I grew up about 135 miles north of Long Beach in a small town called Santa Ynez. Having Emelda’s reception in Long Beach made it difficult for my friends in Santa Ynez to attend, so my parents decided to throw a ‘Santa Ynez reception.’ Later on in the year. After originally scheduling it in July, we later had to move it to August (due to my busy work schedule). My mother invited dozens of people from the church I attended as a I grew up as well as some of my childhood friends and teachers. Everyone was very anxious to meet Emelda and my mom kept telling me how many people were RSVPing. It soon became apparent that the Santa Ynez reception was going to be even bigger than the Long Beach reception.

My mom rented several round tables with umbrellas attached to them and about 75 chairs. My dad began getting the landcaping of their property into shape. He planted flowers and spruced up the lawn while my mom organized the food preparations and the rentals. They really seemed to be enjoying the process of putting the reception together and Emelda was becoming more and more anxious for the day of the big party to arrive. Mom even registered us with Target and picked out a gaggle of gifts she thought we would enjoy. My mom can be quite industrious when she wants to!

The day of the second reception arrived and almost every one of those 75 chairs got used. The turnout was incredible. It was fun for me to see old friends and for Emelda to meet them for the first time. They had all heard so much about Emelda that it was quite a treat for them to finally see her in the flesh. (We had even been featured in a lovely article in "The Santa Ynez Valley News.") Emelda wore a perpetual smile all day long and her beauty once again astounded me. She’s beautiful inside and out and it was great for these people from my past to see that my future would be spent with a fantastic lady.

The food was great (my mom’s a world class cook) and the company was greater. My kindergarten, second, third, fifth, eighth and tenth grade teachers even showed up! (Of course, my father was my teacher in fifth and eighth grade, so I guess I shouldn’t count those grades.) There were so many presents, we didn’t know where to begin. We received so many nice things, but the nicest gift that Emelda got that day was 100% acceptance by all of the people who attended the party. Even today, she still worries about being accepted by people in America, even though she has yet to be confronted with anybody who has prejudged her (with the notable exception of Maury Povich). On the whole, she has been made to feel very welcome here.