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’s really time to bring our Trudy home
23 years ago, I rode to the hospital on an ambulance (my very first ambulance ride). You see, I was in labor, and much to everyone’s surprise (but not mine)…I almost had my 3rd child at home on the toilet. (Because the hospital didn’t believe I was in labor earlier). The ambulance left my house at 02:15 on July 17th 1992. I asked the paramedic “You ever delivered a baby before?”…he said “No, but I saw my partner do it once.”….I said “Oh, that’s just feckin’ great.” I hee hee hee hoo’d all the way, not stopping for any red lights. We got to the hospital at 02:25, and I had to direct the paramedic to the mother baby unit (Seems he’d never been there either). They called the dr, who got there just in time to put on his catcher’s mit at 02:43 am to catch a 10 lb baby girl as she swiftly made her arrival. The staff was running around like chickens with their heads cut off (Which I told them they would be doing when they sent me home earlier) I’ll never forget it….and to all the staff who sent me home 23 years ago saying “Oh, you’re not in labor yet”…well, I can only say this…”I feckin told ya so!” I named her Emily, which means industrious one. That is oh so true. She was, and is, a beautifully busy girl. And people do like you when you are 23….
14 years ago, July 17th, 2001…I got a call that every child dreads. “This is your dad, and I have the paramedics here giving your mother CPR”….that call plays over and over in my head. She just dropped dead that day, on my daughter’s 9th birthday. The very next day, I had the family over for a very happy birthday party….that is what my mom would have wanted. The last time I heard my mother’s voice was on my answering machine when I got home after she passed. “Kelly, this is your mother, call me when you get home.” We had been on vacation and she called before we got back. This was before the days of commonplace cell phones. I happened to come home early from vacation…I wanted to be home by 2:30 pm. I walked in the door at 2:15 pm and within 2 minutes came that dreaded phone call from my dad. Don’t let the last time you hear your mother’s voice be on an answering machine, or a voice mail…..If she calls, and you are around answer it….because gosh, you just never know when will be the last time you talk to her.
As moms, when our children are little, there was no boo boo we couldn’t fix. Be it with a kiss, a bandaid, a little washing, an ice cream cone, a quarter, the list goes on and on. There comes a time in a mom’s life when she realizes “Hey, I cannot fix this kid’s boo boos anymore.” When she realizes that…well, it’s not an easy moment. Her child is not a child anymore, but an adult, or very near adulthood. Some of the boo boos she used to fix were skinned knees, loose teeth, a bump on the ole noggin, a fever, the list goes on and on. Now, the boo boos are a bit more complex than that, and there is a point in life when she realizes that no matter what she does, the boo boos of her now grown child can be fixed by nobody else but that child. Her child could be at the point of losing everything. At that point a decision must be made. Does she keeping trying to “fix” it, especially if that means the “fixing” may be enabling? Or does she finally say enough? Making the decision to say enough is so difficult for a mom. So very difficult. Telling her child “I am done….nobody can fix you but you.” is possibly the hardest thing a mom can say. Sitting and waiting to see if the child decides he/she is worth fixing him or herself is not easy either. But she does, and hopes for the best and tells herself that sometimes tough love is what is necessary to get her child to see the light, even though it is killing her inside and she cries because she just wants her child to be ok again. She wants those boo boos fixed.
May 10th, 1959…mother’s day. A beautiful young wife (from Ireland) and her movie star handsome American husband were ready to welcome their first born into the world. At about 5:30 am (or so the story goes), this beautiful young wife became a mother for the first time to a bouncing 9 lb baby girl. The story is also told that this baby girl was born already lifting up her head because she was about a month overdue. The doctor said, “Well, Josephine, say hello to your month old newborn.” They named her Kelly (after her grandmother O’Kelly in Ireland). The rest is history. This year, her birthday falls on Mother’s Day yet again, and I have to say it makes her a little sad.
When I was 6, I started a tradition of leaving a Maybasket every May Day on our neighbor Grace’s front door. When I was away, my mom made sure she got one. When I had kids, I taught them my tradition. Every year, without fail…Grace got a Maybasket, even when she was in the nursing home and couldn’t recognize me. This was my 2nd May Day without Grace…..and I have to say, I am feeling a bit lost. Happy May Day up in Heaven Grace.
Wednesday, they laid someone to rest. Her name is Brenda. I knew her as Brenda, but I also knew her as Trudy’s mom. The rest of the people here know of her as the mother of Trudy Appleby, the Moline girl who went missing 18 years ago. Brenda was a very softspoken, sweet person and Trudy was her only child. She spent the last 18 years of her life looking for her daughter…never knowing where she was, or what happened to her, but never completely giving up the hope that Trudy is out there somewhere still, and that we would one day find her. Brenda met with a tragic fate, and left this Earth very unexpectedly, as she was hit by someone driving under the influence. She passed never knowing the truth about what happened to her daughter, and her family is now dealing with another unexpected, sudden loss. I know, that out there somewhere is someone who knows the truth about what happened to our little Trudy 18 years ago. That someone has chosen not to come forward as of yet, and in turn caused 18 years of the pain of not knowing. Now a mother has passed, never to have found her answer to her question of where her daughter is. What will it take for that someone to come forward? I don’t know how that someone sleeps at night, and quite frankly, now…I hope they don’t.