THE PRODIGAL CHILD
A Short Story
Written by Dr. Rick McGrath, Ph.D.
It was just a few short years ago so it seemed. In reality it was nearly 15 years
ago. Always fresh in our mind, our daughter Becky decided one day that she was old
enough to go it alone. Something happens when a child turns 16 years of age or so it was
that way with us. A beautiful child was Becky. Sweet and caring. Always had a smile on
After her sixteenth birthday Becky changed. Her mother and I couldn’t keep her
in school. Day after day she would cut school and go somewhere else for the day. We
would get the call from her high school attendance office informing us Becky was absent
and wanted to see if she was alright. You can imagine our surprise.
“Becky, we need to speak with you honey. We just received a phone call from
your school saying you were absent today. Do you have an explanation?” “No, not really.
I just didn’t feel like staying in my classes today.” “Honey, where did you go?”
“Nowhere dad. I went across the street and a few of us hung out at the park.” “Becky
you know how important it is to stay in school. You know you won’t be able to get a
good job if you drop out.” I know, I know, said Becky.”
Eventually all of this misbehavior continued and we finally had it out. “Becky,
come in here. We need to talk with you. What’s really going on with you? We continue
to get calls from your school“. “Look dad, Becky said“. I don’t want to go to school
anymore. It’s just not for me. In fact I would like to get emancipated. I don’t like living
here either“. “What are you talking about Becky, her mother said. You know you are to
young to go out on your own.” “No I am not, said Becky. I am old enough to figure things out myself“.
Being responsible parents we weren’t going to allow this at all. We refused to
grant her wish. So Becky took matters into her own hands. She ran away and stayed
away for months. Her mother and I were crushed. Our baby girl was missing and we
couldn’t find her. We prayed and prayed. “Dear God please keep our baby safe. Bring
her home to us. You know we love her so much. Devil you take your hands off our little
girl. She belongs to us“, I would yell out in the back yard at night.
Finally out of the wild blue Becky reappeared. She was with an older guy maybe
twice her age. Apparently the both of them were on drugs. Drugs of the worse kind.
Heroin! “Oh Becky we are so glad you are home!” “Dad I am sick“, said Becky. “I need
to go to the hospital. I think I am going to die“. So we rushed Becky to the hospital
taking her to the emergency room. The doctors came out and told us that in fact she was
on heroin and almost overdosed.
Upon returning home we had a series of changes and decisions to make. Becky
being one of 6 children became the focus. As her father, I was in further denial. I tried to
find her real help but there wasn’t any available for children her age. If she was an adult
and you could afford the rehab it was available. Living in the county we lived in, not
much was available. We did find a source that provided daily doses of methadone to help
heroin addicts come down off the drug. In Becky’s case it didn’t help at all.
One day Becky decided to leave again. Deciding living under our parental thumb
wasn’t her way of living. Off she went back to the same evil person who introduced her
to heroin in the first place. At least for awhile I would stop by for a hug and to say I love
One thing all drug addicts have in common is the need for money. Becky was no
exception. She had to feed her habit and the drug suppliers do not do credit. Eventually,
things around the house went missing. At first they were items we didn’t use often and
went unnoticed. Soon bigger items went missing. “Becky“, I said, “Where in the heck is
our blender. It isn’t where your mom usually keeps it“. “I don’t know dad, I haven’t seen
While at work a few weeks later I received a call from the bank wanting to know
if Joni, my wife had written a check for someone to do yard work. A few days earlier
while at the bank, I was teasing the tellers that my wife was going out of town and I was
going to be home alone. The bank manager who over heard it remember me saying that
so she thought it prudent to contact me just in case. I asked the manager who called me
to keep him there and I would be right there. When I arrived at the bank I asked the guy
to explain himself as my wife was not in town that weekend. He told me my daughter
Becky had given him a check to cover her drugs.
Everything was out of control. Becky was stealing from us, taking things that
belonged to her two younger sister and now this. Our oldest daughter who was 17 years
older than Becky finally said, “enough is enough! Dad if you won’t call and have social
services intervene I will,” said her sister Rita. I was furious. Older daughters do what
they do and she made the call. They came an took her from the home for awhile. After a
court hearing they release her into our care. It wasn’t long before Becky got up and ran
away again. Back to the same undesirable that got her in this mess in the first place.
Not long after that we were contacted by the local authorities that Becky had been
arrested with her boyfriend for armed robbery. At gun point they robbed his aunt. Becky
was arrested and put in juvenile hall awaiting trial. Fortunately the judge went easy on
her. Her boyfriend received nine years in prison. Becky was awarded to State custody
and sent to a rehabilitation center several counties away.
At least now the cycle seem to be broken. She was away from home, receiving
counseling and interfacing with other girls her age who were struggling with similar
problems. For several months things went well. On a March evening we received a call
from the facility that Becky had escaped and ran off with another girl. They decided to go
to the girl’s home for safety and cover. Fortunately, the parents who had been going
through a similar ordeal with there daughter called us to report Becky was with them.
Her mother and I asked the kind folks to please hold Becky and we would drive over and
pick her up.
Joni and I drove several hours to pick our daughter up. When we got there Becky
understood and allowed us to drive her home. We kept her for the night at our house and
in the morning we encouraged her to turn herself in. She did and spent several months in
lock up at the local juvenile hall facility. This time gave Becky a chance to reflect on her
own life and what she wanted from it. Becky decide that the life she was living was no
way to live at all. While in the lock up she completed her G.E.D. and received her high
school diploma. She had decided it was better to come home and live with family who
Needing work to keep her busy, my firm needed someone to hold down the front
desk position. She helped run our company as well and assisted in managing the 20
employees we had on board. Becky had made a miraculous recovery! She married and had 3 beautiful girls and now is working for herself.
With God’s help, his healing hand all things are possible!
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