The gymnasium was filled to capacity when we arrived. Two large blocks of chairs, with an aisle between, faced the lonely casket.
Chairs were filled with friends and family. It seemed best, for us, to sit in the bleachers.
Row upon row of floral arrangements had been placed on tiered shelving, occupying an area the length of the gym. Local florists had been asked to stop delivering orders since there was no more space for display.
Moments before the appointed hour of the service, a group of young men began to arrive. Neatly groomed in white shirts and jeans, carrying their hats, the young rodeo men quietly took their seats near the back of the congregation.
His name and date of birth were printed on the program. Nineteen short years on earth and today we were mourning his passing.
Riding chaps lay draped over the casket. A large painting of the deceased was placed at the side.
Travis was a rodeo man.
On his way to Alabama to compete in his specialties of Team Roping and Saddle Bronc riding, he was tragically killed while driving through the state of Kentucky.
Tired and excited about the next event, he asked his friend to drive while he rested his head against the back of the seat. As he slept they came upon an 18-wheeler parked on the side of the road. Too late to react, their truck veered off the road and lodged underneath the semi.
The friend survived the crash. Travis did not.
I am usually in control of my emotions at funerals. My husband and grandson were attending this sad occasion with me. Our grandson was, at that time, a bull rider in the rodeo circuit. Knowing the potential for injury and death, our love and concern for him and for these young men was strong.
For them, the excitement and the challenge outweigh the potential danger.
I was determined to control my emotions.
Near the end of the service, the Dad and Mom of the young man quietly approached the casket. A song I’d never heard before, was played through the sound system.
It was the perfect message in a time of sadness. There are angels among us. I hope you take the time to listen to this song.
Angels Among Us by Alabama
Mary Anne Whitchurch Tuck