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A Tribute to My Brother
My brother, Mickey Lee Travis was killed (murdered, basically, by the mining company) on early Tuesday morning after a mining construction accident the previous evening in Hopkins County, Kentucky. According to Hopkins County Coroner John Walters, a three-ton rock fell and struck Mickey about 9 p.m. on Monday, August 19, 2002. The coroner said that Mickey died of severe head injuries. Mickey was working at Gunther & Nash, and was working on a mine construction project at the Warrior Coal Company about three miles east of Madisonville. Mickey, born July 16, 1973, died at age 29, on early Tuesday morning, August 20, 2002.

I want to extend my thanks to everyone who called, sent flowers, or sent cards. Mickey's death was all too sudden, and it has left us without words.

»Click here to read a column about Mickey, written by Daryl K. Tabor of the Kentucky New Era in Hopkinsville, Ky.
»Click here to read a thank you from our family.
»Click the following to see photos of Mickey's tombstone: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

Thank You
The family of Mickey Travis wishes to thank all of those who attended the memorial service, sent sympathy cards, floral tributes, memorial donations, and the dozens who brought food to our home, telephoned, and visited during the recent, sudden loss of our grandson, son, and brother.

Thanks also goes to Gilbert Funeral Home and the Rev. Donnie Howton for his words of comfort. Mickey's untimely death will leave a void in our hearts, and your love and support did not go unnoticed even in the hectic days surrounding his passing. We will make an effort to thank you individually, and we pray that we do not leave anyone out. If we do, please know in our hearts that we appreciate the love and concern shown to us.

Denver, Lola Mae, Marlin, Matthew, and Jennifer Patton

In Our Sudden Loss
We would like to express our sincere gratitude and appreciation to all of our friends and family for your kind expressions of sympathy and for sharing in the sorrow we have experienced during the loss of our son and brother, Mickey Travis.

We thank the hundreds of people who came to be with us at the funeral home and who offered us moral and spiritual support as Mickey was called to eternal rest. Please continue to keep us in your thoughts and prayers in the coming days and months. God bless you all. We will miss you so much, Mick!

Regina, Matt, and Jenny

Losing a Friend Difficult at 29
By Daryl Tabor

Ideas for my weekly column haven't often come from deep personal experiences. Yet, after losing a high school friend to an unfortunate accident last week, my mind will not allow me focus on much else.

At 29, much like being a teenager, you rarely think about your own mortality or that of the people your own age. At such a young age, your thoughts on life are directed toward starting your own family, buying a new house or settling into a career. The inexperience and live–for–the–day attitude of youth begin to give way to thoughts of tomorrow and finally settling into who you are.

Twenty–nine is too early to think about death or being taken away from loved ones and too old to have not forged lasting impressions on others. Perhaps the best time of one's life begins in your late 20s, when you begin to discover all that life truly has to offer.

Maybe there is no better example of this than high school friend Mickey Travis.

Mickey, or Mick as his friends preferred, died last Tuesday after a mining accident near Madisonville late the night before. From what I understand, Mick was straggling behind a group headed up from underground for a meal break when a wall of rock fell on him. He had been on the job about two months and did not normally work below ground. Fate simply had his number that day.

Like most people at 29, when Mick woke up that morning, he expected to be lying in the same bed that very night. That day, Mick could not have anticipated he would never again experience a warm summer sunset, feel the chill of a crisp autumn breeze or share a laugh with friends.

And on that day, the people who knew Mick could not imagine they would never hear another one of his quirky stories or see his warm smile.

Mick and I were not the closest of friends, but we were friends nonetheless. Not to overstate our relationship, but we did share some common experiences like spending six years in homeroom together and sitting in the same classrooms during our high school years. As senior class president, I shared with Mick, our vice–president, in making some of those all–important decisions related to our last year in school.

In fact, of our class of 83 teenagers ready to take on the world, Mick and I were two of the half–dozen or so who after the 11 years since graduation that had yet to take the plunge into marriage or parenthood. That is certainly a bond that brings any two men a little closer, is it not?

I did not get to see a lot of Mick after grasping that high school diploma a few steps ahead of him in a hot gymnasium in 1991. Like so many of those I graduated with -- including the very best of friends -- we went our separate ways after that evening, never giving much thought to the possibility of never again speaking.

You might not have always been able to understand the point Mick was trying to make, but he was never short on stories and he never met a stranger. One would be hard–pressed to find a person who did not like him or had anything bad to say about him. After hearing just one of his awkward stories, you couldn't help but be endeared to his personality... or at least feel better about your own story–telling abilities.

Mick was not perfect, not unlike every other person I've ever known. He battled his demons, however, he had recently begun to push those demons aside in that transition from the youth to the wisdom of age. His strength in doing this was admired and welcomed by all who knew him.

I'm uncertain I could overcome with such grace all that was dished to him, including the results he endured from a terrible vehicle accident he was involved in during our seventh–grade year. That year, when the wreck kept him out of school a good portion of the year, he was chosen out of respect by his peers as a class favorite.

Aside from the visible scars carried from that wreck, Mick lost the practical use of his right eye, an affliction he still made light of even after 15 years later. He never complained or grumbled about the hand life dealt him. He just went on, day in and day out, as Mickey Travis.

He always seemed perfectly content with simply being Mickey Travis and never tried to be anything else. While so many of us spend our time trying to be something less than ourselves, there was someone in our midst being himself. Maybe that's why anyone who knew him liked him so much.

The last week has been one of much reflection for me and my friends, especially for those still close to Mick more than 20 years after first meeting on the playground of that elementary school in rural Crittenden County. They were at the funeral, like me, struggling to cope with the loss... struggling to deal with the reality of a mortality we never gave much thought to until losing someone special.

For me, perhaps it's seeing Mick's closest friends, some of whom are my dearest friends, struggle for words and swelling with tears that is too much. Or maybe it's the reality of my very own mortality smacking me in the face making me reconsider things in my own personal life, but this loss has been difficult.

Maybe in his death our friend finally taught us something he had been trying to for years. Live life and enjoy who you are, because tomorrow is never guaranteed.

We'll all miss you, Mick.

Daryl K. Tabor is the former news editor for the Kentucky New Era.