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another’s arms crying and grateful to be alive.
We sat on the blanket holding on to one another, happy and smiling. We were invincible once again, as all
children think they are. I was still in shock, but I would be forever grateful to the voice that saved us both that
day. I’ve thought about that voice many times since and how it sounded. Was it a man or a woman? I couldn’t
remember, and it didn’t matter. I would never forget it, and I would not hear it again until many years later.
Chapter Two: Being Different
It’s not the destination, but the journey!
September, 1963
One rarely forgets experiences like the one I had with Bob, especially since it had such an impact on my life.
I thought about it quite a bit as I grew older and found myself comparing it to other times and other experiences,
but none ever came close to what happened that day on the lake. It wouldn’t be long before my childhood
would be replaced with the onset of adolescence, but I knew I would never be able to let go of the voice. I was
vigilant about keeping my mind open to the possibilities of hearing it again, but as time passed, I became caught
up in the fantasies of a young boy once again.
Life was perfect for two small boys growing up in a little town outside of Boston. We lived in a middle-class
neighborhood, where all the experiences one could ever want lay at our doorsteps. There were so many things to
do, and I remember each and every one of them as if it was yesterday.
Summers provided us with ideas and experiences that would last a lifetime, but Bob and I always looked
forward to having winter fun together. Sledding down the hill across the street from home was something that
never grew old. It was even more exciting when we walked the mile and a half to a nearby golf course and
made runs down hills we still talk about today.
There was one day in particular that keeps coming to mind. We were with our friends from the
neighborhood. Instead of using sleds, we chose to ride as a group on Bob’s new toboggan, a gift from Santa that
Christmas. We lugged it up from the cellar, and everyone stood around and stared at the masterpiece in wood
and vinyleach with our own vision of the excitement that awaited us all. It was as sleek a toboggan as we had
ever seen. The wooden slats were covered with a blue vinyl cushion, and the curve in the front looked just like
the one on the front of Santa’s sleigh, only smaller. It had just enough room for five: Bob and me, Charlie and
Tommy, and Randy (my best friend who lived next door).
We were all very excited. It had rained the night before, so everything was frozen. Try as we did, we
couldn’t imagine the speeds we would reach going down the big hill in the middle of a course. After trudging
along the snowy sidewalk for what seemed like forever, we finally arrived at the end of our quest. There wasn’t
another person there. We had the whole hill to ourselves! We raced to the steepest run, where everyone took
part in lining up the toboggan just right, ensuring the fastest ride. We were strategically positioned on the left
side of the hill. There were three trees that separated one hill from another near the bottom, and I quickly took
note to stay away from them.
We jumped on the toboggan and strategically positioned ourselves to get the most out of the experience.
Being the tallest, I had the rear seat. I pushed the vehicle to get it moving and then jumped on board with the
rest of the gang. Our eyes quickly filled with tears as our speed grew faster and faster. We held on to one
another like there was no tomorrow! I put my feet out in an effort to help steer and quickly realized we had no
control on the ice. We were drifting toward the right side of the hill, directly in line with the trees at the bottom.
Yet we were laughing and shouting so hard that nothing else seemed to matter.
We had reached lightning speed and continued the ride for what seemed like hours, but in reality it took no
more than a few minutes. As we neared the bottom, it became painfully clear that we were going to hit smack-
dab in the middle of the first tree. I began dragging my hands and placed my feet on the ice in an attempt to
slow us down, but it was no use. We hit the tree right in the middle of its trunk.
Bob was in the front, and he flew like a bird over the front of the toboggan, landing on the ground past the