It feels strange to write something about my sister to be read in front of a group of people many of whom I haven't met at the same time, if you are here listening to this, I know it’s because you loved her too, so it’s okay. I'm not well enough to travel, but I would have been here to read this to you myself if I could. John kindly offered to read it for me, so here it is.
Since most of you probably met Rachael as an adult, I'm going to talk about her as I remember her growing up.
Rachael was such a great little sister. She was the most intelligent person I have ever met, with a quicksilver mind I could read a user's manual, take apart something mechanical, and (usually) put it back together by referring to the diagrams, Rachael could do it without even opening the manual, and when she was done, the thing she had reassembled always worked better than it had before She had a native understanding of mechanical things She figured out how to use several mysterious attachments for our sewing machine that no one else could understand, and then wrote out detailed instructions for the rest of us in tiny print in the margins of the sewing machine manual As a child, she could pick up and play any musical instrument after, looking it over for a few seconds, and she was extremely good at math and making things She built a lot of the furniture in her bedroom, and she used to sew beautiful clothes for herself with no patterns Later, as an adult, she built computers for fun with her husband John.
When she was little -- four or five, maybe' -- she was afraid of thunder storms, which we had every afternoon in the summers She'd go off to the basement to wait them out One day she asked us all to come down to the basement for a surprise It turned out that she had taught herself how to use the Super 8 movie camera and make stop-camera animation, and she had made a clay-mation film several minutes long, showing two little balls of oil-based modeling clay rolling around and jumping over each other. At the end, one of the balls started to melt under the lights she had setup, so the last scene was several seconds of continuous film of her hand frantically shaping the clay back into a ball. She was upset when we all laughed, since she felt that it was a mistake, but I told her it was the best part
Here are some silly things we did together as kids:
and here are some things I remember about Rachael just by herself:
When I left home at 17 to go to college, Rachael and I really missed each other. We talked sometimes on the phone, but that was expensive in the days before flat rate long distance. In between, she wrote me wonderful letters. She sent me cassette tapes of all my favorite record albums, some tapes of herself playing music, and once, a whole home-made chocolate cake complete with chocolate icing, carefully packed in a box for my birthday. It was delicious.
Rest in peace, little sister. I thought we would have many years left to know each other. I feel so off-balance without you. I wish I could have seen you again, and given you a lot more hugs. I am missing you so much already.
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