Tuesday, June 2, 2015

A celebration of the life of the magnanimous and curious Shayne Becherer

What do you say about a guy who was larger than life? A guy who leapt from cliffs, bridges and even a waterfall that left him breathless and needing CPR?
A guy who mined for gold, worked on boats from here to Alaska and back, did mineral exploration in the mountains by foot and by helicopter?
A guy who danced in the flames of many a fire, crashed his motorcycles into many a thing, including a deer. A guy who dressed in bones and bird feathers, this is not a man who words themselves seem worthy of.

I met Shayne in 1987. Of course, I had already heard of him and seen him in passing, I had a paper route that included his house, which was intriguing already because they had a flock of pigeons that Eric and Steve kept. They would fly in circles around the house.

Shayne was definitely the class clown, never really shutting up, ever, if I remember correctly. I worked at the Mohawk in Cambellton and he worked at the brake and muffler place next door. He would come over to the Mohawk on his lunch break and I’d get in trouble for talking to him while I was supposed to be working. We became fast friends from then on and got in a few automobile accidents together.

He wore his fucking heart on his sleeve and he had a thirst for life that I had never seen. He had such immense knowledge, even at that age, of many aspects of nature. Rocks and minerals were always a passion, his father, Mike was a geologist and Shayne picked that up at a young age. Shayne always had a display of his latest geological formations, wherever he was calling home.
There were always gold flecks and bits of crystal or rock coring that he would lick to show the rock in all its splendour.
Many of the rocks were just kept in plastic bags, labels on the outside, and could only be taken out on very special occasions.

Animals were another love. He knew every species of local animal and its habits and habitat. Hunting was always a passion of Shayne’s from childhood. Whether it was the time he bagged his first deer, when he was a boy, to the time he somehow shot a deer that was grazing in a yard, late at night.
He dragged the deer into the cab of his pick-up because the box was filled with firewood or something, and drove off.
Down the road, the deer came back to life and started kicking Shayne while he was trying to drive.
He ended up fighting off the deer somehow and he got it home and dressed it.
The moose hunts up north, with his brothers and his Dad, were epic and Shayne had some incredible tales that I’m sure most of you have heard.
There was, of course, the time he slipped the truck off the bank and high centred it.
It was 20 below and he had to walk out 2 days to the nearest road. He abandoned the truck there, with hopes of picking it up with the spring thaw.
I think that truck might still be there.
He always had great respect for the animals he hunted and he always expressed that. His room was like a taxidermist’s paradise, with all the skulls, furs, feathers, bones, talons, etc.

Speaking of hunting, I gotta tell you about the time that he visited me on the return trip from a hunt in the interior. I was living in the West End, right downtown and Shayne drops by in his pick-up. I go out and meet him.
He’s pulling all his stuff out of the truck that he’ll need for the night, along with cigarettes, pieces of paper, feathers, shells, bandanas, rocks, a pay-as-you-go cellphone, near-beers, harmonicas, and a fairly protracted story with each item.
Then he goes behind the seat, reaches down and starts pulling his rifles out.
I’m like, “What the hell are you doing?”
He’s like,” My window is broken, I can’t leave them in the truck.”
I notice there are some people right behind us in a car and they are wide eyed. I went up to the window and told them, he’s on a hunting trip, you know, he’s from a small town, and all that, please don’t dial 911.
I told Shayne we should wrap them up for the walk back to my place.

Shayne was a great lover of the sea. It was in his bones. In February 93, I talked him into coming up to Port Hardy to give it a go as a deckhand on a live cod boat. He had not yet tried his hand as a seafarer. He obviously liked it because he kept doing it on and off for the next 20 years.
The first night on the boat, as we baited the hooks, Shayne was smoking pipe tobacco out of a huge, old man pipe, like an old sea dog. It was like he belonged there. And he kind of did.

In the summer of that year, we worked aboard different boats and we crossed paths in Robson Bight in August. By crazy coincidence, both of our boats ended up tied to the wharf in Alert Bay that night and we met Shayne and my brother, Ian, in the local watering hole.
Shayne was in great pain because earlier that day, he had ripped a tooth out with vice grips on the boat. The tooth had been bothering him forever and that was the final outcome.
I don’t know if he had a distrust of the medical system but he never sought medical help when he should have.
There were a few years there when he always seemed be in a cast or on crutches, or his ribs were bruised or broken or some kind of physical ailment brought on by a fight with gravity. It was like being friends with a clumsy stuntman.

Shayne was a Dad. A good Dad. And you can see by Ember, that she has inherited Shayne’s smarts and empathy and love of life. Ember was always talked about in incredibly high regards by Shayne, even when she was a baby. He loved talking about her. And he talked about her like someone talks about their best friend, not just their kid. There’s a difference.
I saw him and Denise up in Vernon, shortly after Ember was born and he looked like a natural with the baby in his arms. Denise did, too but women are better with babies. Men are just sometimes, not that good. Some are good. Shayne was good.
I am glad that Shayne became a parent because he got to share his love unconditionally with his child and there’s nothing in this life better than that. It was just too short.

Shayne would say that he crammed 80 years into 40 and he would be right. Some people take up a book club. Shayne took up skydiving. And cliff jumping. And diving naked into McIvor Lake when other people are just standing on the shore, trying to have a beer and hang out.

To stand here and try to put into words, try to tell everyone in this room about all the incredible things Shayne did in his life, all the people he touched along the way, all the people he inspired, all the fucking insane memories that he left us all with, seems almost trivial. But the fact that all of us are here, all of us have travelled from wherever we were, to be here today to say that we cared about Shayne and he moved each and every one of us, that means a lot. That means everything. I would even go so far as to say that is the meaning of life. Which, I think we all know, is Love.

I told myself I wasn’t going to take too much time talking about Shayne, I didn’t want to ramble, I am sure there are many people who have many things to say about Shayne, so I just want to close by thanking Shayne for being the best friend I could have ever had, as a teenager and as an adult. We shared some incredible memories that I will hold onto forever.
In almost 30 years of friendship, he and I never had a falling out. There were long periods of time when we didn’t speak but when we did, it was like a day had hardly passed.

I wanted to speak to all of you about Shayne because I wanted to make sure it was known that Shayne wasn’t just the Beach Nut, the crazy guy that danced in fires and played his harmonica. Shayne was a highly intelligent, complex, deeply caring person, who was a son, a father, a brother and a friend.

I will miss him for the rest of my life.

"Who we really are, does not come and go, is not born and will never 
die.  Who we really are is Truth itself, love of the highest form, 
unlimited and unending joy, supreme bliss that is the knowledge of our 
ultimate existence.

Your friends have given you happiness and fond memories and now these 
dear souls, through their departure from this world, give you the 
opportunity to find real peace, the source from where they, we and all 
forms come.  Cherish this last gift they can offer to you."


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