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This Is My Sister
This Is My Sister

About four years ago, I was on a news assignment filming at an elementary school where they celebrate their annual pioneer day. I was about to begin filming four women teaching quilting when the teacher stood and introduced all but one of the women. Immediately, one of the women from the group stood and said the words that I could not get out of my mind, "And this is my sister, Mary; she is also a part of our group." The woman stood in defense of her sister Mary and in defiance of a world that dismisses those who are different; she did so with such devotion. 
I left the classroom that day thinking about the sisters and thinking about my daughters and unconditional love. As my oldest daughter was heading off to college, I told her about that day with the sisters and how it had affected me so deeply. I told my daughter I was thinking about a documentary on the sisters. She responded with, "You should do it, dad." 
When I initially told one of the sisters about that day in the school, she was very surprised because it was a natural part of their life's fabric to support one another. I wanted to tell their story. I believe a documentarian is not interpreting, but recording history. In my fictional film work, you interpret through words, light, composition and the way you move the camera, along with a host of other factors. In a documentary you are trying to convey a story - for instance, the black & white clips I created to take the viewer momentarily back in time. I did not want to get in the way of the story - whatever happens in the moment happens; the sisters told their story with little fuss. 
Trust is so imperative and the sisters and I knew from the beginning that Mary had to feel comfortable and trust me. She has an innate sense about people that is razor sharp. So, it was just me filming week after week. Mary and I would start the day often singing songs from a musical that she loved. It was quite fun. I'm grateful, so grateful, for the way Mary's father and mother, Earl and Marion, showed the world what it is to stand up for what you believe in and live your life with grace and dignity. Getting to know Mary, Kathy, Nora and their mother and father through the filming of "This Is My Sister" has profoundly changed my life. Before I began this film, I had my definition of what unconditional love was. Once I met the sisters, that definition was redefined. My greatest hope for "This Is My Sister" is for the viewer to walk away as I have, knowing that love is the great leveler of life. With it, you hold the key to the universe... and without it the stars above are just flickering lights without a soul.

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Marcia G, United States, WI
3/18/2013 3:04:36 PM
My family were recipients of generosity through our church from Mary and Kathy. They brought us a home cooked meal that was awesome and very much appreciated. Thanks for doing this wonderful story!

Judy Collison, United States, WI
10/14/2012 2:24:40 PM
Love always wins.

Ron Dentinger , United States, WI
07/17/2012 00:59:41
"This is my sister" was a very heart-warming story.

Paulette MacMaster, United States, NY
06/04/2012 11:01:43
touching story

Daniel Nicoletta, United States, CA
05/28/2012 01:11:01
What a great and loving tribute to people first concepts for people with disabilities, cognitive or otherwise. - Dan Nicoletta

June Bloss, United States, WI
05/26/2012 16:40:34
This story is about a truly amazing family. I know that in real life because these wonderful women are my cousins, so I knew all of them as I was growing up and am very proud to say that.

Linda McGoey, United States, WI
05/26/2012 00:25:49
This documentary was very touching and it warms my heart, as it could be a story about my family having a sister with Down Syndrome. We went down a similar path... wondering what the future would hold for her. We are blessed having her part of our lives. She has touched the hearts of many with her contagious smile. Mary reminded me so much of my sister.

Jackie Peterson, United States, OR
05/24/2012 03:34:14
This is a heartwarming film with an imporant message about the power of love and kindness.

Sue Shephard, United States, NY
05/24/2012 00:00:55
Love, Pride, Dignity, and Respect. It was SO very beautifully done. I felt as tho I was sharing intimate moments with this beautiful family, and I was deeply impressed with the message that they delivered. I admire the courage of their decision, which I am sure was very difficult in those years. The world has come a long way since then, and mostly because of awareness, understanding and education through public exposure such as this film. This film should be seen by everyone. I think it should be shown in schools and educational environments as well.

Tony Gangemi, United States, CA
05/23/2012 14:02:20
A story rich with soul. Timeless.

Mary Ann Lust, United States, WI
05/19/2012 09:31:22
As a teacher of students with challenges, this story warms my heart.

Ruth Battaglia, United States, WI
05/16/2012 11:50:44
Beautiful story!

Stella McGlinchy, United States, CA
05/14/2012 21:18:11
I was fortunate to see the screening,"This is My Sister" at The Carmel Art & Film Festival. It brought me to tears when Mary sang " May Each Day". "There will be sadness & Joy, there"ll be laughter & tears". "May each of your days be a day full of Love" Just like the song, Mr Caruso has captured how each of Mary's days are so full of Love♥

Janet Vrtol, United States, IL
05/11/2012 11:00:10
Frank Caruso is one of the most talented, humble individuals I have had the pleasure working with and knowing. A consummate professional with such a heart - he's truly an inspiration. Janet Vrtol

Mickey Schwarz, United States, WI
05/08/2012 18:05:48
Frank has captured something truely amazing and wonderful that most people look for their entire lives and don't find: unconditional love. Mary is an amazing person because of this wonderful family.

Amy Verheyden, United States, WI
05/08/2012 17:08:31
Truly inspirational!

Dan Zadra, United States, WA
05/08/2012 13:21:25
Very inspiring, your story touched my heart. Unconditional love personified. Dan

Elizabeth Sampson, United States, NY
05/08/2012 09:50:52
Beautiful story! As for someone that has worked in the developmentally disabled industry and their institutional settings, I am so grateful to Mr. Caruso for taking intrest in Mary and her sister. Mr. Caruso has done such a wonderful job showing the relationship and the love that these two sisters share.

Anna Hitz, United States, WI
05/07/2012 22:01:00
Mary is a wonderful lady and it is amazing to see the love that she and her sisters have for each other.

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