He was a sailor in his younger days. He sailed the world and he loved it. He was my mother's older brother. During the second world war when the Japanese invaded Singapore, uncle sought refuge in Australia when his ship stopped over there.
Later on he was granted refugee asylum and he stayed put in Sydney, Australia.
Grandma used to tell us about her 2 sons, one lived in Liverpool and the older one in Australia. The one in Liverpool did the same thing like his brother. He took refuge in Liverpool, England when his ship docked over there during the war. Years after the war, he used to visit us whenever his ship ( he worked on the ship ) stopped at Singapore.
Grandma and mon had no contact with the uncle in Australia. Somehow, they knew he lived in Australia but they did not have the means to search for him.
In those days there was no internet, no email, no WhatsApp, no Facebook and all the social media . The only way to contact someone in another country was either by long distance phone call or by letter.
When I joined the airlines, my family was very happy because they knew someday I will stop at Sydney and look for my lost uncle. True to their expectation, I had the opportunity to stop at Sydney for a few nights in the early 1970s. I was a steward with MSA back then.
One of the first things I did when I was in Sydney was to visit Chinatown. From there I knew I could look for my uncle. After some detective work, I met an elderly man who was some sort of a headman of the Chinese community in Chinatown. He was willing to help me locate my uncle. I gave him all the details he required.
On the next trip to Sydney this kind man gave me the address of my uncle. He did not have my uncle's phone number.
I looked up the directory and took a train to my uncle's house. It was about an hour ride to his place.He lived in a suburb in a reasonably beautiful house.
From the train station, I caught a cab and it took me to my uncle's place.
What a surprise it was for us all. My uncle and I had never met before. It was a joyous occasion.
Uncle introduced me to his wife, a plump Australian woman. She was as happy as us. They were childless although married for many years. They owned a small Chinese restaurant nearby. I was invited to the restaurant for a meal that day. My uncle was the chief cook and he prepared me a delicious lunch.
I spent the night in uncle's house. Uncle loved his beers and so was auntie. They brought me around the neighbourhood and introduced me to their friends and neighbours. I was made to feel at home with these people.
When I arrived home, my family was elated to hear the good news. I handed a few hundred Australian dollars to my grandma and mom. The money was a present from uncle. The exchange rate was 3 SGD to 1 AUD at that time ( it's about 1.06 to 1 now). We were in much need of the money and it came in handy. Our perception of life in Australia was the people there were rich and leading good lives. In Singapore, life was a struggle. This was 40 years ago.
So you see being a crew with the airline has its advantages. Let me digress a little bit here. I had lots of opportunities making friends with people from all over the world with diverse cultures and backgrounds. When you are overseas, you could visit them (most would be glad to invite you to their homes)bringing with you some gifts from Singapore or elsewhere for them. They would appreciate what you give them.
Talking about appreciation, we (my crew and I ) once invited a New Zealand friend of ours to the hotel where we were staying in Auckland. Her husband was at work but she brought their 5 year old daughter along. We gave them a buffet lunch treat. They were not well to do people and seldom eat out.
When we met our lady friend and her cute little daughter, we noticed the little girl was extremely thrilled to be in the hotel lobby. She was skipping and dancing as any little girl would do whenever she is happy. We were told that it was her very first time visiting a hotel and was eagerly looking forward to having the first buffet of her life.
The next evening, we bought a big bucket of KFC chicken plus drinks and brought to our friends' home for dinner. The kids were thrilled as they seldom had the chance to eat such food. We could see them enjoying their chicken and the Pepsi.
Another friend of mine in Paris brought me fishing for trouts in a river. He knew I liked fishing and it was a way of pleasing me. These people had been very nice to me. It was really beneficial to work in the airlines as you would have the chance to meet and make friends with lovely people.
Coming back to my uncle story, I visited him and his wife whenever I stopped at Sydney. It was not often that I flew to Sydney and so meeting my uncle became less frequent.
One day,we were informed that auntie had died of a heart attack. She was quite young perhaps around 55 years old. It was a sad time for my uncle who depended on auntie in almost everything.
Uncle spoke very little English. He couldn't write. All the day to day running of the business and household stuff was done by auntie. The loss of auntie had a traumatic effect on uncle.
Not long after aunty's death, uncle passed away leaving behind his 3 big dogs. His house was sold off by a "friend".
Later on, we found out that an Australian woman was the beneficiary of uncle's estate. We took up the matter with the authority in Australia and managed to get a fraction of his estate.
The other uncle who lived in Liverpool was a bachelor. He drank and smoke a lot. He too passed away without us knowing of the circumstances that led to his death.
Grandma was so saddened by the passing away of his sons and not long after, she too passed away. She was in her 90s.