The obituary: A balancing act between reverence and candor
My older brother passed away six years ago. I wrote the following obituary in one sitting, relying on a flood of memories that poured forth sculpting the character of a unique individual.
It was published in our small hometown journal.
Richard (Beau) de Boisvert Ives passed away in Taos, NM on August 6, 2017 age 73 yrs.
Beau was a graduate of PHS class of ’63.
Beau was a quintessential free thinker, world vagabond and master at financial work-arounds.
His Internet avatar was an antique photo of author Leo Tolstoy in fur cap, great coat, walking staff and cloth bundle of meager possessions on his back leaving the security of his Moscow home. The beginning of the hero’s journey. Beau’s life also mirrored the hero’s journey; shun security, explore exotic geographical locales without guides, return home with gifts, usually knowledge / insight / wisdom.
He eschewed formal education, instead he was seldom without a thought-provoking book: from the cutting edge of esoteric science and health, to travel, philosophy and spirituality. Two books that profoundly influenced his world view were: The Book of the Hopi and The Teachings of Don Juan. He drew a humanitarian perspective from these two seminal works which grounded him in the ritual of ancient culture and the spirituality of folk wisdom. Ever the radical, he followed no orthodox religious path, preferring to find comfort and clarity in the embrace of nature and indigenous cultures.
His homes included a gold miner’s shack on the Arizona / Mexico border, his hand-built adobe homestead in the sage deserts of New Mexico. He travelled Australia in an RV and built a final house in Samipata, Bolivia this year. He was an experiential learner and taught himself construction skills, music and art. He could laugh bemused over the occasional follies when experiential learning let him down. He once chuckled as he watched the adobe slurry he had laboriously applied to the wall face of his small adobe home near Taos crack and fall off the. ‘Did you see that?” I did. “Looks like I’ll have to do that over …. maybe this Spring.”
He was a healer practicing a myriad of traditions within the alternative medicinal arts. Caring for those who had not the tools to heal themselves. He was both the champion and practitioner of self-empowerment. In 1988 he went to Barrow, Alaska to drop a huge crystal into the Beaufort Sea in the hopes of uniting the world through a common cause: peace. A few weeks later a rare event occurred; a pod of Gray whales was stranded by early ice packs within miles of where the crystal had been dropped. The climax was Russian ice breakers, breaking diplomatic ice, by steaming in to help the Americans free the trapped cetaceans. His part in this can be seen on Youtube; (“Barrow Ceremony and Gray Whale rescue” 1988 — 53K views).
His passions were many, from musical explorations with exotic instruments to crafting naive art and attracting a myriad of interesting people, especially women, who passed through his life.
Pretense had little place in his life, you got what you saw: One of his last pictures from Bolivia showed him outside the small house he was finishing in an ancient Patagonia fleece jacket wearing a faded Our Lady of Guadalupe head scarf. The hard labor he put into that project irreparably damaged his already compromised kidneys and he was forced to sell what was to be his last home and return to the U.S., essentially to die.
You lived a great life, Beau, you did it on your terms: blessing and being blessed on your physical journey here on our beautiful earth. Your passionate intent and actions remain sacred to your memory by all who knew you or met you! You will be warmly remembered by friends and family.
As a tribute I think what Beau would have wanted is for us to go out into the sacred night with clear skies, locate his favorite star cluster Pleiades, and stare into that firmament where we hope he may now be at rest in our true home: held safely in the loving arms of the divine mother.
American-born photographer Thomas Ives has worked for international news and feature magazines for over 38 years. His photo essays and images have appeared in National Geographic, Time, Geo, Stern, Newsweek, Life, Smithsonian, and many others publications. He lives in Vilcabamba with his Ecuadorian partner. For more about Thomas, click here.
Thomas Ives may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and more of his work may be seen on his Instagram account: thomas_h_ives