He was our firstborn, the son of two parents who were rather bookish, studious and quiet.
We nicknamed him Attila the Honey, the original strong-willed child with a tender heart. He walked at nine months, for exactly one day, and then he discovered he could run. At about two, he decided he was an adult, and should be able to do everything his parents did. Like climb in the car and turn on the ignition. He liked to go to restaurants – and climb into strangers’ laps like they were old friends.
When he was not quite five, he no longer needed training wheels on his bicycle.
I can’t remember a time he wasn’t into baseball, but there must have been one. His father wasn’t. Everything Travis learned about baseball, and he learned a lot, he didn’t learn from his father.
When he was 15, he went on a mission trip to Haiti. This was when President Clinton had sent U.S. troops in to restore civil order, and not all order had been restored. But he went, got sunburned, heard voodoo drums in the hills at night, fell off the back of a truck, fell in love with a bunch of children, helped with a water project and had one of the most important experiences of his life.
After college, he worked a few years (with a local baseball team, the River City Rascals) and then he went off to Phoenix to take an operations job with an expansion league. The league shut down after a year but he found a job with Marriott and started learning the hotel business. He met this girl named Stephanie at church. They got married in 2008. Since nothing would keep Travis away from the home of Cardinal Nation for long, they moved to St. Louis when she was pregnant with their firstborn, named Cameron, who was born in 2010. Cameron is going to have a little brother come May.
It is my prayer that Cameron will be gentler with his little brother more – a lot more – than his father was with his little brother, Andrew. Travis believed he was fully capable of taking care of Andrew, regardless of what his parents said. Fortunately, Andrew turned out to be made of tough stuff.
Happy birthday, my son. You taught us much – about ourselves, about faith and about love. You still are.
Top photo: Dad holding seven-month-old Travis
Middle photo: Dad holding one-year-old Cameron
Bottom photo: Attila the Honey in his favorite shirt at the 2011 World Series.