|Travis Phillip Wall August 23, 1984 of Weymouth, Massachusetts -- September 2, 2020.|
|Travis on the Indian Chief|
September 4, 2020
As some of you already know, Travis committed suicide Wednesday night (September 2).
Travis was always a loose cannon. Sometimes a little scary, even, but fucking brilliant and hilarious and deep. When he was 8, he figured out how to make and wire a doorbell for his bedroom. When he was 12, he hotwired his first car--a Bell Atlantic truck, actually--and proceeded to smash it into 2 others in the lot to earn his first arrest. I never remember a time as a child when he was not fixing bikes, taking something of my grandmother's apart while she was screaming for him not to touch it, or creating a tool to do exactly what he needed. While I was sorting through his papers, I found that he had continued to do this in a pile of tool ideas written out to send in to Snap-on. My dad likes to say he "never didn't do the wrong thing," meaning the opposite of what one does to live a quiet, uneventful, and away from legal trouble kind of life. And while it's absolutely true, he managed to fix almost every problem he made, make a home out of every situation in which he found himself, and fix and every broken piece of equipment he came across, and I envied him for being so adaptable and resilient.
If you knew Trav, you know that as resilient as he was, he did have a habit he couldn't quit. He struggled for roughly a decade with a heroin addiction. He hated heroin as much as he loved it, and for the last many, many years he tried endlessly to get clean and then hated himself for not being able. Over those years, many of you have loved the fuck out of him, learned from him, accepted him, and tried to help him kick the shit over and over again. And I appreciate you guys so much for that. We didn't have any family on whom we could consistently rely because of their own issues, me and Trav, so those of you who filled in and who became his family were so, so meaningful to him. In the end, I think maybe he decided that he was not going to let heroin be what did him in. But in another very real way, perhaps not being able to cope with his failures at managing his addiction is exactly what did.
I know this is kind of scattered. Everything is, right now. We don't know what we're doing yet as far as services, especially as complicated by COVID, but feel free to let me know if you want that info when we have it, or to send or post a pic or anecdote, as myself and the rest of our family will cherish each of these."
Go ahead and hate me. I'm just gonna do my best here. Travis and I had mostly a contentious relationship. I struggled to be his step-mom from 1990 - 2003. This is agonizing.
At first things were great
with Talbot, (^Travis' dad).
But he had demons that
multiplied and came
out of hiding.
I don't believe Travis committed suicide. Heroin addiction killed him, which is a disease. That disease killed him. Why he became addicted to heroin? He was a tortured soul.
Now I often get time messed up, years mixed up but I'll do my best.
I am so sorry for his loss. Travis
was 6 when he came to live with me (and his father Talbot) in my home.
I SUCKED at step parenting, didn't know the first thing what to do, but I tried like hell, supported the kid and tried to help. I had also just come from a hellish divorce and was grieving. Frying pan to fire.
The kids had been through hell with their own mother and her leaving, and their father too it turns out, and they were besides themselves already. Put me through the ringer. When they moved in Talbot just dumped them (all the child care) on me. I put up with that for years until I learned it was more appropriate for Talbot to be the primary parent. Then I went back to school to further my career.
Travis lived with us until he was 19. It was always difficult between us and ended badly. By the time Travis was 19 I wanted him to move out. Travis constantly mocked me, made me feel bad and never ever lifted a finger to help me out. Didn't matter to him.
In the end, Talbot developed a deadly habit of partying with minors, and would buy alcohol for them. He was also abusing drugs. Those were his 'Colonel Sanders' days. He had a white hair do and wore a white beard just like the KFC guy. I was already at the end of my rope, then was forced to divorce Talbot to escape his abuse (the year prior he had tried to kill me in a blacked out rage) and I was also forced to leave my job and the state as Talbot was stalking me and one offense away from prison for said stalking. Courts said I had no choice but to leave: I had to lose everything and leave the state so the kids would not lose their compulsive stalking father to prison.
I wish I could have helped Travis more but he fought me at literally everything. I even quit drinking so he'd have at least one sober parent. I had intentions of continuing as step-mom to Travis, hope springs eternal, maybe we could work things out after I left. But. Turns out Travis was helping his father with the stalking. Leaving piles of crushed beer cans. Waiting for me to go to work. Stealing my mail. Stabbed two of my tires one night when I left my car in the driveway. When Talbot and I first separated Travis came to the house at 75 Alpine Road in Weymouth to see me. Travis was fine when he got there, we started talking but then apparently some oxycontin (later learned) kicked in and he started threatening me. I managed to get him out of the house and the next day I got a permanent restraining order to match his father's. I was too traumatized to endure any more. I have had no contact since, except for a little with Pam, when she needed advice, and the last time I believe was when she made this call to me.
So I have a painful history with Travis but I wanted to give some honest context here before I recall some of the good stories about this young man. I did love him. In a sense, I grieved his loss since I last saw him 17 years before he passed away.
I never bore children of my own and wanted to be the kids' step-mom. I was fucked up too but I tried to be a good mom. Talbot and Travis took that away from me.
|me and Buster|
as a kitten
Travis loved his cat Buster. He used to do this thing with him, and I was always trying to stop him, but he loved to throw Buster up in the air, to do a flip and land on the couch.
I loved Buster too, got him as a kitten from a grain and feed store, and fancied him my cat, but he was truly Travis' cat.
He also seemed to love our neighborhood, The Birches. You wouldn't find one birch though, they all got used for fuel during the Depression. And Alpine Road? Oaks, huge tall oak trees. The only pine we had was a blue spruce we planted.
|Buster the Flying Beast|
kind of hard to see Buster the Flying Beast in this photo, but he
is in flight with the double doors in the background, his tail to the
left up in the air. (This photo was flipped backward.) Travis got such
a kick out of playing this game with Buster.
