Friday, May 25, 2007

Something You Don't Know About Gunfighter

My friends, today I am going to share something with you that you don't know about me.

I think that I may have mentioned, sometime in the slightly more than a year since I started this blog, that my marriage to Mrs. Gunfighter isn't my first marriage. Your pal Gunfighter went down the marital aisle once before.

My first marriage was a dreadful mistake, a mistake borne of youthful exuberance, stupidity, and a quixotic desire to "rescue" someone from a life that I thought wasn't good enough.

I wasn't quite twenty three, in May of 1986. I was a Marine, newly stationed in Washington, DC, and had seen a lot of the world. By this time in my life I had been in quite a few countries (most of western Europe, East Germany, parts of Africa and the Middle east and other places) and reckoned myself ready to settle down.

I was naive, and thought that the country girl (OK, hillbilly girl) that I had met in a Georgetown bar in the summer of 1987 was just right for me. She was pleasant, nice, and blah blah blah.... and six or so months later, we were living together and speaking of marriage.

We were married in June of 1988, and started our life together. Naturally, the first six months were fine and full of fun... which is when I got orders to go back to Camp LeJeune, North Carolina. I was going back to the Fleet Marine Force, 2nd Marine Division... and I had just found out that I was going to be a father. Yup, that's right.

I reported to Camp LeJeune, and was assigned to Weapons Company, first battalion, 6th Marine Regiment and spent the next several months getting back into the groove of being a squad leader in a heavy machine gun infantry platoon. At home in Maryland (where she stayed because of her job, and because I was due to get out of the Corps in Dec of 1989), Jennifer awaited the birth of our child.

I was just coming in from the field, having spent the previous few nights sleeping on the ground in the coastal Carolina sand and scrub, when I got the call from the battalion staff duty NCO, who informed me of the birth of my daughter, Crystal, that morning... August 5th, 1989!

I was instantly placed on leave, and loaded my car and drove away from the base at an unhealthy speed. I made great time to Andrews Air Force Base, which was less than ten miles from our apartment. I saw my baby and was done in. She was perfect.

Once I finished a lengthy leave, I went back to Camp LeJeuene, and returned to Maryland every weekend to play happy family, although things were starting to come unglued already.

I left the Marine Corps in December of 1989 and started my first government job in February of 1990.

I'll spare you the ugly details, but my marriage fell apart by Christmas of 1990.

In the intervening couple of years, I met, courted, and married Mrs Gunfighter. After a time of trying (and failing) to have at least an amicable-because-we-have-a-child relationship with Jennifer, she found a man that she wanted to be with. They were married, and by the time Crystal is that age that soccer girl is now, Jennifer asked me to allow her new husband to adopt my daughter.

Since every bit of contact between Jennifer and myself erupted into combat of the worst sort (non-physical, mind you), I agreed.

Not because I was trying to shirk my responsibilities. No, I always did my share and more... but because I wanted my daughter to have something that I didn't: A stable, two-parent home.

My family went nuts.

They accused me of abandoning my child for convenience sake.

The women in my family all accused me of not wanting to pay support.

The men in my family all suggested that I was some sort of villain.

The only person that supported me was Susan.

Eventually, my dad came around. He facilitated meetings between me and Crystal whenever she came to visit him. He kept us in contact. He sent me pictures of her, and copies of her report cards.

It was a long time ago, and I knew that I had done the right thing... that eventually, Crystal would be old enough to understand why I did what I did.

Almost two years ago, I started corresponding with Crystal via email. At first clandestinely, where she would email me from school. Later on, with her mother's knowledge. Then came telephone calls. We talked of many things, and we grew closer. The intervening years, while not disappearing, certainly faded into the background.

Today, my oldest child will graduate from high school, and I'll be in West Virginia to see it!

I haven't seen her in three years... and Olivia was an infant the one and only time she met her sister.

I can hardly wait.



Jenn in Holland said...

Admittedly, I am prone to tears, especially this week, but this post has me just bawling.
What an incredible sharing GF. I am so impressed with your honesty and your honor. What a thrill that you are building a real relationship with your daughter in spite of the obstacles all along. I am VERY excited for you, and wish you and she and all of you the very best. Enjoy the reunion. I really am thrilled for you.

My word verification is omugs, which I take to mean: Oh, my HUGS!
Wishing you loads of those this weekend.

Janet M Kincaid said...

GF: You've made me cry! Once again, your maturity and wisdom leave me in awe of the man you are. You must be very proud of Crystal and thrilled to be participating in an important milestone in her life. Congratulations! And may the years ahead be filled with many more occasions like this for you and Crystal.

Hugs to you all this weekend!

super des said...

Wow, Thanks for sharing that.
I always knew you were a good dad and that you do the right things.

I still have the utmost respect for you.

Queen of the Mayhem said...

That is really a touching post! I can not promise that I would have been so generous for the sake of the child.

I am not sure I agree with your choice(for myself), but I have a lot of respect for you choosing to do what you felt was right for your daughter. There are many divorced parents who can not see past the anger they have towards their exes to see the pain it is causing the children.

Have a wonderful trip!

You're a good man.

Anonymous said...

Wow, That had me teared up. Congrats on doing the thing that was right at the time and under the circumstances, and for ignoring those who presumed to know the inside of your heart. I know precious few couples who have divorced and managed to keep the focus on their children's emotional health instead of their anger with each other.

Enjoy your daughter this weekend!

Janet said...

You really are amazing, Bill. I feel fortunate to call you my friend. I can't wait to see you next week and give you a big hug.

