On March 11, 2017, hundreds of family & friends gathered at the Kaslo Legion to pay tribute to the life of Nyle Mulkey-Chose. The following speech by Randy Morse was given during the course of that gathering.
SOME OF US come into this world apparently by accident. Too many of us arrive unwanted and unwelcome.
But others are the result of long-held dreams and intense longing, beloved long before their birth, greeted with tears of welcoming joy at their entry from womb to world.
Nyle was such a baby.
Now, it’s not impossible to fail as a human being when your parents so clearly adore you. But the love leveled at Nyle from well before his official entry onto this strutting stage we call Life clearly upped his chances at becoming a Good Man.
So, how did he do?
How do we measure a man’s life? Is it the amount of time he spends among us?
Or is it the quality of that time?
Is it the simple math that counts? The number of years, months, days and hours he moved on this plane of existence?
Or is it the vastly more complex equation that somehow takes into account the influence he had on the world around him that truly addresses that question?
In Nyle’s case, the answer is obvious.
NYLE BECAME THAT rarest of humans. A man — a young man — bursting with energy & enthusiasm… who was also kind and thoughtful.
On a planet full of pessimists, he was an optimist. In a world with a seemingly endless supply of men who are braggarts and cowardly narcissists, Nyle was modest and bravely comfortable in his own skin.
In an age when few men take the time to listen to the wisest among us — our kids and grandkids — Nyle would unselfconsciously hunker down to eye level and seriously converse with a five-year-old at the drop of a hat.
Because he clearly understood what Antoine de Saint-Exupéry meant when he wrote in The Little Prince, “All grown-ups were once children… but only few of them remember it.”
AT A TIME when so many sons and daughters are estranged from their parents, Nyle had their backs. I mean, how many sons have given their mothers a box of simulated cow dung, and inscribed the inside of the lid with those immortal words, “Don’t worry Mom, I’ve got your shit covered!”?
Funny? Yes. But he clearly meant it. And Susie knew it. Seeing her and Nyle together, and later, her and Nyle and Natalia together, served as a constant reminder of how lucky we are to be in the presence of people like this — and how lucky they were to have one another.
The French philosopher Voltaire once said, “It is with men as it is with books; a few good ones make all the difference.”
I give you Nyle.
I can count on one hand the number of people I have known who have truly followed their passion, wherever it may lead. In the process enriching and inspiring everyone around them.
For most of us, the risk of following our dreams is too great. The danger we might fail, the chance we might not make enough money, that we might not squirrel away enough for a comfortable retirement, the worry that others may view our chosen life path as “not serious enough,” leads us to jobs we loath, to living lives of quiet, resentful desperation, wishing we were somewhere else, doing something else.
Ah, but there are a few — I call them “artists of life” — who take a different path.
Nyle was one of them.
LIKE THE GREAT philosopher and father of the concept of national parks, John Muir, Nyle lived his vividly rich life following this simple admonition:
“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness. The mountains are calling and I must go.”
Nyle entered and exited this life in the rugged West Kootenay he so dearly loved. Nothing made him happier than landing a lunker in that special spot up near the end of the lake. And if there was something better in this world than launching down a couloir, shreddin’ the gnar through waist-deep pow on a sunny Saturday in the Selkirks, Nyle hadn’t found it.
What he did find, however, was a way to combine his passion for the mountains with the need to earn a living. For him there was no line between work and play. They were synonymous.
This made Nyle that most elusive of beings — an essentially happy man. His fundamental goodness, his pleasure in all the small things that add up to a full, rich life, were infectious.
For Nyle’s parents, Susan and Lars. For his partner, Natalia, and the rest of his family. For Rachel and Jerry and John and their children — and for so many of you gathered here today, who, like me, are so much more family than friend — Nyle will be sorely missed.
Yet is he truly absent?
SOME LIVES LIVED are but the tiniest of pebbles. When tossed into the Pool of Life, the resultant ripples never reach the beach.
Others’ lives are big as boulders, sending wave after wave crashing merrily onto the shore, long after the rock itself has sunk from sight.
Nyle was a beautiful, boyish, boulder of a man. And his ripples will continue to splash onto the shores of our lives for the rest of our days.
As a father, the greatest compliment I can pay him is to — and Janet can confirm this — tell you that every time I would leave an encounter with Nyle, I would comment, “God, he’s such a nice guy. He’s so full of empathy and enthusiasm. Hell, I could talk with him about knee surgeries all night! He reminds me so much of Andreas” — my equally beloved son.
I know that sentiment is fully shared by all Nyle’s extensive Kaslo “family” — we all considered him, quite literally, one of us, and loved him accordingly.
MUIR ONCE WROTE, “Nature is ever at work building and pulling down, creating and destroying, keeping everything whirling and flowing, allowing no rest but in rhythmical motion, chasing everything in endless song out of one beautiful form into another.”
Chasing everything in endless song. Out of one beautiful form into another….
Every time we see the excitement of a child catching his first fish, Nyle will be there.
Every time the snow falls and young men reach excitedly for their boards, Nyle will be there.
Every time we look out our window and see a happy bird we haven’t observed before, perched on a branch and looking our way, there he is again.
Nyle is now the morning mist over Kootenay Lake. He’s the krunchy newcomer at Baldface, laughing with delight as he flies down a stupidly steep gully, knee deep in pow.
He’s that unexpected jolt of inexplicable joy that will hit Natalia and Susan and Lars and each of us out of the blue every now and then, leaving us silently smiling without quite knowing why.
And then, it will dawn on us, like the summer sun suddenly popping over the Purcells, and again, we’ll smile.
Because we’ll know it’s Nyle.
“And now here is my secret; a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
And here’s a video of the gathering, featuring all the folks who stepped up and shared their memories of and love for Nyle.