Pamela came downstairs dressed in her rehearsal dinner attire and wowed her aunties and grandparents. They thought she looked smashing! She and her babies hung out with her Tia Susie in the courtyard until we were ready to go. Tia Susie showed her all of the baby clothes she purchased for her first grandchild due in two months. Pamela and her tia compared many of the items to her babies, but all of the hats, booties, onesies, etc. were too big for Pamela’s babies.
The rehearsal was at 6:30 and was mercifully fast. The chapel is absolutely beautiful, and I am looking forward to seeing it in full wedding splendor tomorrow. Pamela and I (or Steve) will stand behind the back pew, facing the front door, next to a table that will hold a basket for the folded programs. I will hand one to Pamela, and, if all goes well, she will hand one to the guests, which may reach a hundred. If Pamela bails, Steve and I will be her back-ups! We practiced our little assembly line pattern a couple of times and that was it for us. One thing I love about the bride and groom is that they are laid back, relaxed, and putting everyone at ease. I hate stuffy, toxic affairs, and the wedding promises to be the exact opposite!
We stayed in the garden district for dinner. We slowly filled a banquet room, and Pamela patiently waited while they served wine and the appetizer (stuffed crab). Alyson started handing out gifts to those assisting with the wedding, including this tree stand for Pamela's room. Pamela peeked in the bag with this perplexed look. She looked at Alyson and then me, so I smiled broadly and said, "You can hang things on it in your room. It will look beautiful." Pamela still wasn't too sure but relaxed and did not toss it over her shoulder like she used to do with other unwanted gifts.
Pamela could not eat anything from the dinner, so we ordered her a burger and fries, which made Alyson's brother James (not to be confused with the groom James or her grandfather James) mouth water. He asked if he could have a bite, and she chomped on her burger and said, "No!"
Steve had wondered off to chat with his sisters, so Pamela placed her babies next to her in his chair. I was completely delighted, surprised, and, in tears, when Nancy Kashman and her husband Steve (not to be confused with my Steve or the Steve two seats to my right) arrived all the way from Phoenix. Nancy, an OT certified in Sensory Integration, helped me figure out Pamela's sensory needs early on, and she has followed Pamela's progress since she was about four years old. The last time Pamela and Nancy met was in 2000 when we visited them the weekend they opened their deli and put their waiters through the gluten-free, casein-free wringer.
After we hugged, Nancy knelt next to half-starved Pamela, who was just digging into her long-awaited meal. Nancy says, "I remember working with you when you were this high. So, how old are you now?" Pamela eats a fry, and says, "I'm nineteen years old and I have two babies!"
Nancy and I nearly collapsed on the floor, laughing! When she recovered, Nancy said, "That was beautiful! She answered my question and elaborated on it."
Pamela stayed with us in the very loud, crowded room and sat next to her grandmother while I chatted with Nancy. Nancy was astonished at how calmly Pamela sat there. She noticed how much more Pamela uses her eyes to track what was happening and how much more facial expression she has. She was very impressed, especially when you consider that we woke up at four EST to fly to New Orleans and Pamela was hanging on at nine CST at night in a very noisy setting. When she had reached her limit, she asked if she could sit on the floor, so Pamela sat in the corner with her babies and rocked a little. About a half hour later, Steve and her went back to the room. We never even had a hint of a meltdown the entire night! Not one hint!
Pamela's cousin James put it all into perspective, "I am amazed. I remember every Christmas we never saw Pamela because she couldn't handle the noise. She'd hide in the bedroom of our house in LaPlace and watch videos. Look at her. She's sitting at the table, handling it all!"