Ricardo had sat in the same prison cell for four years. His life seemed as though it was over before it got started well. His mom died while he was in prison, and they took him to the funeral in handcuffs. His dad died of alcohol poisoning alone, and he had no idea where his two sisters were. He turned twenty-one in a few days and had no future for himself. "This life is only for the ones with family, and it looks like I have none," he told his cellmate. 'At least you know who your parents were."
"Hey Ricardo," pack your stuff. You go to your new home, The Rehab place." Ha-ha, the guards just chuckled. They knew Ricardo would have a hard time there too. They were required to put in three applications for jobs a week there, see their parole officer once a week, and have a strict curfew. "Yeah, I got you!! Anything better than Jackson." Ricardo gave his cellmate his reading materials and toiletries as he left. "Man, thanks. I'll see you on the outside soon." "Okay, Sam, keep your nose clean!!"
Ricardo got to the rehab facility, and a massive man with tattoos and a beard met him at the door. "Hey, I am Nick, the head of this house. You are in apartment 9. Rules: Keep the apartment clean. You have three other roomies. Respect their privacy. No drugs or alcohol, no girls. In by 10. Put in three applications a week, and when you get a job, you are to pay forty percent rent, forty percent you save, and live on twenty percent. You take turns cooking and cleaning in the main hall every day. That is how you feed yourself. You make yourself a lunch to take to work. Any questions?" "What about visitors?" "Visitation is on Sundays; after a month, you can visit them on the weekend. You must be home by 6pm for a drug test on Sunday night."
It was Monday morning, and Ricardo was up early. "I will not get a job after being in prison for four years. I have never worked and have no experience. What shall I look for." Darius, his roommate, told him to try for something like dishwasher and busboy at a restaurant first." They usually always hiring." So, at 11 o clock Ricardo started hitting restaurants that served dining experiences. He went into Steak and More and talked to the manager. First question:" Have you ever had a job." "No, sir." "Do you have a criminal record?" "Yes, sir, but I did my time." "I will keep your application on file. Thanks for coming in." Second Restaurant and Third Restaurant responded similarly. It was four o clock, and the day was really depressing. These managers were probably putting my name on a no-hire list as being a criminal.
As Ricardo was walking through town, he saw a soup kitchen and decided to check it out. Maybe he could volunteer and run into some contacts that also volunteered to find work. He went in, and a humble man named Monty and his wife Doris were serving. Monty said," Would you like something to eat today, son? You look like you got the weight of the world on your shoulders. "Well, I'm not homeless." "That's okay. You don't have to be homeless. It looks like you need a friend." "Where I come from, I don't have any friends. I just got out of prison. I have been there since I was seventeen, and I only have two sisters, and I have no idea where they are. I was hanging out with the wrong kids in high school on drugs, and we robbed a drug store. So, I did four years. I have no skills. I did get my high school in prison. I am on parole and trying to find a job with no luck." "Where are you staying?' "I am staying at The Rehab House." "I see." "Thanks for the food; I better be going and get ready for tomorrow."
Every day, the same response, "We will keep your application on file." Ricardo was getting so discouraged that his temptation was, 'What's the use?' He stopped at the store, bought a six-pack of beer, sat at the park, and drank every beer. He went stumbling home, and who was there but his parole officer. "Well, I do not have to give you a breathalyzer, do I?" Ricardo decided to stay silent. Off to jail he went and 'DO Not Pass GO.' He would probably do the
the remainder of his 10-year stretch, and who would care.
NO Mom, NO Dad, NO Family.
Monty and Doris were at home eating dinner when he had a sad look on his face. "Honey, what is troubling you this evening?" "Well, Doris, that young man that has never had a chance in life and is having a hard time trying to make up for it." "Okay, so I know that look; what are you thinking, Monty?" "I really want to help this young man." "He just needs to be pulled and pushed. I see something in this young man. He is not evil, just lost, and he is redeemable." "Okay, so go talk with him."
