Travin Kenneth Nelson-Phongphiou-Castillo obituary photo
In Memory of

Travin Kenneth Nelson-Phongphiou-Castillo

February 24, 2001 - July 26, 2017


Travin's life story is a hard thing to tell. Having left us at the early age of 16, he hadn't had the opportunity to complete his life story. Though he had a full life, lots of love, tons of friends, and plenty of fun; he never got to see the world through the eyes of his adult self. He never got to do so many things that we all take for granted. He never got his license or graduated high school, never got to go to college, get married, have kids, get a job, or...

Travin's life story is a hard thing to tell. Having left us at the early age of 16, he hadn't had the opportunity to complete his life story. Though he had a full life, lots of love, tons of friends, and plenty of fun; he never got to see the world through the eyes of his adult self. He never got to do so many things that we all take for granted. He never got his license or graduated high school, never got to go to college, get married, have kids, get a job, or save for retirement. He never got to take himself to a Rated R movie, vote, or even go to a bar. He never got to grow old, get gray hair - or god forbid. LOSE his hair! ..And he was working so hard to get where he knew he wanted to be in order to have the life he knew he wanted to have. Travin wanted to go to college and become an attorney. He wanted to fight for the rights of kids, to advocate for father's rights and also to advocate for a father's responsibilities. He was so good with kids; an awesome big brother to his little sisters, Ashlynn and Inara; and a loving uncle to his beloved nieces and nephew, Gwen, Shayla and Carson. He wanted to be married some day and I know he would've been a great husband and dad.

Travin's life story started even before he was born. His big sister, Erin, had been wanting a little brother for quite some time. When we went in for the ultrasound, and found out it was a boy, she ran screaming "I'm having a brother, I'm having a brother!" From that moment on, there was this tiny boy that was loved and cherished, and we couldn't wait to meet him.

We moved back to the Seattle area when Travin was only a couple of months old. At that time, he was the youngest of 4 kids; the baby boy, the only boy. He came into this world following his sisters Erin, Payton and Ryann. Travin had a great relationship with his siblings, though as with all sibling relationships, sometimes they did have their issues. Travin had a sensitive, snuggly side. When his sisters would be sick, or sad, he'd often climb into bed with them at night as a small child to help them feel better. Travin, for a while, wanted to share a room with his sister, Payton. She told a story about when they first moved into the same room. They would stand on their beds facing one another and jump from one bed to the other, giving each other a high 5 as they passed. As he got older, he became protective of them. Man, though, was he ornery when he wanted to be. He would pick on the girls sometimes, tickling them or hiding their toys. Always the prankster, he sometimes didn't realize that his sisters did not find it amusing.

Later on, through marriage, Travin gained 2 brothers and a sister. Stephanie, Jay, and Hunter became the brothers he never had and another big sister. He was still the baby but at least he was no longer the only boy. He finally had some boys to rough house with, to appreciate his boyish charm. I think J and Hunter enjoyed having a little brother.

When Travin was little, his favorite thing in the whole world was Spider Man. He had a bedroom all covered in Spider Man; Spiderman blankets, pillows, sheets; a spiderman rug, spiderman wall decals, a spiderman pullout couch, and a spiderman chair. Even a TV and DVD player. All of his clothes and shoes were spiderman. Eventually we painted his room red. In his memory, his oldest sister, Stephanie, has tattooed Spiderman on her arm along with Travin's initials.

Travin got bloody noses all the time when he was little. I remember being called out of class when I was in college to go tend to him when his nose would bleed. It'd bleed for hours at a time. He once had a bloody nose for FOUR HOURS and finally the paramedics offered to take the girls to school in the ambulance since they were late. I once asked a doctor if a child could bleed to death by way of nose bleed. He eventually had his nose cauterized which at his age, he had to be put under for. He got a

spiderman blanket and a teddy bear he called Blueberry. Though his nose did eventually stop bleeding, the blanket and the bear never ceased to be important to him.

That wasn't the only time he'd been to the ER. There were several occasions; sports related, trampoline related, and a nasty gash that almost took his thumb. But my favorite was when he went to the ER with a knitting needle in his arm. Yep, a knitting needle. Payton had been knitting earlier in the day, and when the kids started horsing around - as they often did - he somehow landed on top of her needle!

As he grew into a younger man, entering middle school, he really came into his own. This is when the calls from teachers started coming. He's such a sweet boy and we love having him in class. He's incredibly funny... but also takes a lot of attention as the class clown. He was always the clown, always finding ways to make people laugh. I don't know that anybody who's known him has not gotten a few good laughs.

6 years ago, Travin finally became the big brother. He loved not being the baby anymore, having two little sisters to take care of and dote on. He was the protective big brother, but always with the laughter that was so typical. He'd tickle the girls or play with them, and occasionally play until someone would end up hurt. Ashlynn and Inara loved their big brother, and never missed an opportunity to play with him on the trampoline, get piggy back rides, or even play board games or video games.

Anybody who knows us knows that our family does not end at blood or step siblings. Our family grows by love not by familial ties. He has another brother that was thrown into the mix years ago and who he looked up to very much. Jake lived with us for a few years and made a lasting impression on Travin. He may have been the first man in Travin's life to really show him what it meant to stick around and live up to your promises.

