I did it!
On Friday evening, Elsa chauffeured me to Fouchette in Wayne, a lovely intimate restaurant., where Chad's parents were having the Rehearsal Dinner.
Cocktails started at 7:00 p.m., but I arrived at 8:30 p.m., which was when they were scheduled to start serving dinner.
Elsa, who did not want to worry about eating while she waited for me, had gotten take-out back at the hotel. And what take-out it was - prime rib with all the fixings from the Outback Steakhouse across the parking lot, all compliments of her oldest brother. She shared it with me, since dinner was still a ways to go.
Our hotel was about fifteen minutes from the restaurant. Since she knows Wayne quite well, Elsa skirted around on side roads so that I could exit the car right at the restaurant's door.
As I entered, I looked straight ahead at the centerpiece of the restaurant - a split staircase with a total of 24 steps. Looking at it, my heart sank down to my boots. It sank even lower when the hostess said there were only two ways up - carried up in a chair or under my own steam. That chair business seemed too risky, so I chose to hoof it up all by myself.
Jenn, the hostess, seemed to have experience with old folks mounting the stair because she walked behind me, rather than next to me, with her hand very lightly on my back. It was so much like what Elsa would have done, it immediately put me at my ease. Luckily for me, the staircase had several landings where I could pause and catch my breath.
I was so glad to get to the top, I just hung onto the railing for a bit, making sure I was really on "solid' ground. The next thing I remember was hearing a chorus of people shouting variations on "You made it!" Someone guided me to a chair that was blessed with supportive arms.
I remember a cozy setting, with intimate tables for six and no head table, or at least none that I was aware of. Peter sat on my right and the minister who would officiate the next day sat on my left. It was nice sitting between Peter and Jack Grubbs, Whitney & Chad's pastor at historic Falls Church (VA).
People stopped by and Peter would excuse himself to make his chair available for people to sit and chat with me. Pam, mother of the bride and former daughter-in-law, has a warm relationship with our family, something everyone involved has put a lot of caring into. She stopped by, as did her sister Alicia, her parents, and Chad's dad, Dr. I. Doyle Siddons (a retired radiological specialist). Best of all, of course, was my chat with the bride & groom.
I don't remember much about the food, except that it was delicious.
Sad to say, my energy flagged before dessert - and the speeches, which was what I especially wanted to hear, and the presentation of a book of "wishes" that the guests had all contributed to.
My wish was for the two of them to enjoy the greatest delights of married love - innocence, peace, tranquility, inmost friendship, full confidence, and mutual desire of mind & heart to do the other every good. Since they were being married by an Episcopal minister in Peter's Presbyterian church, it felt good to slip in a quote from the Writings.
It was a great evening. I was sorry to miss the toasts and speeches, but by 10:30 p.m. they still had not served dessert and this Grammie was ready to call it quits.
I turned to Peter and told him it was time for me to head out. As I explained, one of the "privileges" of old age is being able to leave whenever you are tired without being a scandal and a hissing.
Peter called Reynolds over and asked him to walk me down. Did me good to hear my grandson say, "Dad, let's both do it." They did! I descended the stair on the arms of two incredibly good-looking men.
Elsa was waiting for me, looking happy. The plan had been for her and John to spend most of the evening at Readers' Forum, but he was back home working on a tight-deadline commission and it turned out the bookstore closed at 8:00 p.m. Undaunted, she had checked around the corner to make sure the Gryphon Cafe was open, then headed back to tell the barkeep where she was so that she could be notified when I was ready to adios.
She never got any farther than the bar at Fouchette! A wonderful couple took her under their wing and insisted that she stick with them. What could have been a solitary evening turned into a rollicking good time.
It made a difference to me, spotting her as I made that descent. She grinned at me and I beamed at her. Peter and Reynolds handed me back into her keeping and we were soon headed to home (well, to Sheraton) and bed.
It was a great start to a remarkably happy weekend.
Love to all of my dear circle - the Grandmother of Mrs. Chad Key Siddons