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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A Christmas Eve Story

A Christmas Eve Story: As I was preparing for my slumber last night, anticipating the arrival of Santa at the homes of all my grandchildren, and fondly recalling all the Christmases of my youth and my children’s youth, a couple of things happened. I experienced some different feelings. First of all, I thought “Oh, it sure is quiet around here on Christmas.” That made me a bit sad. Then, I thought “Oh, but at least I don’t have to stay up late and sneak around with presents. And, I don’t have to get up at the butt crack of dawn.” That made me not quite so sad. So, I finally laid my head on the pillow, and my nose was stuffy, so I reached for my trusty Vicks. In the meantime, my cat, the elusive Ivy May, did something she has NEVER done before. She jumped onto my back and started walking around and then kneading my back with her front paws…you know, the way cats do. As I was attempting to rub my trusty Vicks under my nose…she nailed me right between the shoulder blades, which tickled like nobody’s business…causing me to jerk and whammo….Vicks laden finger poke right in my eyelid. If you have never gotten Vicks on your eyelid, I highly recommend you not try that. If you are attempting to rub Vicks under your nose, make sure you don’t have a cat on your back. Merry Christmas!

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

Dear Mother

As I remember you today

I reflect on tales of the motherland

From folklore of headless dog spirits

To the meaning of the shamrock and the Trinity

A cottage in which 11 children grew

In a land the beauty of which I have never seen

I remember the music, the dancing of the jig

The tales of the leprechaun and his pot of gold

I think of the courage it took to leave your family

To come to a strange land and start anew

The strength it took to have 10 children of your own, yet bury 3

The stern hand with which you raised us

Was also the gentle hand that guided us with love

The firm voice that called our names down the line

Could be soft and comforting at any moment

In our big house filled with love, and lots of children

I think how you truly came to this country with nothing

And really did achieve everything

And you carried yourself with grace and dignity while doing so

All these things and more I remember

As I remember you today

Dear Mother

The Story of Grace and The Maybasket Fairy

It’s Mayday.   From the time I was 6 years old, Mayday has been very special and holds a tradition near and dear to my heart.  I learned about Maybaskets in the 1st grade, and was very excited to bring home my first homemade one.

“Mommy” I asked, “What do I do with this?”  So, mom came up with the idea of leaving it on our neighbor Grace’s front door.  She carefully instructed me to hang it on the doorhandle, knock really loud and run back to her around the corner of our front porch, where we hid.  She said “Run fast, because if she catches you she has to give you a hug and a kiss.”  Well, she did not catch me that year, or the year after that, or even the year after that.

This became a tradition, every year for the past 48 years Grace has gotten a Maybasket.  When I moved away, my sister left them, and when I moved back to the area, I picked up where I had left off.  When I became an adult with children of my own, I taught them the joys of leaving Grace a Maybasket (partly because I couldn’t run as fast anymore and partly because I wanted to share this tradition with them).

When I was about 40 years old, Grace finally figured out who her Maybasket fairy was.  They had torn down our neighborhood to build a Walgreens and Grace had moved into a secure apartment complex.  It was impossible to sneak in, hang it on her door and run, so I started hanging them on her car.  One day it seems, she caught me out the window.  She never really told me she caught me, but would say things like…”The Maybasket fairy came to see me again…I wish I could catch her so she could get a hug and kiss.”  Then she would say “If you see the Maybasket fairy, would you please tell her thank you?”

Her Maybasket was so important to her every year.  After she had to go into assisted living, I tracked her down through family and friends.  Grace should not have to go without her Maybasket.  She said to me once “I can’t believe the Maybasket fairy found me here!  I love my Maybasket fairy!”  I told her the Maybasket fairy would find her no matter what.

I am now 54 and Grace is about 95.  A few years back, she had a stroke and it was thought she would pass.  She got her Maybasket early that year.  She is somewhat like a baby now….unable to feed herself, unable to speak really.  She looks blankly at you when she does look at you.  Last year, she couldn’t wake up long enough to realize I was there.  This year, however, she opened her eyes, unable to speak, the corner of her mouth tried to curl up in a little grin.  She may not realize who I was, but I know she remembers her Maybasket.

My mother

My mother was born  in County Limerick, Ireland.  All her paperwork says she was born the 16th of March, 1934, but she would tell us she was born on St Patrick’s day.  Mother was one of 11 children born to my grandparents.  Tonight I look at some of her paperwork, and wanted to share some bits of history.

She came to this country in November 1955 aboard the Queen Mary, (a trip she would tell us took 2 weeks). Her Declaration of Intention issued by the United States Dept. of Justice Immigration and Naturalization Service was issued in the State of New Jersey, County of Ocean, and dated the 5th of April, 1957.  This is the declaration of intention to become a citizen of the United States.

Mother initially was a nanny in New Jersey when she arrived in this country and eventually, joined the WAC (Women’s Army Corps) and served as an LPN.    While serving, she met a young man on a blind date on the 14th of January, 1958.   In her little pages from what I call her “Harry Diary”…she writes…”I went out on a blind date tonight, was I surprised!  My date turned out to be real nice”….Then on the 5th  of April, 1958 she writes “Wonderful day.  I am so very happy.”  That man turned out to be my dad.    My folks married on the one year anniversary of the signing of her declaration of intention.

Her installation clearance record  is dated the 22nd of July, 1958 and her efficiency rating was excellent.  She received her honorable discharge on the 28th of July, 1958.  Her highest civilian education level was 8 yrs elementary.  You see, back when she was a child in Ireland, the kids got pulled out of school to go to work.  She passed her GED test for High School equivalency in 1957.  Her rank in the WAC was PFC (E-3) (T) and her specialty was 910.00 Med Corpsman.

My mother became a United States citizen on the 25th of June, 1971.  That was a big day at our house.

My parents had 9 children.  I am the oldest, and was born on Mother’s Day, the 10th of May, 1959.

My mother passed away on the 17th of July, 2001, which was my youngest daughter’s 9th birthday.  My granddaughter was born on St Patrick’s day 2006, which would have been my mother’s 72nd birthday, and 7 plus 2 equals 9.  (You do the math.)

Dear Mother

As I remember you today

I reflect on tales of the motherland

From folklore of the headless dog spirits

To the meaning of the shamrock and the Trinity

A cottage in which 11 children grew

In a land the beauty of which I have never seen

I remember the music, the dancing of the jig

The tales of the leprechaun and his pot o gold

I think of the courage it took to leave your family

To come to a strange land and start anew

The strength it took to have 10 children of your own, yet bury 3

The stern hand with which you raised us

Was also the gentle hand that guided us with love

The firm voice that called our names down the line

Could be soft and comforting at any moment

In our big house filled with love and lots of children

I think how you truly came to this country with nothing

And really did achieve everything

And you carried yourself with grace and dignity while doing so

All these things and more I remember

As I remember you today Dear Mother

Written in honor of Josephine Patricia O’Kelly 1934-2001

Taffy OKelly