"The Unlikely Felon" is the story of Will and Kay Young, who for years loved, cared for, and supported Will's grandparents while raising young children and pursuing entrepreneurial ambitions. Suddenly, their lives turned upside down one cold, February day in 2011. A knock on their door was not an Amazon delivery, but something devastating—a police search. In moments, everything they had built for twenty years—businesses, reputations, friendships—crumbled.
Peppered with humor, Will and Kay's adrenaline-charged and hellish ride through the legal system is the story of people doing their best to help loved ones. It's also about being in jail—literally and figuratively—and how quickly the American dream can become a nightmare."
In the early 1990s I was in college, and my good friend moved into my apartment. We'll call him Stu. We shared a small bedroom with two twin beds. His goal was to make the football team, and mine was to make the baseball team.
One day Stu was looking at the bulletin board on the wall above my small desk, which was crammed into a corner, and he asked me, 'What's with all the three-by-five cards?' I told him they contained my goals for both the present and the future. He pulled down one of the white cards, looked at me with an odd smirk on his face. 'Willy, this one says "Change the world and become a billionaire—at any cost."' He stared at me. 'Really? At any cost? The billionaire thing is great, but…'
I still remember that moment, but now I think I should have written a card that said, 'Try to avoid the legal system.'"
The journey of "The Unlikely Felon" helped me appreciate the words of Auschwitz survivor Viktor Frankl more than ever before, not because I lived through anything close to the hell he experienced, but because I now understand his thoughts about his evolution. He wrote, "No man should judge unless he asks himself in absolute honesty whether in a similar situation he might not have done the same." Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom." I quote from the movie The Shawshank Redemption for three reasons: I love it, I've seen it nine or ten times, and I identify with the characters Andy and Red because they fought to hang on to their dignity, self-worth, and hope, even within a system that wanted to break their spirit and strip them of their humanity.
My grandparents were an invaluable part of my life. They were strong and helpful—until they weren't. Life changes, and we all become old. As I watched them age, they taught me about taking pride in your life and your situation. They were courageous, elegant, and proud. Yet in the end, they would lose their balance at the drop of a hat, forget what they were trying to say, and often their faces showed how lost they felt. Each time their health deteriorated, I tried to learn more about the aging process. I've learned that the greatest perils of aging are falling, influenza, and pneumonia, followed by Alzheimer's disease and depression. These last two are difficult because they make life so much harder for the elderly person experiencing the disease/s and for the caregiver in more ways than is imaginable. Have you ever been a caregiver? Are you one right now? If not, give it time—you likely will be. Currently, the statistics say you have about an 80 percent chance of becoming a caregiver. One of the heroes of this story is my wife, Kay, the most amazing caregiver the world has ever seen.
If you secretly enjoy watching a train wreck—this is your book. I hope this story makes you think, scares the hell out of some of you, and maybe challenges some of your deeper thoughts. Get ready because the knock, knock is coming—the day that you will be called to meet a challenge that requires all your bravery and patience and your best, authentic self during the challenging times ahead.