Prodigal Son Rewritten
“Just come home, Ethan”—four words I never thought I would hear my dad say to my twenty-year-old younger brother. I almost could not even believe it. Come home? Did Dad just forget everything Ethan had put our family through in the past two years? I could not help but wonder. Then the anger set in. How could Dad do this? I was the good child. I stayed with Dad after Mom became sick, while Ethan ran away to college. I stayed. He left. He got into drugs. His grades dropped. And He lost his scholarship. Why was Dad telling him to come home now?
Two years ago my brother was the senior starting point guard at Groveton High School, graduating with a 3.9 GPA, and heading to UNC on a full-ride basketball scholarship. He was expected to do great things, maybe even reach professional some day. However, two months later, we got the first call— “Mr. Johnson, we need you to come down to the station to pick up your son.” Drunk driving. Not so bad, right? Yeah, that’s what my dad thought— “No big deal, son, you’re just havin’ a lil fun.” It was like Ethan had this strange power over Dad. Dad always seemed to make excuses for his stupidity.
Within the next few months, we must have received twenty calls like this— “Mr. Johnson, we have your son here again.” “Mr. Johnson, come on up here and get him.” “Mr. Johnson, he’s been drinkin’ again.” Unfortunately, they grew worse. Much worse. Suddenly, we were not just going to the station to pick Ethan up; we were going to the hospital to make sure he was still alive. Drugs this time. Overdose. Cocaine. My Dad could not handle it. His only son had failed him. As we walked into Room 376, I could feel the anger building inside of me. I should be feeling sorrow, compassion, worry; but instead I felt fury, hate, and jealousy. First, how could Ethan do this to Dad? Was he not thinking at all? Did he not care anymore? And second, why wasn’t my dad angry? How could he just tell him to come home? Love. He was still a father. And a father never stops loving his child. No matter what. It took me a long time to come to this realization.
A week later, Ethan was released from the hospital. He has now made a full recovery. But he never got his scholarship back. His few moments of ignorance cost him his dream. And that was punishment enough.