Lawyer Mama said...

You made me cry too. I can only imagine how hard that must have been for you. And I am impressed that you did what was best for your daughter. So many people use their children as weapons to hurt each other after a divorce.

I got married at 22, so I know just how hard it can be to make it work. No one really knows who they are at that age. If T & I had had children at that age & been separated on a daily basis, I don't know if we would have made it either.

cathouse teri said...

Now that was a sweet and bitter story. I'm so glad you are still in contact. It will make the world of difference in all of your lives. Give her happy hugs for all of us. (As if we needed to ask.)

It's good to have trials like that. You find out who the people are that truly love and accept you.

And yep, you did bring a tear to EVEN my jaded eye!

Good job, Daddy!

Tasha said...

Thanks for sharing that, and thank you for being man enough to do what was best for your child at the time. It's truly not often that a man understands that a child needs stability to grow, and that the war of the parental units isn't the best thing for their child to witness. I'm sure it was a hard decision, and I respect you all the more for it.

Congrats to Crystal as well!

PT-LawMom said...

You're such a good man. I'm not at all surprised that you chose to put the best interests of your daughter ahead of your own. It sounds like it worked out the way God intended. Have a blast at graduation!!

Mamma said...


You did what you thought was best for Crystal and in the spirit of love. That is amazing!!

I am so glad you've had the opportunity to get to know each other again. You must be so proud of her.

I hope her other parents appreciate the sacrifice you made for your daughter.

Kateastrophe said...

I myself being a child of a less than pleasant divorce, appreciate so much your selfless act. It isn't often a parent involved in a messy divorce can see past their "issues" and think only of the child. I'm sure that was the hardest thing you've ever done, but you did what you thought was right.

Congratulations to you AND Crystal on her graduation!

soccer mom in denial said...

Wow. Just wow. Enjoy seeing her and sharing this day.

TDJ said...

Wow! What a mature decision you made for your daughter's well being. Enjoy her graduation and spending time with all your "girls" together.

The Thinking Black Man said...

Geez, Dude...

Why you tryin' to tug a Brother's heart-strings?

Quite a nice post GUNFIGHTER. Your candor on such a personal subject has touched all of your readers I'm sure.

I know your decision was far from easy, but you did what you felt was best for Crystal - I respect that immensely.

viciousrumours said...

I was the child in the middle. I wish my parents had made the decision about my stepfather adopting me for the reasons you did. You aren't special because you're a man, you're special because you're the kind of parent that stops and does what is good for your children, even if it hurts you. If more people understood the difference, we would have less juvenille crime, less teen pregnancy and a higher rate of self esteem among our children. Bravo for you! Your children are very lucky.

Terri said...

Have a great time visiting your daughter! It should be a good time for all!!!

steph! said...

I am happy that your child didn't have to suffer the pain of your divorce over and over again. But I'm even happier that she has now reached out to you and that you are now getting to share, once again, in her life. I'm sure that moments like these really solidify for you that you did make the right choice in a very, very difficult situation.

Rebecca said...

marriage break-ups and children are just such a difficult and painful terrain to navigate. Impossible to avoid pain.
I think it an amazingly generous gesture to let another man adopt your daughter.

Rebecca said...

marriage break-ups and children are just such a difficult and painful terrain to navigate. Impossible to avoid pain.
I think it an amazingly generous gesture to let another man adopt your daughter.

Hahn at Home said...

Having been through something similar--one which found me in a situation where doing what was best for the kids was judged and questioned by my family and friends--I can feel that, man. Eventually, I was able to have both--what was best for them and what I wanted, and it was beautiful. Those who judged eventually saw why what I did was the right thing to do. But, man did it hurt to have those who I should have been able to count on the most, who knew me the best, to fail all of us.

Brillig said...

I don't know what to say that hasn't already been said. But this is an amazing story. It was undoubtedly the hardest and bravest thing you've ever done and I respect and admire you so much for it. I'm so excited for you and Soocer Girl to see her. Can't wait for the report.

jessabean said...

Thanks for sharing. I hope it's a wonderful weekend for you and Crystal and I hope that you will share the experience with us as well. Have a fantastic holiday!

CreoleInDC said...

Have a great time!

Smiling Mom said...

Best of luck!! I am so happy for you! Have a great time.

Gunfighter said...

Thanks, all!

It was an amazing day!

I have stories to tell, but am weary as I have made two five-hour drives since 0800yesterday morning...

I am over-the-moon with joy, but to tell you the truth, I am so punchy that I dozed off twice, while writing this response

Charming Driver said...

You're a good man, Charlie Brown.

And a great dad.

I'm glad you had a good time, I can't wait to hear the rest of the story.

Lavatory Lady said...

Wow, that was really unselfish in my opinion. As long as your daughter understands then it's doesn't really matter what others say about it.

The Lavatory Lady

Redneck Mommy said...

How did I miss this???

Bill, the fact that you thought of your daughter before thinking of yourself, makes you a hero in my books.

I'm glad things have worked out for you, in the end.

Life certainly is a winding road. I'm glad it wound it's way to us "meeting".

I'm a better redneck for it.

mmafan said...


Touching story, and Semper Fi, man. You did what few men would do in reference to your daughter.

I was with 6th marines back in '85-86 and got out later that year, so I don't believe our paths crossed. Hope your reunion goes well.

Michele said...

Wow, what a story. I like this side of you as much as the political one. Thanks for stopping by my place. I'll be back.