Mother’s Day 2017

My mom. I miss her. She was many things: Irish mother of the year, beautician, wife, nana, den mother, girl scout leader, a nurse in the army, and the list goes on and on. But, above all that, she was my mother.

We didn’t always see eye to eye, and there were times when I did not always agree with her. However, she was my mother, and she raised us all as best she could. She worked hard raising 8 children in that house with only 4 bedrooms and 1 bathroom. (Looking back, that house seemed so huge when we were little.)

She worked hard at home, and when needed, she worked hard outside of the home. We didn’t always have what we wanted, but we always had what we needed. Did I agree with every decision she ever made, or every punishment she put forward? No. Did I agree with every “harsh” word when she would tell us like it is? No. Did I dare question any of it? No. Did I disrespect her in any way? No. Did I try to “punish” her just for revenge, or make her feel guilty for anything? No. Why? Because she was my mother…..not my buddy, not my pal. And everything she did, everything she fought for, was for the good of us kids. She wanted us to be the best adults we knew how to be. Being a mother does not come with an instruction manual. The last thing my mother and I did together was plan the Roland family reunion in 2001. A few weeks later, she was dead. Love your mother and respect her…..because some day, you may not have her around.

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Conversation at the Opthalmologist

Conversation at the eye doctors with 2 random strangers (older women sitting across from me) went something like this: 1st older woman yawns while having a conversation with her friend. I then yawn. 1st older woman says “It’s catching….sorry I should not have yawned.” I said “Yes, it’s contagious, but I’m getting older, so I yawn a lot more now.” 2nd older woman says “Oh, you have a long way til you are old.” I say “Well, in my head, I’m still 30, but my body is starting to tell me otherwise.” 2nd older woman says “Oh, 30….that was 60 years ago for me.” Well, I wasn’t sure I heard her right….because that would make this woman 90 years old. She certainly did not look 90, and even though she used a walker, she was gettin’ around pretty darned good. So, I flat out responded, sounding rather shocked, “60 years ago? No way! No way!” 1st older woman giggled and said “Yes way…she’s 90.” I replied “You’re pulling my leg.” 2nd older woman said “No, I’m 90.” I just plain said “Well, you look great! And honestly, I would have guessed you at 75.” Needless to say, she was thrilled, and proceeded to talk to me about how she stays so young. She worked til she was 80, and she works out with her theraband exercise bands every day doing bicep curls, etc. She hates sitting around…We agreed that it’s best to move around, and that being bored is just not tolerated. Gosh, she was great. I told her…”I hope I live to be 90.” I love conversations like that with random strangers, because suddenly, they aren’t strangers anymore.

Trudy Appleby: Little Girl Gone: 20 years

We are quickly approaching the 20 year anniversary of the disappearance of Trudy Appleby.  Trudy Appleby went missing from her home in Moline, IL on August 21st 1996.  She was last seen that morning leaving her driveway in a grey/silver car.  The driver appeared to be a male, in his 20’s with dark, curly hair and a baseball cap.  This was in the area of 41st St and 21st Ave in Moline, IL.  She has never been seen or heard from since.  Those are the facts in a nutshell.  Now, it’s about to get a bit more personal.

Trudy Appleby is not just a name or a statistic.  Trudy Appleby was a real little girl, who at the time of her disappearance was 11 years old, and just 2 weeks shy of turning 12.

Trudy had a family, and lots of friends.  She was my neighbor, and spent a lot of time at my house.  I first met Trudy sometime after we moved into this neighborhood.  She was outside in my yard one day, and I opened the door and she said “Hi, my name’s Trudy…you got any kids?”.  The rest was history.   She became fast friends with my oldest daughter, and was over to the house quite often.  Trudy was a little spitfire of a girl.  She was outgoing, friendly, loving, and very bright.

I last saw Trudy on August 20th, 1996, when she was over at the house.  It was a usual Trudy visit, complete with rollerblading out front, eating hot dogs, talking about the upcoming school year and vacations.  My daughter walked her home about 8 pm as usual.  Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that would be the last time we were to see Trudy Appleby.  But, the next morning, everything changed.

I got a call at work, and life as we knew it in this quiet, safe little neighborhood had changed forever.  We had a missing child.  Trudy was gone.  Hours turned into days, days into weeks, weeks into months, months into years, and years into decades.  We passed out hundreds and hundreds of flyers, we searched everywhere, kept our eyes and ears open, hoping for any bit of news, or a phone call, or to see her skipping down the road.  We watched our children much more closely, afraid to even let them play out in the yard by themselves.

I have played the evening of August 20th, 1996 in my head over and over during the past 20 years, trying to recall anything out of the ordinary.   For instance, was there a strange vehicle in the neighborhood?  Did Trudy say anything about seeing a stranger?  But, there was nothing out of the ordinary about that evening.

What happened to Trudy?  We do not know.  Her family doesn’t know, her friends don’t know, and this neighborhood does not know.  Someone knows, though.  That someone needs to come forward and make that call.  Make an anonymous call if necessary.  Tell the authorities what happened to Trudy Appleby.  20 years of not knowing is awful.  It’s worse than awful.  It’s time to bring Trudy home, don’t you think?

Don’t think it can’t happen to someone you know.  Don’t think it can’t happen in your neighborhood.  It happened in mine. trudy flyer

The Words “I Love You”

The spoken words “I love you” are merely just 3 spoken words.  Love is more than 3 words.  Love is a feeling that you should give to others, and that you should receive also.

