Nara Visa’s Travis Nelson has passed away.
She was a big part of the community, and one of Quay County’s proudest residents. She spent her life working to help 4-Hers and Garden Clubs throughout the county.
I can remember Travis from the age of 6. I always thought of her as the lady that time forgot. She was always there at the enchilada supper, Election Day, bake sales, school board meetings and dances. In fact I was certain she was probably there when Nara Visa was built.
Over the years, my family and I grew close to Travis and came to know her as an extended member of the family. I know many families that felt this way.
She was tough as nails and had a resolve stronger than the northern winds. She spent much of her later years working on the Nara Visa Community Center. She literally poured sweat and blood into that building and without her efforts I do not think we would have such a beautiful facility today.
I witnessed and took part in some of that hard work. It was part of a summer work program. Chris Arnett and I thought it would be an easy-money job. Little did we know that we would be working so hard for every penny we earned that summer.
We must have mowed 60,000 acres, painted 40,000 feet of boards and mopped until the well ran dry. We dusted, moved and rearranged rooms that I had no idea even existed. All the while, Travis was right there, working with us. If anyone knew the value of a hard day’s work it was Travis.
Even when she cut her arm and was bleeding, she smiled and went on working.
Now don’t get me wrong. Travis had a heart of gold and even she would break down and cry. I remember one time my dad came to me and said he needed my help. We went out to Travis’ and she was in the garage, crying.
I did not know what happened, but as I walked up to the garage, I saw a dog wrapped in a blanket. It was her friend “Muggsy.” As I covered up the grave she knelt down.
She ran her hand over the grave and I thought she was smoothing it out or leveling the dirt. Then I realized she was petting Muggsy one last time.
One of my favorite Travis stories took place a few years ago, when a rattlesnake crawled out from underneath the trailer behind her house. Most people would have either killed the snake or dropped what they were doing and ran.
Travis picked up a tree branch and began nudging the snake. “Shoo,” she said. “Go on now. Shoo.”
Moments like these make me grateful I had the pleasure of knowing Travis Nelson.
Thomas Garcia writes for Freedom New Mexico. Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org