Monty went to the Rehab House, and they told him he was in jail and probably would not be coming back. They told them the reason why. Monty took off to the prison, and because he was a pillar in the community, they let him in to see Ricardo. "Ricardo, I have a good feeling about you, and I know you have had some bad breaks in life. You need a mentor to teach you." "Well, I go to court in about an hour, and they want to revoke my parole. That would
be six more years with no hope of learning anything, Monty, except hopelessness." "Look, I know your parole officer and the judge.
Let me go in with you and talk."
"Your Honor, I would like to say a few words on behalf of this young man. He has a good heart and has not had a chance to make a mark in life. He has no family and no job. I am willing to help him in the construction business and teach him the ways of life if you allow him to prove himself to be a fit young adult." "Well, Monty, you are willing to take on this young man into your home also?" "Yes, sir." "Okay, we will give this a one-year probation period and then come back and check the progress." "Yes, sir."
"Well, you look like a strong guy. Would you like to learn construction?" "Yes, what kind and where?" "It is my framing business, and I have two subdivisions going on right here in town. We start at eight am to whenever. I pay you fifteen dollars an hour to start. After thirty days, twenty an hour, and if you keep learning, you can go far with my company. Just keep your nose clean and work hard. I just got a good feeling about you, kid." "Thank you, Monty. No one has ever had faith in me before. Always knocked me down." "Well, young man, go get your things from the halfway house and come home with us, and we will give you a new lease on life. Would you like that, Ricardo? Rather the Lord is going to help you." "Yes, sir, I would like to learn a better way of life. My mom and dad had a better way; they served the Lord when I was small. But then it was like the enemy came storming through our family. I could have made better choices, but I plan on making them now."
Ricardo started working at the construction site every day for a month. He received that pay hike and then, after six months, another hike. Ricardo was a hard worker, started saving his money for the future, and bought himself a work truck and the tools to go with it. He started learning the trade like a pro.
One Saturday night, Monty asked Ricardo to be ready to go to the house of the Lord and praise the one behind all his success. "I know, Ricardo, because he is behind all my success. When I was your age, I fell into some serious trouble. I came across the border illegally, and some guys jumped me, and while defending myself, I killed one. I spent ten years in prison. While I was in prison, there came a church group, and there was a lady named Doris. She showed me the gospel and a God who will forgive you. She has been my wife for thirty years, and the Lord has made me a good man and taught me how to make a good living. So, he showed me that you, too, were redeemable." "Okay, I will go."
That night Ricardo gave his life to the Lord. He started going to church and working harder to make a future for himself. Later that year, he met a beautiful lady named Lilah. They started sitting together in church. She had long, beautiful red hair and piercing blue eyes. Ricardo thought he would never be with anyone so beautiful and pure.
Ricardo went home and started talking to Doris about Lilah and dating. He did not know the proper way of dating. So, she gave him some sound advice, and the next day he asked Lilah if she would like to go have coffee and dessert at the local coffee shop.
This was the beginning of a longtime courtship.
When Christmastime came around, Ricardo asked Lilah's father if he could ask for her hand in marriage. Mr. Dean said it would be his delight. And on Christmas Day at Monty and Doris' house with the Dean family and many friends, Ricardo got on his knee. He asked the beautiful Lilah for her hand in marriage. Tears started running down her face, and she yelled." YES, YES."
As everyone was joyful, the doorbell rang, and Monty went and opened the door. One last surprise for Ricardo. He had been working for months to find Ricardo's sisters' They were living in Alabama with an aunt. It wasn't easy, but he finally tracked them down because the aunt had a different last name.
They walked into the room, and tears came down Ricardo's face. He could not believe his life had changed so much that he could not contain his feelings. "Sandra, Samantha, I cannot believe how grown you are. I have missed you so much!! They ran and hugged their brother, and it looked like the day would be bright.
So, a week later New Year's Eve, he kissed Lilah and said," I believe this life is going to be lovely, and I owe it all to Jesus."
BY Jean Davis
December 30, 2022
Dedicated to my beloved Ricky Davis