An amazing reunion after 62 years

Finally I got to meet Tiny…after 62 years

This is the final instalment in a story that has been going on since early 1961

I’ve written two posts about this story, but in case you’ve not seen them, here’s a quick recap or you can click on the links below to catchup – it’s OK I’ll wait for you.

A very brief mention of the accident in the opening paragraph of this post led to a reunion after 62 years
A good news story – sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction

The story to date

Back in 2018 I wrote a post about my ability to Survive and my opening words included this brief outline of a true story about a car accident that happened in 1961 :

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.

Honestly they were the only words I wrote about this accident and in 2019 I received the following comment from Lea (Tiny’s daughter):

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 still remember getting this notification and even now I can feel the goosebumps and prickles of excitement. I immediately sent a message to my mother telling her about it. Remember this accident happened in early 1961, and we’d not had any major contact in all that time!

I sent Lea an email, trying not to let on how surprised we were to hear from her, but very interested in how she managed to track us down. We started corresponding and decided that we should try to meet up as Tiny was 91 at the time.

Since the accident in 1961 and Tiny and his lovely wife Marje being my Godparents in June 1961, we’ve not had any contact with them, although they’ve been in our thoughts every time we talk about the story.

Debbie after the accident
Debbie in Yass after the accident in May 1961

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. She’d started looking for mum and dad’s names, found a post my sister had written about mum and dad’s wedding anniversary, recognised mum from her wedding photo in the post, saw a comment from a ‘Debbie’ wondered if I could be a relative, clicked on my name which took her to my blog where she found the post mentioned above and realised I was the actual ‘Debbie Anne’ who’d stayed in her house when she was about 4 years old and named her baby doll after. Easy peasy!!

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.

Debbie May 1961
Debbie May 1961

The story of the accident

I have grown up hearing the story of this accident, which was actually two accidents, within 10 minutes of each other.

Dad was away at sea (he was in the Navy) when I was born and only knew of my birth from a message sent to the ship, (no mobile phones back then). He managed to respond to mum’s message with the suggestion of my name Deborah, as he’d just seen Debbie Reynolds in the movie Tammy and was quite taken with both the name and my namesake!

After the accident May 1961
After the accident May 1961

Mum was living in Sydney and dad’s ship was stopping briefly in Melbourne before going onto Adelaide, so mum decided she’d drive on her own from Sydney to Melbourne to see dad so he could finally meet me, his 4 month old firstborn.

What could go wrong??

She had an accident, the details of which are still sketchy but suffice to say she was lucky that Tiny came driving by after her accident and managed to move her off the road. 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 and covered in milk powder!

He flagged down a passing milkman and sat mum and I in the front seat while he set about moving mum’s car, but at that moment 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.

We were released to Tiny and his wife’s care and stayed with their family 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!

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 in June 1961.

Given this all happened in the early 1960s, and phone contact was difficult plus mum and dad moved around a bit with the Navy, 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.

Mum and I planned to meet up with Lea and Tiny but with bushfires, Covid and lockdowns and Tiny’s advancing age it became impossible to organise. Three years later, after we’d sent through photos of us and our families, we finally got our reunion.

We’d kept in touch with Lea during this time and it was quite easy in the end to pick a day, Saturday 4 February 2023, and we met in Goulburn’s Paragon Cafe. I left home early in the morning, picked mum up and drove the 3 hours to Goulburn meeting Lea and Tiny for lunch. We talked for hours! Tiny’s face when he first saw me was priceless and my eyes leaked tears that I was finally meeting this hero. The last time he’d seen me I was all wrapped up and just a babe in arms. Now I’m a 62 year old woman, mother of 3 daughters and grandmother of 4! I asked him if I’d changed much and he just laughed at me 🙂

Debbie with Tiny and mum
Debbie with Tiny and mum

Tiny is approaching 95 and is still a big man. He’s in good health, a bit hard of hearing being his main obvious ailment. I had to ask mum what his real name was before we met up as I’d only ever heard of him mentioned as Tiny. His real name is Walter and he’d been a PMG/Telecom employee based in Yass in NSW. He was a tall man and you could still tell why he was given the name of Tiny (it’s an Aussie thing).

We talked of many things during our few hours together and Tiny thanked mum for bringing me to meet him again. He thought I was a ‘delight’ which is funny because that’s what I think of him! We shared many stories and listened to mum and Tiny reminisce of the days/weeks after the accident. Lea is a beautiful soul and cares for her father with a deep love that is plain for everyone to see. It was an amazing afternoon of reconnecting and I’m so happy it finally happened.

After we got back to mum’s on Saturday afternoon, we looked for old photos and found the ones of me included in this post, taken at Yass at Tiny’s place in May 1961. I don’t look too perturbed at the events – and seriously how cute was I?

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. Now that I’ve met Tiny and Lea in person I can see their generous spirit, their kindness and their love of helping others in need. We weren’t the only ones they helped over the years but we were the most memorable!

As to Lea’s doll called ‘Debbie Anne’ after yours truly, she is still hiding somewhere safe and will come out when she’s ready, according to Lea!

I’m so glad this story has come full circle and think it’s an amazing tale for my Amazing Wednesday posts.

