Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Guess who? 2008-07-08

Stockton man says stone a godsend

By Jennie Rodriguez
Record Staff Writer
July 07, 2008 6:00 AM

STOCKTON - He's been offered as much as $80,000 for the palm-size stone, but Refugio Jaime won't budge for any amount of money.

To avoid theft, Jaime shelters the rock in a secret location, away from home.

It's not a diamond or a ruby, but the stone that changed his life holds greater value to Jaime, 46, of Stockton. No bigger than a child's palm, the stone bears a design Jaime believes is an image of the Virgin of Guadalupe with Juan Diego looking up to her.

Jaime stumbled upon the stone Oct. 20, as he walked along a construction work site in Patterson where he was foreman. He cleaned the dirty stone, he said, and when he took a closer look, the figure emerged.

"It was a message," said Jaime, who calls himself an ex-chain smoker and drunk. "God sent it to me so I would no longer drink."

From that day forward, Jaime quit drinking and smoking, cold turkey.

"Something happened inside of me," he said.

Though Jaime began an internal metamorphosis, his finances took a turn for the worse. He lost his job in the construction downturn, and the two homes he owned went into foreclosure.

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