Monday, October 20, 2008

Happy Anniversary UncleDO and AuntLO!

On October 20th, 2007, Joy & Rose officially gained a new auntie by marriage.

They also both got to be flower girls!

Now, there's always a bit of risk entailed in the flower girl thing, and the younger, the riskier. You never quite know how they're going to perform at the actual ceremony! Having a three-year-old in the mix along with her five-year-old sister makes things more than a little unpredictable.

When the three-year-old also has autism and epilepsy, all bets are off.

The happy couple didn't waver as the planning process went along. They were quite definite: they wanted both girls in their wedding, even though they of course knew about the autism and the epilepsy. No, they didn't mind if I walked down the aisle next to Joy to keep things on track. And whatever happened, they assured us, it would be cute and make a good story.

Perhaps you can tell already that AuntLO was the ultimate UN-Bridezilla. We had such fun together figuring out dresses for both girls to coordinate with her ivory & burgundy wedding color-scheme, while simultaneously trying not to break the bank.

It's a rare late-October day in Chicago that comes in with a clear blue sky and over 70 degrees, but that's what they got for their wedding day on October 20 last year:

The Church
We had a couple hours drive to get to the church, and Joy did have a pretty big seizure at one point along the way, but we were hopeful that she'd be feeling fairly well recovered by the time we got there and got her all dressed up. (The Oct. 2007 trip to Chicago was one point in our data gathering that, up until this October, travel seemed to trigger seizures.)

Then she had another sizable seizure just as we were walking up to the church. Arghhh! Despite her obvious unhappiness, we went ahead and got both girls dressed up in the church bathroom, and got their lovely little baskets of rose petals, and hoped for the best...

And then while the processional music was playing and we were waiting our turn to walk in, she had another one.

The poor kid. I tried to walk in with her anyway, thinking that maybe she'd be so stunned that she'd just start moving forward and keep going.

Rose flower-girled like a pro, walking slowly and regally and strewing rose-petals "just so" (she'd been reading the Kevin Henkes book Lilly's Big Day for good practice!)

Joy took three steps with me, a little in front of me. Then she flung her petal basket in one direction and went running in the other, between a couple of empty pews. All she wanted to do was escape.

I pursued my sweet baby, picked her up, cuddled her the rest of the way up to the front of the church, circled around and pretty much immediately carried her back down the other aisle out the back of the church -- to await the incipient misery and fuss that always follows soon after a big seizure.

The beautiful old Catholic church building in that old Chicago neighborhood did not, of course, have a cry room. That wasn't on anyone's radar back when the church was built (heck, the term "radar" wasn't even coined until the 1940s!)

Fortunately there was a lovely little fenced grassy yard and garden at the back of the church, and it was so warm we didn't even need a wrap. I followed Joy around, trying to keep her safe through the worst of her reaction until she was a little calmer, and then we snuck back in to grab my purse and brought Rose out as well -- turned out that the full-fledged wedding mass was getting too long for her. So I snapped some photos. Here's Joy:

Joy the flower girl in the yard
There was a statue of St. Francis in the middle of the little lawn, about the same height as Joy and shorter than Rose!

Flower girls Joy & Rose visit with St. Francis
I won't post any of the official photographer's shots, from after the ceremony. Not only are they all from the front, Joy doesn't do well with posed photos and wasn't in a particularly cooperative mood.

AuntLO and UncleDO, though, were over the moon. We were so delighted to share in their joy, and touched beyond belief at their insistence on including Joy in their celebration.

Afterwards we discovered in conversations with other guests that, if we didn't tell them about Joy's seizure, they just assumed that she was having a three-year-old moment there in the aisle at the ceremony. Just like any kid might do.

It was cute, and made a good story.


As part of "and they're living happily ever after," I'd like to mention that AuntLO and UncleDO came to visit us last month. We had a wonderful time, including a family walk by the lake and a restaurant dinner. Here's Rose feeding the ducks during our walk:

Rose feeds the ducks
We're grateful beyond words for our amazing supportive family. Happy first anniversary, AuntLO and UncleDO. We love you guys!


tracey (aka rainbowmummy) said...

The fisrt picture is 100% adorable!!

JoyDad said...

I want to give my own shout out to Joy and Rose's aunt and uncle. Just like with any wedding involving two big extended families and lots of friends, they had a lot of details to think about in order to pull it all off. And not only did they insist on having Rose and Joy involved, but they also went above and beyond to make it as painless for us to participate as they could.

Happy anniversary, AuntLO and UncleDO!!!

Anonymous said...

I will add that I totally agree that the general guest population had no idea of all that was really going on with Joy, and she did look adorable and cute in the way she acted. It certainly did not do anything to "ruin" the wedding in any way, and even put smiles on many faces. And Joy was able to muster a few adorable smiles at the reception afterwards, even though she was very tired. I think it showed the importance and the effect of supportive, understanding, and accepting family and friends, and I would agree that we are lucky to have all of this in our family. And AuntLO's family fits right in as being accepting of Joy as she is and caring about her. So, I am so glad that we were all able to be a part of the wedding of UncleDO and AuntDO, and I add my congratulations to them on their one-year anniversary! It was a great day, and it was fun to look at the pictures you posted and remember it all! And, of course, along with the many pictures of UncleDO and AuntLO that I have in my own photo album from that day (after all, UncleDO is my "baby" brother!), there are many of Joy and Rose in the album, looking adorable and typically like kids! Rose sure tore up the dance floor that night!! Happy anniversary to all of us!

AuntLO said...

We love you all too. It really meant a lot to us to have both girls in the wedding. I remember being a flower girl myself and I wanted the girls to have similar happy memories. Thank you for a lovely post, its nice to hear that there are many happy memories of a wonderful wedding day.

Anonymous said...

I second everything auntlo said! We were thrilled Joy & Rose could take part and it worked out in the end, even if not exactly according to plan.

The pictures of the girls outside the church, btw, are some of our favorites.

JoyMama said...

UncleDO - you second everything that your lovely wife said? Does this mean that you, too, were a flower girl once upon a time?

LOL, ah the fond memories! ;-)

Anonymous said...

Yes, I think UncleDO was the flower girl at our wedding, right???? I know he was in our wedding party! His sister was also in the wedding party, and she did not want to be described as a flower girl, but rather a junior bridesmaid. So, someone had to be the flower girl, right?? UncleDO?? LOL! I do hope, though, that UncleDO has fond memories of being a part of our wedding party when not more than a few years older than Rose!

Anonymous said...

it always amazes me how delightfully oblivious the rest of the world can be to what we think is so dramatic and obtrusive. a good reminder, indeed.

it sounds like you have a delightful and supportive family, though i would have expected no less!

Anonymous said...

i love the pictures of the girls - so beautiful. i'm also happy that this october (as compared to last year) is seizure-free for Joy.

in regard to Joy-the-flower-girl, i appreciate your attitude of 'all we can do is go for it and hope for the best.' it's nice to know i'm not the only one out there who has no idea how things are going to turn out... but we take a deep breath and do it anyway!