I hit 3000 days with Hubski recently. I know I'm not a wildly active user, but I've been around on and off since sometime in 2015 and I've always enjoyed popping into this quiet corner, to see what's cookin'.
I thought I'd ring in the 3k mark with a memory my grandfather told me about, roughly two weeks before he suddenly passed in 2019. I loved hearing it, and I think even without the connection to his passing, it would have stuck with me anyway.
Grandad completed his Masters in musical composition, and like any good kiwi lad, immediately fucked off on an OE. Back in the 50s, the options were Australia, or Australia. So he and four friends hopped on a ship headed for Sydney. The crossing of the Tasman was fairly uneventful, some minor sea sickness amongst the group; but throughout, grandad found himself visting the massive passenger lounge each night, to listen to the pianist. Time flew, and soon they had berthed in Sydney. Sydney was the original destination, but during the crossing they had heard so much about another city that they began to change their minds. During the trip over, the lads had concocted a plan. A bet, if you will. They would split up at Sydney, and the first to make it to Melbourne, would be declared the winner. Those who arrived should check at the post office for messages left, and if they happened to be first, well they would soon know.
Two of the four opted to hitchhike, while another two had hit it off with some girls on the ship, and had an offer to take a bus tour with them. They were headed down to Melbourne via the highway that runs down by the ocean. Grandad could have gone with either group, but declined with a cheeky smile, and said he'd make his own way. The groups parted and he was alone. At this point I'd asked him "Weren't you worried about being by yourself?" and he said "Honestly, not really. Safety wasn't something I considered at all. Perhaps I should have been, but at the time I was giddy for the adventure."
He explained that while the group were debating about how best to get to Melbourne, he spotted the cruise ship pianist disembarking with his luggage. At this point his plan solidified and once he was alone, he strode right back to the ship to speak to the captain, or whatever highest ranking person he could. Somehow he made it through to a person of some authority and enquired about the next leg of this cruise ship. "Why to Melbourne, in Victoria".
He then offered to be their pianist for that leg of the trip, if he could have board and meals during. Wouldn't need any pay. They took him up on his offer, and his single bag of luggage was brought back on.
He spent the next days and nights performing for the passengers, some taken on at Sydney, while others recognised him from the Tasman crossing. The ship arrives in Melbourne, and he disembarks. He eventually makes his way to the post office in the centre of the city and, seeing no messages from his friends, penned his own. He set up camp at a local backpackers, and began to plan his exploration of the city. It was only two days later than the others arrived, within hours of each other. They found my grandad in the early afternoon, in the backpackers bar. He had his gangly 6ft 5 frame spread out over two chairs with a lukewarm beer dangling from his fingers.
"Here now, how'd you get to Melbourne?" they asked.
He winked and told them increasingly farfetched stories until they gave up asking ("Your bus tour? I was driving it." "I rode a colony of Hunstmen spiders down the Ocean Road." "I walked briskly for a day or two."), and settled for enjoying beers as a unit once more. Apparently he let them in on the story, but only after a decade or two had passed. Enough time to embellish.
I don't know how much of the story is accurate. But it's a nifty wee tale all the same. His daughters (my mother and aunts) have heard the story and his friends confirmed at the very least that somehow grandad beat them all to Melbourne despite being on his own, and they'd never been entirely sure which of the stories was the real one.
Grandad always said his life really began once he retired. He poured himself into his community -- earning a Queen's Service Medal, a NZ Citizen's Award, and others relating to music, education or community service. Honestly if my life can have a quarter of what he accompished after retiring, I'd be happy. Now, as I type this, a piano sits to my right in our study. If I lift up the piano lid, I can look to the left and see a name. Carved with the kind of jagged precision only a 7 year old child could manage. Grandad's name. He learned to play on this piano, and when he passed he left it to me.
I just wanted to share. Despite my sporadic use of the site, I have a fondness for you all, and I hope good things come your way.