Families are complicated. Fred, my paternal grandfather, passed recently. At the end, I was the only family who would visit him, and consequently, organised his funeral. This opened a pandoras box of questions, of which many answers are now buried in a rosewood box. 

Fred was born in Hyderabad, India in 1931. His father occupation, a Customs Officer and avid sportsman, meant that he and his siblings grew up in fairly affluent circumstances. He lived in the ancient Mahim Fort as a child (I’m assuming before it was a ruin), attended the prestigious St Peter’s School, Panchgani (which Freddy Mercury attended before he was Freddy Mercury), and moved to the Colaba Causeway as a Captain with the Mogul Lines.

After years of ferrying pilgrims to Jeddah, he became a Marine Pilot before deciding to migrate to Australia. The decision was made to advance the prospects of his children. Upon arriving in Australia, amongst other things, Fred proudly captained the King Islander, running supplies to the small island in Bass Straight. 

Sadly, after the passing of his beloved Zara almost fifteen years ago, he grew estranged from his children as I grew estranged from my father.  When I saw his house listed for sale about eight years ago, I assumed he had passed away. It wasn’t until many years later, I discovered he was in a nursing home. After mustering the courage, I visited him. Dementia had kicked in, and what I found was a frail old man who loved music and still had a sense of humour.

I visited him as often as I could where he would piece together fleeting glimpses of his past. Connecting the dots, he would tell me the names of the docks he had worked on. The names of ships. He would vaguely recall the street names of Melbourne… or was that Bombay? The racecourses, where he would have a punt. His sporting prowess. How he would bootleg liquor through the docks to smuggle to the dances in prohibition era Bombay… 

I feel I was really blessed with the opportunity to have known him again. Vale Frederick Herbert Lynn. 

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