. No, I'm talking about another cousin named Steve. He used to live in Grand Bay, AL, just 4 miles south of me. I never knew him when he was living in the same town, but I did know he was here. Friends and co-workers kept running into him. They'd tell me about him, but the only thing I'd say when they talked about him was, "I just hope he's better looking than me." I never sought him out, nor did he seek me.
About two years after I stopped hearing about Steve, he phoned and left a message on my answering machine asking me to call him. He said he had a question he needed answered. Because I kept getting mysterious phone calls from strange women who claimed they knew me, I was a bit skeptical of Steve and waited two weeks before calling him back. Irene, my dear and now departed wife, kept bugging me to call and find out what he wanted. I finally broke down and called him. We chatted for a bit about where he was living and when he left Grand Bay, then I asked him what his question was. He said, "I want to know if we're kin, and I'm pretty sure if we are, you'll know." Now, that is an intriguing statement, isn't it? I was raised in Texas and until I started doing genealogy in 2000, I never knew I had any kin in Alabama.
I didn't have Steve on my Stone tree as far as I knew, and was a bit hesitant to pursue that line of inquiry with him, but I figured it wouldn't do me any harm, so I asked, "What was your great-grandfather's full name?" He was quiet for a moment, then said, "Jeremiah Stone, Jr." I replied, "No, Steve, that's not right." His reply to that was amusing to me. He said, "I should know my own great-grandfather's name; what are you talking about?" So I said, "Steve, Jeremiah Stone, Jr. died in 1864 on a Confederate troop train that was laying over for the night in Greenville, AL. He had pneumonia. He's not your great-grandfather. Think about it. Your great grandaddy died in the 1880s, not in 1864." He was silent for a while, then said, "Golly, Steve, you're right! My great-grandfather was named William Almuth Stone, and he was one of Jeremiah Stone, Jr.'s sons." I told him he was right, and that we were cousins indeed. He then asked me how we were kin. I told him his great-great-great-grandfather, Jeremiah Stone, Sr. was the next younger brother to my own great-great-great-grandfather, William H. Stone." He asked if I could prove it. Of course I could!
All that happened in 2004, when the family tree was only about 60 pages long. It's grown to 435 pages now, and will grow another 30 or 40 pages this year. I kept in touch with Steve after that one phone call, and Irene and I attended his son Patrick's Summa-Cum-Laude graduation from Auburn University. I've visited Steve's home twice and he and his bride, Charlotte, have overnighted in mine once.
Just over seven years ago, I had Steve on my mind. I kept telling myself, "I need to call Steve and catch up." I didn't, though. I hadn't seen or heard from him in a couple of years. One day my phone rang, and it was him on the phone. We chit-chatted for a bit, and I asked Steve where he was—something told me he didn't just call me because he missed me. He was in Ocean Springs, MS, staying at a motel. He and Miss Charlotte had a spat and Steve had exited, stage left. He'd been in town for 5 days already. As he was talking, I thought I needed to peel the onion and get right to the heart of why he called me. I asked him if he'd had any trouble since he was in town. He admitted the night before he'd been arrested in Pascagoula for being disorderly in a bar. He then added, "But, they let me go today." I'm no dummy. I may have never been arrested, but I know the cops don't just let you go. I asked what the police needed before he could leave town without incurring a warrant for his arrest. He told me he had to pay a $420 fine, or he'd get reported to the Alexander City, AL Police Department and might get picked up when he got home. I then asked if he would be at his motel during lunchtime the next day. He said he would. I told him I wanted to come see him then, on my lunch break from work, and I'd try to help him. He said he'd be there, waiting on me.
The next day, I found Steve at the motel, sitting outside the door, drinking whisky out of a plastic cup. I shook hands with him and realized he was a tiny bit soused. I told him we needed to have a heart-to-heart, and he invited me into the room to sit down. I told him I didn't have time to sit; I had to get back to work, and I had to make it a very short visit. I reached into my pocket and handed him four $100 bills and one $20 bill. I told him I'd give it to him under three conditions: 1. he had to take the money to the Pascagoula cop shop that afternoon and square things with them; 2. he had to agree to go home the next morning; and 3. he had to listen to the story that went with the money. He agreed to all three of my terms, so I sat down then and told him the story. This is it:
I was in the habit of squirreling away money. I'd have a $10 or $20 bill left over from a shopping trip and would put whatever was excess in the pants pocket of a pair of slacks that hung in my closet. When I accumulated $100 I'd take the bills to the bank and swap them for a $100 bill. I'd been doing it for years. It was my way of building a Christmas fund, which I used to buy presents for Irene without her seeing the bills and knowing what I was buying for her.
