Reissa and Gary

I believe it was Fran Lebowitz (although I could easily be wrong) who once quipped that, if you happen to be attractive when you’re young, make sure to take lots of pictures as proof, because people won’t believe you when you’re older. Well, maybe I’m biased, but I think my sister Reissa and I were pretty cute kids.

She was born nearly two years before I was, on December 21, 1954, and didn’t give me the best reception when I showed up. In fact, she told me that I wasn’t really her brother, that our parents found me in a trash can, felt pity, and brought me home. But as the picture above shows, we have clear physical similarities. And looking at her hands and feet in the hospital where she spent her penultimate days reassured me that we were indeed brother and sister. In many ways, there was nobody nearer to me.

Reissa and Gary as infants

Reissa Gibbs-Rogers (nee Vineberg) passed away peacefully in Toronto on March 17, 2022, of complications of lung cancer.

As children, we ate together, we played together, we even took baths together. Later on our paths diverged and we led very different lives. We didn’t always get along — but we never lost touch. She took loving care of our mother in Mom’s final years, and looking after Dad (who turns 90 years old in September) brought us closer more recently.

Because I was considerably taller than Reissa, I often thought of her as my little big sister. If either one of us needed a kidney, we knew whom to turn to first; I have no doubt that she would have donated one of hers if I needed it. She was artistic and had a lovely speaking voice. The thought of never hearing it again gives me great sorrow.

And because it’s possible to be sad and angry at the same time, I end with this admonition: If you smoke, please try to quit; if you don’t, please don’t start.

6 thoughts on “Reissa and Gary

  1. Gary, your farewell message is so beautiful.
    We all have to keep our memories of Reissa alive and share them whenever we can.
    I miss her too.

  2. Oh Gary, this is the most tender of reflections. Thank you for sharing this part of your life with Reissa in all of its truthfulness. While you know I think frequently on loss and love, I cannot even imagine what it’s like to lose a sibling. Dave and I are holding you in our thoughts continuously.

  3. I’m sorry to read about this. I only met Reissa a few times when we were children, but I know what it’s like to lose a family member. The best that can be said, a fragment from our tradition, is: “May you know no further sorrow.” And it is cruelly insufficient.

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