Travis had a sardonic sense of humor. He was very intelligent = Read Travis' Semantics Exam Essay but just wanted to get in trouble all the time. It may seem funny or cute now, but back then trying to parent him was a nightmare, especially as a step-mom. Such a smart kid.
I went full on square trying somehow to balance things out. I guess I am a square anyways.
Travis had a good heart. He liked his neighborhood, 'The Birches' and his home, 'The Blue Moon'. But he was self-destructive.
When Pam (8 or 9) and Trav (6 or 7) were little every store I would take them to they'd immediately mess around with everything they could get their hands on, especially the toys, playing with all the sample items giving them a what-for. I was, of course, horrified at that behavior. I was also totally over-protective especially as they were not my own kids.
|Travis at 7 with a holiday gift |
from my parents in their home.
When the kids were little, and first moved in with me, at 6 and 8 years old, I tried to take them, Travis and his sister Pam, out for roller skating, going to Nantasket Beach in Hull, or bicycling, swimming, walks, roller blading, food shopping, stuff like that. Every time it was time to leave and go home Pam would have a temper tantrum. She would do this in the stores as well. One time she opened the truck door while I was taking a left turn, Travis sitting between us, literally almost giving me a heart attack. Thankfully the kids did not fall out of the truck. Pam went through her own troubles and moved out when she was 11. Their father Talbot had a bad drinking problem that just got worse over time, and he followed in his parents' footsteps by becoming a brute every night drunk.
When Travis was about 11? he had his tonsils out. (I worked and provided health insurance for the family.) Travis had always had this thing he did when sleeping, snored real bad, and he'd sleep on his stomach and wake up suddenly, having a real hard time breathing, open his mouth and kind of gasp, eyes wide open, still asleep. Apnea. So we took him to the doctors and they recommended a tonsillectomy. When he woke up in the hospital still under anesthesia he said some really nasty things. I can't recall word for word but he even shocked the nurse. Something like 'what the f*ck?? you fucking bitch' and honestly I can't remember. I was of course horrified but later learned that it's common for people waking up from surgery, but Travis was just a little kid. After the operation while he was recovering for several days his voice sounded just like Mickey Mouse. He got to have lots of ice cream.
|Travis in 2002|
|Denly's Gardens Pizzeria|
I can't remember
when she was born?
I am happy to see Travis rode that Indian motorcycle. (Photo at top in Pam's eulogy) It was a 1938 I think, Indian Chief. We bought it as a rolling 'basket case' and Talbot worked on it, for years, restoring it to absolute glory. I put in lots of money (credit cards) into that thing. Every tax return, too. I made sure Talbot got it in the divorce, and I am glad Travis got to ride the thing. At that time, (2003) Talbot said it was close to being worth about 50,000 dollars. I hope they can sell it and give the money to Travis' daughter or something.
John Leonard said about Travis: "was thinking about how high Travis's IQ was this week (i think the thought came to me before I found out that he passed). At a very young age I remember him correcting the false concept of "pencil lead" - that it was really graphite..."
John's mom Fan had parented (fostered) Cheryl, the kids' mother back when she was a teen. That is how she met Talbot, latched onto him and gave him two kids. It was John that told me Travis had passed away.
By the time Talbot and I got together he worked on the Leonards' autos a lot and I would hang out with him and help out. When he wasn't in school Travis would ride his mini-bike that his dad made him, around their driveway. It was a tiny little motor bike, so cute, like Travis, who was really little back then for his age. Travis' father built the mini-bike from scratch for him, and he wore a helmet. I must have a photo of it somewhere but my stuff is in storage and I've not been able to find my photos for about a decade.
Travis wore this T-shirt that read 'FUCT' across the chest. It made me cringe, especially when he insisted on wearing it to school. I think once he actually changed into something else to appease me.
|Pam at 8 years old|
on the beach at the Cape
waiting for Dad to finish
a Riley's construction
(Before the tantrum because we had to leave)
|I tried to get him to quit. I don't remember |
actually seeing him smoke in front of me.
|Travis played guitar. His Uncle Joe|
gave him lessons.
Once shortly after the kids moved in with me, Cheryl, the kids' biological mother, called. I had heard a lot about Cheryl from them, and the kids were traumatized. It was late, the kids were in bed on a school night, and she was drunk. I answered the phone and told her off. I was trying to protect the kids. I wish I could have taken that back, and given the phone to Pam. Cheryl never tried to sober up and call back.
|Travis liked to skateboard, and BMX bicycles. |
These two photos above are a collage Travis had to do for school that first year (1991?). Hard to believe but he was pretty small as a kid. He grew real tall. At the age above he had this little dirtbike and would ride around the Leonard's yard with it while Talbot was working on restoring John's 1938 Cadillac LaSalle Hearse, or repairing their other vehicles there.
Travis wasn't allowed to use my computer when I wasn't there. So he used it more then. And also with permission he used it for school and his legal troubles.
|He ignored this sign on my door|
And he created things on the computer sometimes that were questionable at best.
|I found these fake IDs on my computer Travis made|
|Instead of doing his homework|
|Getting out of detention to work for his father|
|Like father like son|
|Why he gave them the |
incorrect middle initial
and misspelled address
we can only guess.
|Travis with friends, second from left.|
Looks like he inherited that auburn
beard from his father.
It was a shock to unblock him on fecebook
and see him grown into a man.
Travis' loss is heartbreaking.
Rest in Peace, Travis, please. Now maybe you may do something I ask of you.