THE FLUTE PLAYER
There are those who live their lives in the spotlight. Their most mundane actions are reported and commented on.
There are those that live their lives in humble obscurity. They change lives and leave the world in a little better condition.
Such was the life of Johnson Charles, Uncle John, Uncle Johnson, my cousin Junior.
He lived the history of Indian People. He fought and overcame alcoholism and homelessness.
He came home with a beautiful wife and flutes…..those beautiful flutes. He played our old prayer songs on them. They helped soothe and heal our broken hearts.
He didn’t preach. He told stories. Sometimes those stories were on him. He told of waking from a blackout in a Midwestern cemetery. He didn’t know how or why he was there. He would smile and say “Don’t do that.”
He was the Shaker hired to work at Tsewhitzen. He loved helping the young people. He would counsel them and pray for them. Soon everyone was calling him Uncle Johnson.
His sister had been our Shaker minister. She had Multiple Sclerosis and could no longer walk. She knew she was dying. She told us that she didn’t want a flowery send off. She wanted her obituary to say, “She died.”
I assume he would say the same. I just wanted to express how much we loved him and will miss him and those flutes……..those beautiful flutes.