SIS

Not everybody's got a sister. Nor one like mine. So to have one like Rina is to be double-blessed (at the very least). Her name, unique and musical, was snipped off "Caterina" which was our grandmother's, Dad's mother's, name. Giving my sister that abbreviated version was my parent's attempt to honor our Italian past and point to our American future.

Most of our first and second generation relatives have been raked off the table by the Great Croupier, so Rina has become the epitome as well as the repository of all things family. When we get together, typically once a year when she journeys each summer to my place by the beach in Rhode Island, our major topic is always the family and its tapestry of legends. Though she was four years younger than me she knows volumes more of the family history. I missed a lot because I was off and running early in life, searching, searching... She was at home a lot, and she saw and heard a lot. Best of all she remembers a lot—most everything. She has the photos and the memorabilia and she writes down names and events and dates. She's the ideal keeper of the chronicles. Even more importantly, she embodies the characteristics of the family, its essence, its quirks and its glories. When I'm with her I feel like I'm looking into a timeless crystal ball in which the whole family lives and moves and breathes. She is so sensitive and perceptive, so artistic, so athletic, so vivacious, so graceful, so beautiful. She cooks, she cleans, she sews quilts, she plays tennis, she paints—she can do anything.

Knowing we don't have all that many times left to get together I took the ferry across the Sound last week to see her in Setauket on the Island. Of course we reminisced deep into the wee hours, of what was and how it was. And we laughed the way we always used to. And we walked the beach. And I taught her how to play pickleball. And on the last night she played some DVD compilation of old Super 8 movies my Uncle Joe had taken. And there we were. There we all were. She gave me a copy as a gift.

The day I left it was damp and rainy. I boarded the ferry and waved goodbye. But I noticed she stood on the shore a long time, until the ferry, filled to the brim with people and cars, finally, slowly, moved away.

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