He could have been the inspiration for Charlie Brown: guileless innocence and earnest curiosity.
Stevie, his younger sister and parents lived in a garage apartment behind us when I was very young. Another young family occupied the upstairs apartment and all of us kids were of similar ages.
Stevie's father was a massive guy and in the Coast Guard. He was the only person who could approach his scary German Shepherd who, it seemed, spent his entire life chained to a post on their back porch. Mr. T. was domineering and not particularly fond of his only son. Mrs. T. was a tiny little woman, intimidated by her husband.
Stevie was a little awkward and shy, but he worked hard at trying to insert himself into others' lives. He might have been a little slow mentally but I never saw him get angry. We went through school together then lost track of each other after graduating from high school. I went off to college and Stevie went off to work.
He died about this time last year. The cause was not mentioned but the abundant appreciation and love of his many friends was staggering. I felt ashamed for not making more of an effort to befriend him when I had the chance.
The moral of this story is that each of us has the potential to be a significant force for good in others' lives. Stevie's legacy is one worth remembering. His kindness and acceptance of others' faults and failings earned him respect and love.I wish I'd been smart enough to recognize and appreciate those qualities when I was four.
[left to right: Stevie, me, my big brother]