August 21st, 1996 a young girl named Trudy Appleby went missing from her home in Moline, IL. She was last seen leaving her driveway in a grey/silver car with a male driver in his early 20’s with dark curly hair and a ball cap. She was 11 years old. She has never been seen or heard from since. Trudy Appleby was my neighbor girl. She was like one of my own kids. We lived in a good neighborhood, a safe neighborhood.
Trudy Appleby’s mother never gave up looking for her daughter. She always held out hope that soon we would find her. But, Trudy’s mother was worried that people would forget about her if this drug on a long time. I promised Trudy’s mother that I would do my best to not let folks forget about her if it came to that.
Well, the days turned into weeks, the weeks into months and the months into years and the years into decades. Trudy’s mother died in 2014 in a tragic accident never knowing what happened to her only child.
There have been leads and rumors abound since that fateful day in 1996, when a little girl seemingly disappeared off the face of the earth. Recently, in August of this year, shortly before the 21st anniversary of her disappearance, a suspect was publicly named by the Moline Police Department. The suspect is William “Ed” Smith, now deceased, formerly of East Moline, (Campbell’s Island) A witness came forward to place Trudy with the suspect on the day she disappeared.
In October of this year, a search was made on Campbell’s Island after cadaver dogs detected the scent of human remains. This was after another tip to the police. While no human remains were found, some items were excavated and sent for processing. Nothing has been made public about the findings at this time.
Trudy left her home with someone she knew, and met a terrible fate, never to return home.
Someone out there knows what happened to this little girl, and someone out there still knows where she is. It is highly likely that she is no longer alive, and was buried somewhere by the perpetrators. Someone knows what happened to her and someone knows where she is. Her family, friends and everyone who has so diligently worked on this case for the last 21 years need to know where she can be found so we can lay her to rest.
Someone once commented that they were tired of hearing me talk about Trudy….she stated “This isn’t about YOU.” No, it isn’t….it never has been. It is about an 11 year old girl who never got a chance to be a little girl, or grow into an adult. It is about a mother who died never knowing what happened to her only child. It is about a family and friends who have spent the last 21 years not knowing where she is, not knowing what happened to her. It is about justice for Trudy Appleby. It is about not letting anyone forget about her, and I will not stop talking about her until she is found. Justice for Trudy!
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.
Last night was chalk full of dreams. This one involved my mom, the house I grew up in, and the ghosts that inhabited that house.
I was asleep in my old room at 548, the house I grew up in. We were waiting for the folks to get home from their New Years Eve celebration. I come out to find my mom sitting in her rocking chair next to the big 3 windows in the living room. I took a seat on the couch next to her.
She said “Can you tell? The spirits are not happy with the work that was done.” I said “What do you mean?” She replied “Just wait, you will see.” Suddenly, the vase that was sitting on the little end table between the couch and the rocking chair went toppling to the ground. She said “See? They are upset this time. They won’t hurt you, but they miss the house the way it was. They need somewhere to go.”
Suddenly, off to my left, I catch a glimpse of someone running past me. Dressed in brown, this someone ran through the doorway into what used to be my old room, and what was eventually my parent’s room.
“Mom, did you see that?” Mom said, yes and she was looking for somewhere else to go. “She’s lost” said Mother. “She wants to follow you. She’s just lost.”
I am talking to a man, who looks familiar, but I can’t quite put my finger on who he is. It turns out, he is traveling incognito. Suddenly, on a screen, appears 2 pictures of Arnold Schwarzenegger. One picture of how he looks today, and one of his much younger self, with both poses being from his Terminator nude scene. I look over at the man and say “I thought you looked familiar. That’s you, isn’t it?” He said “Yes, I am one in the same. Although if you will notice, I have a few more wrinkles on my backside now than in 1984.”
He’s in talks for a new movie with Jamie Lee Curtis, reprising their spy roles from True Lies, and he invites me along to the meeting. The meeting is in this big, fancy hotel, the kind of hotel that only rich people can afford to stay in. After meeting with and talking to Jamie, Arnold, the writers and other staff, I am offered a job. It seems Arnold has told everyone that during our discussion, he was able to determine that I had a creative streak in me, and was a bit of a ham. So, I was offered the opportunity to assist with the script and also to act in the movie.
Just as I had accepted the offer, my son and brothers come walking down the hall. “Hey, are you ready to check out of this place yet? We have to leave” They say. So, we go to the front desk to check out, and when we leave, they ask “Where did you park your car?” I said “What do you mean my car? I didn’t drive here. Where’s your car?” So, we commence to the parking lot, which has turned into a giant field of grass. There is but one lonely little car out in the north forty, and evidently it’s mine because they said “Oh, there’s your car! Why the hell did you park all the way out here?”
We then drive to the house us kids grew up in (Which, by the way no longer exists, it was torn down in 2000) where we find our dad getting ready to go sit out front. (Keep in mind, dad died in 2007.) While he is out front, we hear noises outside the front porch. We look outside to find some strangers arguing and trying to get into the house. They ran off when they saw us kids. Suddenly, we think, where the heck is dad? Did they take him? So we frantically look and look, but to no avail.
Suddenly mother shows up with one of the blonde grandkids. (Mother died in 2001.) She said “Where’s your father?” We call his cell phone, and he’s down at the tavern buying candy bars for us. We said “Oh, we thought those strangers took you. You better get home! Mom’s here with one of the grandkids, and boy are you gonna be in trouble!”
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.
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
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.