Where do I start?
This is such a weird story I don’t really know where to start.
It’s a true story that has been nearly 60 years in the making.
Let’s start at the very beginning
So, in 2018 I wrote a post about my ability to Survive and my opening words included this true story:
I’m known for surviving – and I’m very thankful for that!
My mother tells stories of me surviving a few times before I’d even started walking –
- there was the dreadful car accident with her when I was a few months old. We were on our way to see my father so he could meet me for the first time – he’d been overseas in the Navy when I was born and didn’t get to see me, his firstborn, until I was 4 months old.
This week I received a comment on that post that blew me away. It was really strange and came right out of the blue. It actually freaked me out a bit, if I’m honest.
Dear Debbie, through some serendipitous internet event I have come across your blog and this post.
It was my dad who came across your mum and you, as a little baby, in the car accident you mention at the beginning of your post. It was a dark, rainy night near Yass. You and your mum went to the hospital and he gathered up all the gear out of the car that had been strewn across the road, took the clothing etc home and my mum washed it all clean. Your mum and you stayed with our family while recovering. I was about 4 years old myself but remember your lovely mum very clearly. My mum brought me a doll after you both left and we called it Debbie Anne, after you. I still have her.
I remember dad saying how blessed you both were to survive that crash, and it seems that despite what life has continued to throw at you the underlying courage necessary to keep going and living is inherent in you.
I remember getting this notification on my way to bed and had to wake my husband up to tell him about it. I also sent a message to my mother telling her about it. Remember this accident happened nearly 60 years ago, and we’ve not had any major contact in all that time!
Mum was seriously spooked! She imagined someone with a doll named after me sticking voodoo pins in it and then trying to get money from us….she has a good imagination 🙂
I sent Lea this email, trying not to let on exactly how spooked we were!
Hi Lea, I was very surprised to see your comments pop up on my blog last night, it was a huge surprise in fact. I just can’t imagine how you found that particular post and then how you knew it was the accident your dad had helped with. Can I ask how you tracked me down??I have been in touch with mum and she remembers you and your brother. She said she had a call from your father a few years ago asking if she remembered him.
Thanks again for making contact and I’d love to hear how you found me as I’m intrigued. The post only had the bare amount of information in it.
The wonders of the internet and family history sleuthing
So how did she find us? Lea used her internet searching skills and experience with family history and sleuthing. When she explained what she did it was very easy to find us. In fact mum is even more spooked now because of just how easy it is to find things out on the internet.
The blog post of my sister’s that Lea refers to, is this one, For richer or poorer from November 2014, when our parents celebrated their 56th wedding anniversary! I had left a comment on that post and Lea wondered if maybe I was her doll’s namesake, Debbie Anne, and I was!
I had also written a post earlier that week congratulating mum and dad as well – Treasure, beauty, love!
Lea’s explanation is lovely to read and I love the quirky suggestion that her mum and my dad bumped into each other in Heaven and decided we needed to reconnect!
Hello Debbie, I know…. What the heck and how did I find you? I have been wondering that ever since last night. The only thing I can think of is that my mum and your dad have bumped into each other in Heaven and have decided that we need to make contact again now that we are both a little bit older than when we last met.
We always seemed to have rescued people in our home – mum used to say we should call our home “Broken Wing”. Every now and again I think of some of the people that mum and dad helped, but you and your mum were special visitors, and you are the only one I ever got a doll for – extra special given that I was a real tomboy and not into dolls at all but Debbie Anne has always been a much loved doll and every time mum and I came across her while reorganizing or whatever, mum would retell the story of you and your mum to me.
So, I guess it was reorganizing and seeing Debbie Anne that made me wonder about you.
Last night your name popped into my head again and so I decided to resolve this once and for all. I used all of my investigation skills honed by reading hundreds of murder mysteries and spy stories, as well as hunting down relatives for family history, to see if I could find you – a bit of a challenge in that I only know your first name.
I googled your mum and dad and up came Sharon’s blog where she talks about your mum and dad and it has their wedding photo. I thought she must be a relative – as soon as I saw the wedding photo I knew it was your mum. I didn’t know you had a sister Sharon, but I kind of figured you were related so I had a little look and found a comment you had made on her post. I clicked on it, wondering if it was you or someone else named Debbie. And, somehow, I almost went straight to the blog you had written about the accident. As soon as I started to read it I knew it was you. I have tried to find that particular blog again today just to see how I came across it and can’t find it now. So…. I can’t help think, apart from being a wonderful serendipitous thing, that I just needed to say hello to you.
Dad is 91 this year, but he still has a very clear recollection of the night he came across you both. He can describe where the car was, and how it had gone into a gully, and all of the things in the car were strewn across the road and covered in baby food (yours I guess )….
I have grown up hearing the story of this accident, which was actually two accidents, within 10 minutes of each other. Tiny came across mum after her accident and managed to move her off the road but when she kept asking ‘where’s my baby’, he responded with ‘there’s no baby love’. Mum was shouting ‘my baby is in the car’ and so he went and looked again and there I was under the seat and the bassinet!
He flagged down a passing milk truck and sat mum and I in the front seat while he set about moving mum’s car, but two trucks came around the bend and one hit the milk truck, smashing the windscreen all over mum and I!!
The police were called and as mum couldn’t remember her numberplate she had to go to hospital in case she had concussion and I was sent to the hospital’s nursery. Mum was not happy to be separated from me.
We were released to Tiny and his wife’s care and stayed with them until dad was given leave from the Navy and caught the train from Melbourne to Yass and finally he got to meet me, his first child!
Tiny remembers asking dad to carry his Navy hat so he could recognise him when he collected him from the train. Mum and dad stayed with Tiny and his family for a few days until we all continued to Melbourne by train.
How lovely was this family to take us in? Mum remembers staying with them for a few weeks later on while waiting for the car to be fixed too. She then asked Tiny and Marge to be my Godparents and they attended my Christening a few months later.
Given this all happened in the early 1960s, and phone contact was difficult plus mum and dad moved around a bit, they all lost contact. I’ve not met them apart from in those early days.
So you can imagine my utter surprise to have this connection with Lea after all that time!
I’m happy to say that Lea and I are now in contact via email, Facebook and wait for it….we spoke on the phone the other night to Lea and her father.
As mum was visiting me last week, I sent Lea a message asking if it would be possible to call them and we had a fabulous chat with everyone on speaker phone. Lea and her 91 year old father Tiny and mum and I, chatting away about days gone by and what’s happened in the intervening years!
Mum and I are planning to meet up with Lea and Tiny in the new year as they are keen to see us. We’ve sent through photos of us and our families. It was a very emotional call in some ways and Tiny couldn’t believe he was speaking to me a middle aged woman as I’d been a tiny baby when he’d last seen me. Lea and I had lots in common and she was a delight to talk to.
Mum always speaks of Tiny as her knight in shining armour and has fond memories of their family for taking us in when we needed it most.
So…do you agree that this is a weird story of connection? Isn’t it lovely to have a happy ending to a story that spans almost 60 years?? I’m still gobsmacked to be honest.
I’m still not too sure about having a doll named after me though….I’d like to think my doll namesake looks like this:
Can you tell a similar story of connection? If so I’d love to hear from you!
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A tragic accident at age 17, resulting in a Bravery Award from the Queen, didn’t deter Debbie from travelling the world. A young retiree, after being made redundant from her 22 year career managing education programs in a men’s correctional centre, she now loves reading, blogging, riding her ebike and a good cup of tea! Also known as Granny Debs to her 4 grandchildren.
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