I heard the news that one of my grandfathers had passed on. Joseph Rupert was born near Waashtikan north of Fort George. His wife Mary died in 1975, they had two children and adopted one and have 14 grandchildren.
Joseph, like a patient grandfather, always fulfilled the demands that I made of him. Back when I worked in radio, I frequently came into contact with him. Either to record his many stories or just to chat on the radio. He was always ready with a song, story or legend, most of all, laughter always accompanied his stories.
The twinkle in his eye transcended the radio.
By just listening to him. It was easy to sense the smile on his face. He never complained, when I called him. I consider myself honoured and privileged to have spent some time with him, even if it was just on the phone or in a borrowed camp along the road to shoot a video. I am thankful and humbled for his gifts to me… To all of us.
The tracks he left on the ground may fade, but the gifts… The stories, songs and legends live on. They live on in the recordings that we have made together. His stories come from a time, which is fast becoming a distant memory.
Many still remember, but the day is fast approaching when the memories will become stories. To be carried on, whether we remember or not will then be up to us. Perhaps that is why he, like so many other Elders, so freely gave his stories, so we would remember.
I would sometimes pay him a visit with a fresh goose after Goose Break and catch up with him. Sometimes I called just to say hi. On one of my last visits back home, I had spoken with him, I told him I’d go see him the next time I was in town. He replied that he would not be around the next time I came back. Of course I replied that he should not talk that way. We continued talking… As we finished, I told him that if it was true that I would not get to see him, I said that I wanted to express my thanks to him for all the gifts. I told him how much I appreciated all that he has done for me. He just laughed as he always did. I got to say thank you but not good bye.
To the family and friends of Joseph, I send my prayers and condolences.