Bethany was a special girl ever since I knew her. She was four when I met her mother, and I fell in love with her instantly. Yes, she had a temper, and yes, she had almost no patience. But she was smart and her heart was as big as the outdoors. Most of all, she was concerned about everyone, especially her mother and brother.
This was extremely evident the day when I was in the store with her while her mother was home. We were met by a friend of mine, and after I introduced Bethany to my friend, he asked, "Where is her Mom?"
"She's home. She doesn't feel very well."
It was then when Bethany stood up to me and said, "Don't you talk about my mother!"
I was floored. Here was a little four year old girl who looked like she was going to fight me because she thought I was talking about her mother in a bad way!
Eventually, her mom and I became best friends, and two years later, we were married, and she and her two children moved in with me.
Bethany did all of the things girls do. She played hard with her brother, played hard with her friends outdoors, and played with her Barbies indoors (whenever she wasn't being a pain to her big brother).
She played soccer and volleyball in junior high, received good grades and changed boyfriends as quickly as she changed clothes it seemed. She also frequently discarded her girlfriends as she made new ones. All the typical things twelve and thirteen year old girls do.
Bethany was growing up to be an extraordinarily beautiful girl. Fortunately, we were close, and we often talked about relationships, what the important things were in life and I taught her how to defend herself.
The problems began when she reached high school. Well, to be honest, they started when she turned twelve but they weren't serious until she went to high school. Her grades slipped, she skipped school and she became sexually active.
Her mother had taught her all about birth control and the sex thing, and evidently, she listened because she did not become pregnant. Unfortunately, she was completely uncontrollable, and she hated me.
I insisted on knowing which adults were going to be at the parties she went to. I even mortified her when I entered the house to meet the adults when I dropped her off!
Then, when she was fifteen, she brought home a new girlfriend that was more than just a girlfriend! I could see it in the way they interacted. I could see it in the way they looked and touched each other. They certainly weren't overtly obvious that they were lovers, but they didn't try to hide it either.
At the time, I simply thought that she was experimenting and didn't put too much thought into it beyond that. Besides, when she was seventeen, she moved out and began living with her new boyfriend.
I couldn't stop her and neither could her mother. It was at the point when Bethany would shout "Fuck you!" in my face whenever I tried to assert myself. I even resorted to slapping her face on a couple of occasions in an effort to shock her out of the tantrums she was throwing. Nothing I did worked, and her mother was equally unable to influence her.
I told her mom, "There's really nothing else we can do. We've taught her right from wrong; she's smart, and we just have to wait until she grows up."
Her mom was doubtful that Bethany would grow up, but nodded her head.
When she moved out, I told her she could stay with her boyfriend so long as she stays in school. It was the only leverage I had. I only hoped that she thought I could really do something about her living with her boyfriend.
He was actually a good guy. He, too, was seventeen, and they both had jobs. Her mom and I helped her everyway we could. It was not only an opportunity to stay in her life, but it also kept the door open between us.
I still believed in her and told everyone that she would be all right. I told everybody that she will grow up to be a beautiful person inside and out. I told them they just had to wait until she'd grown out of her teen years.
Bethany and her boyfriend worked hard. They stayed out of trouble, and she kept her word and graduated from high school. Shortly after graduation, she broke up with her boyfriend.
We all agreed that it was best for her to move down south and stay with her father and his wife while she got herself together and figured out what she wanted to do. I thought it was the best thing for her at that time in her life. It would get her away from all of her old friends and give her a new start.
Her mom and I stayed in touch with her, and we often talked about different things. It was obvious that she was still bitter, but at least she was still in our lives, and she wasn't afraid to let us into hers.
Bethany found a job, and a year later, she began working her way through college. She met a new boyfriend, but broke up with him after several months.
Her mom and I joked about how hard she was being on her boyfriends. I had always told her that she should never let a guy live off from her. I also told her that if any guy ever hit her, then I would come and take care of it.
"Besides," said her mom, "She's always seen how hard you worked to take care of us. She's not going to be with someone who won't do the same for her!"
Shortly after she graduated from college, she called and told us of her new girlfriend. A month later, she told us she was moving to Florida and she and her girlfriend were getting an apartment together.
The only thing that bothered her mom was that she was going to be living so far away. I figured she was twenty one and she knew what she was doing. It was then, when she began telling me how sorry she was for the way she acted when she was a teenager.
I told her I was happy for her. I told her how she acted before didn't matter and said "I always loved you and I never gave up on you."
She told me she knew. She also thanked me for not giving up on her.
It was really odd meeting her girlfriend, now fiancée. They interacted the same way that her mom and I do! Seeing Bethany treating her female friend like she would a husband, and seeing her fiancée treating Bethany as if Bethany was a wife was odd to say the least.
The thing was, it was obvious that they were both very much in love with the other and that they truly made each other happy.
There were two things Bethany told me that I will never forget. She told me that I was the only one who deserved to walk her down the aisle and give her away, and she told me that her fiancée was a lot like me!
"Okay." I thought. "So her fiancée is another woman. It's obvious that Bethany picked out someone who was hard working, someone who would protect her (her fiancée was a police officer), and someone who loved her too much to abuse her."
In the end, I don't think I could have asked for anything more than that.
When I asked her fiancée about her parents, she told me they were upset with her for wanting to be with a woman and didn't want anything to do with her.
I told her I was sorry. I told her, "As parents, we cannot choose what career our children must have, where they have to live, what they have to believe in or who they have to love. As parents, the best we can hope for is that our children are happy."
I told her that it's too bad that her parents chose to miss out on all the fun and that it was their loss.
Bethany ran up to me, threw her arms around me and told me she loved me!
All I can say is, "What more can any parents possibly ask for?"