I’d love to hear your thoughts too.

Deb xx

I’m joining Denyse for her Wednesday’s Words and Pics – another fun linkup.

Denyse's Wednesday word and pics contributor
Wednesday Word and Pics contributor

You can also find Deb’s World in lots of other places – stay in touch by clicking any of the buttons below.

Debbie in rock chick mode

Everyone has a story to tell! Deb is a young-at-heart & active 60+ blogger/retiree, after being made redundant from her 22-year career managing education programs in a men’s correctional centre (jail). She now spends her time reading, blogging, riding her ebike and travelling. Deb was awarded a Bravery Award from the Queen when she was 17 after a tragic accident – a definite life changing moment! She is married with 3 grown-up daughters & has 4 grandchildren. She never imagined being Granny Debs would bring so much joy to her life! You can read more of Deb’s story here

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55 Replies to “An amazing reunion after 62 years”

  1. What a beautiful story Deb and how wonderful to reconnect with Tiny after all these years. The internet can be used positively can’t it? I can’t imagine how your Mum felt at the time and of course back in those days seat belts and car seats for babies and children weren’t heard of. It’s amazing we all survived. Tiny and his wife are very special people and I loved that Lea suggested the meeting was a suggestion ‘from her Mum and your Dad’ must have bumped into each other in heaven. You’ve had some amazing times in your life Deb. Not always good but as someone who believes in fate you were meant to survive both accidents so you could bring joy to all who know you. xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Many thanks Sue, the internet gets a bad rap but often it can be used for good as in this case! It has been such a great story all my life, so to have it finally come full circle was almost a miracle. xx


  2. Hi Deb – what a wonderful opportunity to end this story well. So lovely for you and your mum to be able to spend time with Tiny and Lea and to still have such a warm connection after all these years. Life certainly throws us some curveballs, but this one was a winner in the end.

    Liked by 1 person

        1. That’s great to hear Ali, the emotions were running high let me tell you!! I’m so glad I finally got to meet Tiny again after all this time. It is a powerful story in my eyes!


    1. Yes Janis, Tiny sure was my angel on Earth. It was such a lovely feeling to meet him and know that he’d helped us all those years ago and never forgot us. I am forever grateful to him and his wife.


    1. Thanks very much Sammie, I’m happy for my story to be told elsewhere but would settle for a paper or an interview, not sure I’m ready for the big screen just yet!


  3. Great that you were finally able to meetup and that your mom was reintroduced to Tiny. I’m sure you and Leea will stay in contact and hopefully your namesake doll (who I guess is indirectly named for Debbie Reynolds…) will get over her bout of shyness and let you see her some day. lol.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Trent, it’s been a real adventure and I’m so pleased to have finally met Tiny. Mum was very happy to have the opportunity to thank him again for all his help and it was great to meet Lea. Hopefully Debbie Anne (the doll) gets out of her hiding place one day soon 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes Suzanne, that’s a real Australian thing! Someone with red hair is called ‘Blue’, a tall bloke is called ‘Tiny’…thanks for reading and leaving me a comment.


  4. Hi, Debbie – This is such a beautiful and heartwarming story. It so clearly shows the incredible power of kindness and connection. Tiny sounds and looks like a wonderful man. I am delighted to read that you are your mom were able to meet with him after all of these years!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Many thanks Donna, it’s been such a family story for years that I wondered if I’d ever get to finish it with a happy ending, thankfully it all worked out. Tiny is a sweet, humble man and was thrilled to meet me again after all the years in between!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Debbie, that is a brilliant story. Reading one of your memories made water sneak out of my eyes and roll down my smiling cheeks. I am still around reading all your posts with enormous glee and wish you and all your family the best. Ingrid. xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Ingrid, lovely to read your comment on my (true) story! The tears are real let me tell you :). I’m so glad you still enjoy my posts and wish you and your family well too. Looks like you’re having a blast with your family nearby.


  6. Serendipitous. In those days it was easy to lose touch and now it’s easy to find people. So glad you had a reunion and that both Tiny and your mom were able to enjoy it. And yes I want to met the shy doll!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Wow Debbie! What an incredible story, and how fabulous you all got to see each other again after so much time. Typical Aussies to call a tall man ‘tiny’! And seriously, you were a very cute little baby!! xo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Min, it really has been a great way to end the story. Tiny and Lea were amazing and mum really enjoyed reconnecting with them as she has such find memories of her time with their family. Thanks I really was cute 🙂 x


    1. Thanks Sarah, it really was a huge deal to us to finally meet Tiny and Lea again. It does show the positive powers of the internet and the connections we make along the way are importnat for many reasons.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. What a story, and how good IS blogging..and the internet. I loved reading every “tiny” detail too. How good it must have felt to be with your Mum, Tiny and Lea in person. A marvellous reunion indeed. It was so good seeing your blog post shared via the Wednesday’s Words and Pics link up. Thank you for being part of the community here and I hope to see you next week too. Denyse.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Denyse, blogging has been a great way of meeting people and I admire Lea’s determination to find us, using her internet sleuthing skills. I’m thrilled to hear you enjoyed my post and thanks for your linkup 🙂


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