Remembering Todd

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On a winter’s day in 1983, Todd Morsilli was killed when a vehicle driven by an intoxicated East Greenwich High School student callously barreled down the road, erasing a life along the way. This event hurt families, challenged laws and forced a community to address issues pertaining to substance abuse. While the young boy, with the broad grin and goofy hat, never got to experience a full lifetime, the impact of his time on earth continues.

For many, Todd Morsilli was a tennis star who was tragically taken away. For his family, he was a loving son and brother. For me, he is a young boy whose life continues to matter. There are tennis courts named after him. A number of alcohol/drug prevention initiatives were established in his honor. And last, but not least, he is a huge reason my job exists.

I wrote the poem, “Topspin and Backhands,” to honor Todd’s memory. I also wrote it for the Morsilli family and all those who have lost a loved one due to an incident involving impaired driving. Thank you for your consideration. Thank you for not driving while under the influence. Your decisions have consequences. Topspin and Backhands The chilly banks of February

Adorned the local streets

Two boys joined in laughter

Enjoying vacations treat Soon the sky would darken

When traveling down the lane

Many foot-pounds of metal

Would cause heartfelt pain A cap and boyish grin

Followed him on the court

Topspin and backhands

He excelled at the sport Thoughts are little substitute

For a loving embrace

Still, somehow, a grieving family

Found courage to offer grace And in the young man’s memory

They kept his spirit alive

By beseeching all who’d listen

Not to drink and drive A cap and boyish grin

Followed him on the court

Topspin and backhands

He excelled at the sport The passing of yesterday

Fails to conceal

All of those recollections

A loving family feels For a life cannot be measured

Simply by its length

But more so for such qualities

Like honor, caring and strength A cap and boyish grin

Followed him on the court

Topspin and backhands

He excelled at the sport Angels have yet to beat him

On grass or on clay

The boy with the impish smile

Still has much to say Do not fear my family

Do not fear my friends

Through your loving efforts

My legacy never ends A cap and boyish grin

Followed him on the court

Topspin and backhands

He was a special sort

Robert Houghtaling is the director of the East Greenwich Drug Program.

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