Without that feeling, they are just 3 words.  If someone says “I love you” but you just don’t feel it….and you have to ask yourself “Do they really?”…well, they are just words.

Don’t just tell people “I love you.”  Make them feel it…show them.  If they have to question your love for them, perhaps you are just telling them those 3 empty words.

In my family, the words “I love you” were rarely spoken…but that love was never, ever questioned.  Because we FELT it.  We knew.  Love is more than 3 words.

Yesterday I received a gift from my brother.  It was a beautiful portrait that he drew of me.  He left it on my doorstep.  I have not seen or talked to my brother in some time.  But, this was an act of love.  Despite the fact that I had not seen him in quite some time, I have never questioned the love.  But, this was just a bit of reinforcement that he still loves his family.

So, think before you use those words “I love you” ….are you speaking empty words?  Are you trying to convince them, or yourself?  Without the feeling they are just 3 empty words.  my portrait 005

Skippy the Peanut Butter Dog

A long time ago….almost 13 years, at least 12, my sister went on a mission for me. I found a puppy on Petfinder down near Keokuk, IA. He was half bassett hound/half cocker spaniel. My sis went to check him out while she was down visiting family. This poor puppy was being fostered out (with the best of intentions by the adoption agency) in a house that unbeknownst to that agency was just littered in filth and squallor. Well, needless to say, my sis took him right out of that for me and brought him here. He was the funniest looking, yet cutest pup I ever laid eyes on. He had long hair, short legs and very very long ears. My youngest named him. Actually she named him about 8 times in about 10 minutes before settling on Skippy. You see, he was the color of peanut butter. We saved him that day.
Poor little Skippy missed his litter mates, and did not like being by himself at night. Skippy would cry at night, so I would spend every night for a couple months rocking him to sleep and singing “Molly Malone”, just like I did with my kids.
We had another dog at the time, and her name was Allie. She was older, and she took Skippy under her wing and they became buddies. Not long after that we had to put our Allie girl to sleep because she couldn’t walk anymore. Skippy saved us that day.
Skippy got attacked by another dog once. The neighbor jumped the fence to rescue him. He saved Skippy that day.
Skippy was long on ears and short on legs. His ears were so long, they would get in his water and food bowl. My youngest would put his ears up in her pony tail holders. He didn’t seem to mind.
He was unlike any other dog I have ever had…He never had accidents in the house as a puppy, and he was housebroken in 2 weeks. He didn’t beg (much), rarely barked, never growled and never howled that bassett hound howl (unless he wanted something or was calling for Emily). He could speak, he could shake, but he couldn’t sit pretty. (His legs were too short.) He minded, he listened, he walked well on a leash. He hated car rides….oh how he hated car rides. He would pant and whimper and shake. Never have I had a dog that hated the car so much. He loved all little kids, and would let them do anything to him. There was not a mean bone in his short legged body. But most of all, Skippy was perfectly happy just being a dog.
Skippy was getting old, and started getting old man problems. He had fatty tumors and skin tags, skin allergies, and he was getting heavy. Each time I would take him to the vet, I would ask…”Doc, is he still doing ok?” Doc would tell me…”He’s doing fine, he’s just getting old and has old man problems.”
Well, those old man problems finally took their toll on Skippy. His heart suddenly started failing and his abdomen filled with fluid. This time I couldn’t save Skippy. I made the best choice I could make….I know in my head it was the right thing. But, I’m having trouble convincing my heart of that….because it is breaking. And suddenly I feel like I’m 12 years old. I will miss Skippy the Peanut Butter Dog, and I will miss him terribly.flowers and skippy 003

After 19 years, Trudy Appleby is still missing.

Very soon will be the 19 year anniversary of the disappearance of Trudy Appleby. Trudy was my neighbor girl. She disappeared on the morning of August 21st, 1996, last seen in a grey/silver car resembling a Chevy Celebrity. The driver was a young white male in his 20’s with long brown curly hair, wearing a ball cap. The area was near 41st St and 21st Ave Moline, IL. It will be 19 years with no answers, no idea of what happened to her.

We all know little girls just do not disappear “poof” off the face of the earth. She went somewhere with somebody. She was 11 years old at the time of her disappearance, and she would be 30 years old today.

This girl was filled with so much spunk, and so much love for others. The first time I met her, she was outside playing in my yard. She asked me “Do you have any kids?” and the rest is history. She became fast friends with my oldest daughter, my youngest daughter adored her, and she and my son got on like a brother and sister, constantly teasing each other. I don’t remember what day I met her, but I remember what day she disappeared. Every day for years, I have watched down the road hoping to see her walking to my house again. My oldest would go sit by her mailbox waiting to see if she showed up at home. If I saw Trudy today I’d give her a big old hug and not want to let go.

Somewhere out there, somebody knows or remembers exactly what happened to our girl Trudy. I don’t know how that someone sleeps at night, and part of me hopes that someone doesn’t. That someone really should find it in their hearts to come forward. After all, 19 years of not knowing what happened to a loved one is just incomprehensible.

I have written a letter to the editor pretty much each year for 19 years trying to keep her memory fresh in people’s minds. Let’s not make it 20 years. If you know something, please alert the authorities. It’strudy appleby really time to bring our Trudy home