One day I dipped my hand in that pocket and came up empty. There were supposed to be four $100 bills there, but there was nothing. I thought Irene had found my secret stash and had the money, so I just waited for her to say something about it. I waited almost six weeks, and she'd said nary a word. I thought that was odd, because if she'd found that money she was certain to have accused me of something. There was not a peep from her, so I thought maybe the money had dropped out of the pocket, somehow, and was lying on the floor. I went into the closet and looked all around and saw nothing. I considered that extremely strange, but thought maybe Irene was just going to wait me out and see how long it took me to mention the missing money. Well, I knew better than to do that. I just kept my mouth shut.
After about a year, I started thinking about the money again and got down on my hands and knees for a good look. Nope, no money. I moved everything in the bottom of the closet; looked at and under it all, even my bowling ball. No, that $400 just wasn't there. Yet, Irene continued to say nada. It was a mystery, but I just didn't have time, nor did I have the inclination to worry about $400 vanishing. I just put it out of my head.
Another year or so went by. It was just over 7 years ago and I was in the closet looking for a pair of house slippers Irene was complaining about. She'd bought a pair of blue, quilted leather slippers for me that I'd never worn. She waited ten years to complain that I didn't appreciate any gift she ever bought me (it's true, but not for the reasons Irene thought). So, I went into that closet to find those slippers so I could put in an appearance with them on my feet. I thought it might get her off my back for an hour or two. When I got down in the closet this time, what did I see lying in plain sight? You have to know—it was the neatly folded four $100 bills. I just said, "Well, at last, here you are. I need to put you somewhere else while I think about this." I went to the downstairs bedroom and was about to put the money in a bureau drawer under all my socks when I thought, "Maybe I need to put an extra $20 bill with it." I took a $20 bill out of my pocket and wrapped it around those $100s. Then, about two weeks later, I received the call from Steve. As soon as he told me the Pascagoula police were into him for $420 that he didn't have, I understood why I'd found that money and why I wrapped the extra $20 bill around those $100s. The next morning I put the money in my pocket, and at lunchtime I took it to Steve and handed it over.
Once I told Steve that story I asked him if he believed in God. He said he did. I then said, "Then you need to understand that the money isn't mine. I found it after it had been gone for over two years. There was no reason to lose it and no reason to find it, either. There wasn't any reason to add a $20 bill to it, but I did. So, the way I understand this, I was supposed to bring it here to help you. It's not my money—it's yours. Now, keep your promises—take this money to bail you out, and then leave tomorrow like you said, and everything's going to work out just fine." Steve tried to thank me, but I told him I was only the messenger. He needed to thank God for helping him, not me. I said, "Steve, you've been given a chance. Don't screw it up." Then I said my goodbye and left.
A week later, an envelope came in the mail. Inside was a check for $420, signed by Charlotte Stone. I picked up the phone right away and called Steve and Charlotte's number. Charlotte answered. I told her I'd received her check and was only calling to explain that I had to either return it or tear it up. She just needed to tell me which she'd prefer. Charlotte protested and said I had to keep the money. I told her I couldn't because it wasn't mine. I told her what was lost was not found. What I found was for Steve, not me. Now he had what he needed and no one owed me a thing. I told her she just needed to believe it and accept it just the way I did. She finally relented and said if I changed my mind to let her know. I told her she needed to think a bit harder about it all; then I ripped the check up while she was on the line.
Steve still tells me he owes me. But he doesn't. He's paid me back many times over for a debt he didn't owe. In our last conversation, just two weeks ago, he referred to when he became clean and sober. He says that was seven years ago. Timing is everything, isn't it?
Do you want to see what Steve can do now and what he's been up to? Look at the link below and know that what you see is him doing only one of the multitude of things he excels at. My cousin is a true artistic genius. But, he was only a primitive when under the influence. Sober, he's become what he was always intended to be. I was just an instrument used to help get his attention so he could learn how to live right. That was all. None of the rest was my doing.
Here's that link: https://www.eaglesrestpark.org/projects.
Steve may not like it that I wrote this. If he doesn't, I'll understand. But, the truth of the matter to me is he's always been a special kind of person, but was held back by circumstances and habit. Now he's blossoming into the man God intended him to be. He's happy. Charlotte is happy. I'm happy. Those who see his art are happy, too. Steve is bringing interest and joy into the world. The video at the link above isn't even half of what Steve does. He sings and records country music tunes he writes. He's a good guitar picker. He paints in oils and pastels and is an excellent charcoal artist. He carves in wood as well as marble. Every aspect of his artistry has improved dramatically in the past few years. He's come into his own and the quality of his work is obvious to anyone who is privileged to see it. It just makes me proud to say he's a kinsman of mine.
I'm going to Georgia in a couple of weeks. I have several chores to do there. Perhaps I'll tell you about all of them, later on. I'll be stopping in on Steve and Charlotte to catch up and see what he's been up to, live and in person. I know he has a lot to show me. I know I'm going to love seeing it all, too.
Steve© Steve A. Stone
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