I don’t remember him in junior high when I first moved to Thomasville. It was around the middle of my eighth grade year that we moved to town .. my dad accepting a managerial job within the Social Security Administration office there in the quaint, quiet, small town. We moved to get away from the hustle and bustle, danger and noise of south Atlanta, our suburb being swallowed up by Hartsfield Airport. It was a tough transition, but a good move. That summer Stone and I went on a youth group trip with the Methodist church that we both attended. We didn’t have the same circle of friends in high school … his circle was almost exclusively boys who camped, fished and roughhoused together, getting into rambunctious-boy-type trouble, but nothing serious. They were good guys … but didn’t appear to be interested much in being friends with girls.
After graduation, Stone and I attended the same college. I had no vehicle at school so, on occasion, he would give me a ride back to our home town. I can tell you, these trips taught me
what a genuinely, nice guy he was. I was comfortable in the seat beside him.
When he drove me home from college those few weekends, I learned to love pick up trucks and driving “three on the tree.” I still remember the day … some 28 years ago …. that he told me that he liked it when I rode with him because I didn’t take over his radio. (Many girls who crawled into his cab commandeered his radio station without regard to his likes and dislikes.) He taught me to love The Cars. For 28 years, I have thought of him when I heard “Let’s Go” played on a random radio station in a vehicle or a store. His truck had no air conditioning, so I learned how to place that small, triangular window in just the right position so as to receive the greatest air circulation inside the truck. We graduated in 1983 and went different directions.
In the photo above, Stone is on my far right at the photo edge. I am the girl almost in the middle with the shorter hair. The girl to my right is my sweet friend Mary Ann and the one to my left is Ashley’s mom, my friend, Karen.
Stone came from college one weekend in May 1984 to attend my wedding. He listened to Kenneth play the wedding march as I walked the aisle, the two of them good friends. I still remember how much it meant to me that he came to my wedding … a college junior, living in another city … a full year after junior college graduation. I could very well be wrong, but I don’t think I had seen him or even talked to him since the day pictured above.
Years after marrying, we bought an old truck. I thought of Stone from time to time … wondering if he still had his truck. I wondered where life had taken him and what filled his days. When I went home years later, I went into his father’s men’s clothing store in downtown Thomasville to ask his brother where Stone lived and how he was doing. In the last ten years, I have googled him a few times …
and looked for him when I joined Facebook …
but he was elusive.
Two years ago, a small group of old friends gathered together at Dave & Buster’s in Atlanta. Mary Ann was the catalyst to getting this little gathering together. We sat and dined and talked and laughed for … eight hours. Most of us had not seen each other since the end of college almost thirty years earlier.
Having had such a nice visit, several of us wanted to try to bring together a larger group of people for a little bit longer bit of time. This summer, we tried again.
With my high school reunion coming up in September, I decided to contact our coordinator and ask if she knew how I could locate Stone. On the Monday before we met, I reached him. He lived less than forty-five minutes away from the place we would be meeting. He had a Sunday morning commitment, but could come on Saturday and spend the day with us. I was so excited to have a chance to catch up on the wheres, hows and whens of thirty years.
Not more than a week before, I was in Starbucks and saw that The Cars had gotten back together to release a new album. I thought of Stone when I saw those cds sitting in the basket. This was the prompting that made me think about inviting him to our get together at Lake Lanier. Once I found him, I swung through the drive through and asked for a cd. It was so neat to gift it to him and let him know that I really had thought of him through the years.
I mentioned here that it was very difficult to tell him
that I was part of a failed marriage.
Somehow …. I can be compassionate with others and understand
when they fail ….
because, ya know, some things … just can’t be helped.
You can only do so.much.
But, me? I still wonder …
“Isn’t there some.thing.else I could have done? Changed? Modified?
Isn’t there some way I could have done a better job?
If I had been thinner/sweeter/kinder/more obedient/more beautiful/more …… ?
Couldn’t I have changed things? Fixed things?
It’s hard to accept …..
It was hard to tell him that I was divorced.
Other than that awkward exchange,
I thoroughly enjoyed catching up.
One of my favorite parts of the weekend was when we sat here.
Several of us looked at photos that Stone had brought along of he and Jet. They had gone camping at Providence Canyon not so long before. I pined. I’ve always wanted to go there. It’s not so far from our college alma mater, Andrew College, in the western part of the state, but is not a place that we have ever ventured. Of late, my sweet van just won’t make it that distance. One day, I’ll visit, but that afternoon, I was happy to look at Stone’s gorgeous photos and watch him beam as he shared about his passion for camping with his son.
I always travel with my Macbook, so I was able to show him photos of our recent trip. Joy and I had just returned from a trip to Congaree where we experienced our first primitive excursion. It was so neat to talk about the different state parks we had visited … and know that our paths had been somewhat repeatedly criss-crossed through the years. Stone said, “We’ll have to camp together some time.” I remember thinking how nice that would be. I could be more adventurous because there would be a male adult nearby. I was comfortable with him … his was an already established friendship. I knew I would be safe. He told me that he never thought we would camp together. But, I was immediately hopeful. I knew there was a Dulcimer Jam coming up at Mistletoe State Park where Joy and I often spent weekends. If there were any camping spots left, Joy & I were planning on being there. Maybe he would join us?
Sunday morning, while Stone taught Sunday school to four year olds at home, I took my kayak out on the water. After lunch, he came back over to spend the afternoon swimming, talking and playing in the boat. Many of our friends had to leave, so the group was down to just a few. Kenneth and Stone and I swam while Karen and Mary Ann talked.
As long as it took me to let go of the idea that I couldn’t re-marry, I knew I wouldn’t go “looking” for a man to date.
As little as he said, it was clear that Stone had no intentions of dating again. Women were too much work. As much as I like Stone, I never expected to spend time with him away from a campground. From June to present, we’ve had a chance to camp several times. We have visited Norcross and the boys have come here to Augusta. Joy and Jet get along really well.
But, most of all, there has been time to learn that
time has treated Stone well. All of his positive attributes remain, but are richer, deeper and denser. The draw for me is strong. The three things that create in me the most respect and admiration are his love of God, his tenacious focus and his strong self-discipline …. well …. those things and the fact that he loves rocks, too!!
I can ask him a question about God’s activity in his life and he has an answer. He has already been contemplating the topic. Whatever job he is doing, he is doing that job. He doesn’t look to the right or glance to the left. He stays focused on the job at hand. He cannot be distracted. As much as I like to toy with him, he remains firm in many areas and I am grateful. It is a glorious, good thing.
Our likes and passions overlap with enough fringe to make life interesting. Our passions include the outdoors, trees, rocks, camping, hiking and biking. We both enjoy cooking and are completely comfortable in a kitchen. He needs no babysitter – I think he likes and cares about people as much or more than I do. I know few men that are as at ease with friends and strangers, alike. I have a creative streak that is whimsical and spontaneous. He is analytic and plans, plans, plans. Joy and I are pretty even keel, but still very female. The testosterone that rules the house in Norcross is liken to nothing I have been around … ever. Stone and Jet have as much to teach us about men as Joy and I have to offer about estrogen. He is more than family friendly … he is family focused. He understands his relationship with his son and it is of utmost importance to him. Other priorities fall aside to keep his relationship strong and growing.
And my three children recognize him as a good man with a positive influence on them, on me and on the world around us.
I am incredibly grateful for his friendship.
Stone, thanks for letting me in.
I am blessed to have you in my life.