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"The Final Sleigh Ride"
by Rich Conti
class of 66
...
I glanced out at the snow that covered the slope in the front of my house and remarked to myself boy, I bet the kids in the neighborhood are happy , as I remembered the magic of our youth and that special feeling of excitement and anticipation that filled us whenever it snowed. The race to get dressed, get our Flexible Flyers out of the garage and up to the hill was all we could think about. My family grew up in Bergenfield, New Jersey and about a quarter of a mile from our house on Surrey Lane was Gordon Drive. Gordon Drive was simply known as The Hill to all the kids in that area. Of course looking at it now and myself now living on a real hill, I get a kick remembering the reverence in which it was held. We were kids, easily excited, having fun! What did we know? 

My brother Roddy was about a year and a half younger than me and of course learning early on about the sibling chain of command, was at my beck and call, especially when it came to pulling the sleighs back up the hill after we had slid down. Of course I was the only one who was allowed to abuse him in that manner and it was understood that I was his protector on that hill. God only knows how many times we would go up and down that hill. No matter how cold, no matter how wet we would get, we would continuously drag tiring bodies back up the hill for one more ride. When it was time to go it was by brother Roddy who was always angling to stay a little longer. 

One more       just one more sleigh ride     he would yell.

As my memory returned to the present day and the snow on the ground I turned a looked at the Urn sitting on my mother's hutch in our living room, the Urn that contained the ashes of my brother. Andrew Roddy Conti who had died suddenly on December 19th, my birthday ironically, just a few weeks before at the age of 49. 
Waves of emotion moved over me as I remembered our youth, and glancing back out at the snow, I said, Why not! One more, one more sleigh ride! So I went to the garage, got my grandson's sleigh out of the garage, took the Urn and walked to the top of the slope outside my house and took one more sleigh ride with my brother, and this time I carried the sleigh for him.

by Rich Conti
class of 66

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