Steve Clarke or “Little Stevie” as he was known to many, was my friend. Stevie died in the early hours of December 3rd, 2011 at the age of 47.
I first met Stevie in the drop-in at PNC. Not too tall, he had a slender build, reddish-brown hair, a ruddy complexion and piercing eyes. He liked to tease [a lot!], though he was able to hear when things went too far and always quick to apologize. He liked to make people smile and hoped that his humour helped people have a better day.
Stevie lived life hard. Years of substance abuse took a great toll on his body. As we got to spend more and more time together I was entrusted with stories of his past and how they impacted his present. Stevie longed for community and bravely pursued it at PNC. Sometimes it meant plunking himself down in a chair in the little office and pouring out the pain. Other-times it meant staggering in and falling asleep on the couch in the corner. Stevie discovered that PNC was a safe place to be.
Over time I came to be known as “Stevie’s Erinn”. He would walk into PNC and yell, “where’s my Erinn?”- I can still hear his voice. Often-times he would find me, ask for a token and what’s for lunch. Most times though he would check in and ask how I was, always determined to make me smile. Stevie became fiercely protective of me. And I in turn, of him. Our relationship wasn’t easy and on occasion admittedly, infuriating. Most of all though it was marked by love and respect.
Today was my first day back in the PNC drop-in after a time of sabbatical. One of our interim staff handed me a black coat while we stood in the office. It was Stevie’s, given to PNC in order to remember. I held it in my hands, smelled it and cried. What a gift.
I was so pleased to be welcomed home today by my many friends in Parkdale. And in a way I felt welcomed by Stevie.
It’s good to be back.
6 thoughts on “Little Stevie”
You dont know me, but I knew Steven as a child. From 1972-1979, me and my brother Jamie, along with Jimmy (Stevens brother) , were inseperable. We played and ran up and down Wright Ave from sunup to sundown. The last time I saw Steven was about 1995. He was exactly as you described and exactly as I remember him. As mischievious as a 9 year, he also knew when to pull back and make it right. I grew up right across the street from Steven, so he was well aware of the abuse my siblings and I were receiving at the hands of my stepfather, Tony. In all those years of torment, Steven , little Steven, all of 12 years old at the time, was the only one who had the nerve to stand up to Tony. And boy I will never forget it. I miss him and I thank you for your kind words about him. Darlene
thanks erin for entering such a poignant tribute to a dear man, i knew little stevie as a boy. just lfike you described piercing blue eyes a mop of blondish hair and yes if he could get a rise out of somebody, that seemed to be sooo much fun! he was very friendly and af times imposed himself on people oblivious to the fact that theyd rather he went away. i will never forget this one time after pestering non stop the ice-cream truck driver to let him get inside and serve ice cream. well the day came! and there he was behind the counter sporting a crisp white cap and apron. the grin on his face was from ear to ear and his awsome blue eyes were sparkling like diamonds as he was handing customers their cones with two arms that were sporting streaks of mud from wrist to elbow
Darlene and Melina- I’m grateful to hear about your relationships with Stevie. Thank you both for sharing. It’s good to remember.
Ahh I’m missing my brother Steven right now (I do quite often) and thought I’d come back and re-read this lovely and touching tribute to him.
It was really nice to read Darlene and Melina’s responses. They put a smile on my face.. thanks ladies.
Darlene: I remember Steven standing up to Tony too. He was like that. He didn’t really care how big you were, inside he was always bigger than anyone.
Melina: I didn’t know the ice cream truck story, but I could completely picture every single part of your story, and I can totally see Steven beaming in the ice cream truck. I can still see his little boy face sometimes, and his piercing blue eyes. I miss them more than I can say.
Thanks again Erinn for everything you’ve done for Steven, and for giving me some very kind words to read about him whenever I really miss him. xo..
I can only imagine the gaping hole left in your heart Laurie. But please know that Stephen will always have a special place in our hearts too because of who he was. A loving sweet gentle person not deserving the hard blows that life dealt him. Stephen has peace now and nothing will hurt him again. Rest assured Laurie that God is Love and you will see your brother again! Daniel 12; 2, Stephen was a good person and God Who can read hearts knows that! God knows of your many losses and pain and is there for you Laurie. Best wishes as you enjoy one of the most precious gift God gave and created ‘Lilly’. luv u