Travin has always been a kid who holds family dear. He loves his siblings, his mom, and Rene. But he also had a special place in his heart for other family as well. Just the day before he died, he called Grandma just to tell her that he loved her. That's very typical loving behavior for him. He was super close to his Aunt Phi and her family, spending much time with them before he became too old and "cool" to hang out. He had a way of making people feel special, and of always making people laugh. James' parents are another family-away-from-home that can attest to how much his love spread outside of our home.

Though Travin's family was important to him, as he got older his friends became more and more important. We'd make family plans, often at Travin's request, that would more-often-than-not be cancelled because something came up with a friend. Just the day before he passed away, Travin had been playing on the trampoline with a group of his friends. Ashlynn wanted so badly to play on the trampoline. He and his friends got off and allowed her to play, and she came into the house in tears. "Travin is being mean," She told me. Apparently, she hadn't wanted the trampoline at all, she had wanted her brother to play with her. He so gently and lovingly explained to her, "I'm not being mean, Ashlo, I'm a teenager. And I'm hanging out with my friends. I still love you." He loved to hang out at the house playing videos or on the trampoline, go to a friend's home, work out or play sports, go swimming, and recently to go for drives with his newly licensed friends. We've loved watching Travin grow into a young man, and watch his friends grow as well. He had a great group of friends, who have been a great comfort to the family since Travin's passing.

Travin was super interested in sports, but never managed to get through an entire season. He'd always manage to injure himself somehow, though not even while playing the sport! During wrestling, he managed to just about cut off an entire thumb! He was doing the dishes and went to grab a falling cup, only to smash it into the cupboard and slash his thumb. He spent the rest of the season with a stitched and bandaged thumb. During football, he ended up on crutches. He did play Macho Volleyball one year. Their uniform consisted of white Nike gear, yet another reason he needed to get new Nikes! He had the drive and interest in sports, but his injuries always told him otherwise. He did, however, find his calling in our trampoline.

The kids put in a raffle ticket at the zoo just after we bought our new home 13 years ago. They won a brand new, huge trampoline. The trampoline cost us several ER visits over the years, but it brought us so much joy! Travin was getting so great at doing tricks. He could jump high enough that we could see him over the top of the house while driving down the street! It was a popular place for the kids to hang out. He hung out there with his friends and with the family. You'd often find the kids not even jumping, but just all sitting around talking about something that was going on in their lives.

Every person that knows Travin will describe him by his sense of humor. He was such a clown, a true entertainer, some would say a real prankster. He loved to tell jokes or play jokes on people. He'd jump out from the hallway and scare people. He loved to do anything that'd get a rise out of people or make people laugh. He loves to tell dad jokes just to see how uncomfortable he could make people, and that's something he's known for amongst his friends.

In the last several years, Travin has gotten to know Rene as a father figure. When they first met, Rene was a great friend. The relationship changed over time into more of a father/son relationship. Rene just recently, since Travin's passing, heard from Travin's sisters and friends that Travin had wanted to take on Rene's name. Though there wasn't enough time to make that happen for him in life, we are adding Castillo to his last name; not CHANGING, but adding to. It's only right to give him in death what he wanted so badly in life. The two of them had a very sarcastic, fun-filled, humorous, almost juvenile relationship. You'd often find Travin and Rene yelling at each other from across the street or telling fart jokes at the dinner table. When Travin was feeling down or needed to talk, he'd often go for long drives with Rene.

Travin's love for his friends, for his family, for his siblings is huge. But I'd like to think that one of the people he loved most was his mom. Travin was such a mama's boy. He always had been, and I'd like to think he always would have been. Travin was open and honest with me about his life, his mistakes, his goals. Since his passing, many of his friends have mentioned things that they thought would surprise me, and I'd say "I know," which often surprises them. Travin wasn't a perfect kid. He's made his fair share of stupid teenage choices. To some extent, I'm almost happy that he had a chance to make those mistakes. Knowing he lost his life at the age of 16, I like that he was able to experience life, make mistakes, have fun. I remember a talk we had just before he passed away. He had just gotten in trouble and we were home for the day. He was chopping wood - or more accurately, he was smashing anything and everything that was burnable into firewood. He talked about the mistakes he has made in the past year, talked about how he was going to get himself from where he was in life to where he wanted to be. We talked about girls, we talked about his friends, we talked about all of his parents. myself, Rene, and Vinnie. He got a lot off his chest. I know for certain that he died knowing exactly how much I love him and how special he is to me. I know he knew how proud I was of him and how much I appreciated him. I

know how much he loved me and appreciated all that we've been through together. That's such a blessing, and I'll always be thankful for that day.

The last night that Travin was with us, he had his girlfriend over and they were watching movies. When she left, he was hanging out with Payton and I. He was so excited about his new girl and we were just horsing around. Payton and I still can't remember exactly what we'd been talking about for two hours, but I remember them yelling and teasing each other in the kitchen, I remember him laughing and joking. I remember he was smiling and just so full of energy and life. I'll never forget the feel of that night, even if I can't remember all of the words. And, of course, he had no shirt on. Typical Travin.

Travin's life was way too short, but he lived a lot. He was so loved, and left such a lasting impression on so many people. It would have been just amazing to see him grow into the man he was becoming, to watch him accomplish his goals and make new ones. He was an amazing boy and was becoming an amazing man. His life was taken way too soon. The amount of time we each knew him was not enough time, but the love and laughter we felt from him will last a lifetime. He'll be with us always.