A phone call from my sister Francesca is always like a summons -- even the ring has an imperious quality.
"You have to be there," she said. I knew exactly how her mouth would look as she said this, like a nun's mouth, all pruney and prissy. The mouth of a woman who still keeps a stack of gilt-edged holy cards, earned by grade school good behavior, in the back of her bureau drawer.
"I can make up an excuse."
"His last birthday you said you had chicken pox. You had chicken pox twice as a kid."
"Like he's going to remember."
"He's seventy-one. How many more years do you think we're going to have him?"
How many, I...