Adventures with Leslie, An Honored Guest

The invitation arrived addressed to Laura Neuman and guest.

My sister had just come to live with me, and I couldn’t leave her home alone. Could I ask to bring her as my guest?

It’s the kind of question you ask knowing that whichever way it’s answered, there’s really no way to say no, which is why I was nervous to pick up the phone and call. But I also didn’t want to miss the wedding.

I reached my friend and said what we say in those moments, “Please know it’s ok to say no.” She said, “Yes, of course she can come.”

I attended the Chocolate Ball in Howard County several years ago. It’s a wonderful event where the differently-abled are not only welcome but are honored guests. This isn’t often the case in society.

In bringing Leslie to the wedding, I was worried about ordinary activities like chatting and eating and waiting. All things we do at weddings.

She sat intently throughout the ceremony, eyes fixed on the couple as if they were her best friends. In the receiving line, she enthusiastically hugged the bride and groom whom she had never met.

We walked into the mingling hour and I quickly realized it’s not easy to make small talk with Leslie, although she did turn to me recently and say, “You know Sylvester Stallone is almost 80.” I wasn’t sure how to respond.

Most people will kindly adjust to her depth of comprehension. The bigger issue is that her speech is difficult to understand.

She relaxed into a comfortable chair, crossed her legs, completely unaware that she flashed the entire room, and settled in. “This is nice…this is nice,” she said. She wasn’t uncomfortable. I was the one who was worried.

I introduced Leslie to everyone and then I took her to a quiet place and let her watch the news – one of her favorite activities – on my iPhone. I never let my kids do this, but I must admit I did with her. The rules are different.

To keep things moving while we waited for the bride and groom, I took her for a tour of the buffet options. Good idea. Bad idea.

The caterer graciously offered to prepare a plate for her, and I took her over to our assigned table in the empty dining room. She was able to eat at her own pace, making it more enjoyable for everyone.

It was a lovely event. I’m so glad we went. We were there for the bride and groom, but the truth is that Leslie will always think of it as her event because, in her mind, they are now her friends too.  That’s what’s so special about her.

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