She was a little girl who had in her early life, lived in my house. She was an extraordinary artist and a believer in God. She loved her granny and she loved her neighbor.
She didn’t live in my time when a person’s entire life could be found on a computer. She lived in a time when you simply walked into the Social Security Office with no identification and were issued a card. A time when, if you got married, you were expected to take your husband’s name without protest and subsequently, completely lost your identity.
She lived in a time when children could be beaten, berated and belittled by their parents and everybody kept their mouths shut. She was a lost, lonely little girl who had finally been able to escape a life of torturous abuse from a drunken father, who wanted his progeny to be a male and told her that her name was worthless.
That was all I knew about Katy Engel.
I had made a promise to myself and an unspoken promise to Miss Mabel that I would find this little girl who would now most likely be an old woman. The first step was going to the Office Of Vital Statistics. On page 38, was the registration of a live birth.
Katherine NMN Engel, born to Alice Strathmore Engel, age 23 and Clyde Munson Engel, age 27, on 17th day of August in the year of our Lord, 1950.
I now knew when she was born and how old she was when she wrote each note and drew or painted each picture. The first note I found was dated 1956, which meant that she was just six years old. The last picture, the disturbing one, looked to have been dated 1968. I never found anything dated after then, so it was my belief that she was 18 years old when she left.
I searched marriage and divorce records, looking for any evidence that Katy had started a new life with a new name. I found nothing but those records were confined to the area. The internet would prove to be helpful, or so I thought.
It is possible, although highly unlikely that a person can completely disappear in this day and age. Everything is connected to your Social Security number and records are open to the public in most cases. After spending hours upon hours in front of the computer, I suddenly got a chill when it occurred to me that I hadn’t checked death records.
I didn’t want to know that Katy had died before she ever had the chance to really live. I wanted her to have found happiness. I wanted her to have found peace and understanding. Above all, I wanted her to have healed and known the warmth of the touch from a loving, caring person.
I breathed a sigh of relief after another trip to the Office Of Vital Statistics rendered nothing as far as a death certificate. I checked newspaper records for her name and found no mention of Katy.
What I did find was a 1997 article about the death of a local man, named Clyde Engel. According to the report, he suffered a broken neck due to a fall down the stairs. There was no mention of his condition as far as being intoxicated and it was considered to be nothing more than a tragic accident.
I knew it was impossible but I admit that I was almost secretly wishing Katy had gotten revenge for the years of his horrific, cowardly abuse and decided to push him. I could see her standing at the top of the stairs, looking at his lifeless body, asking “who’s worthless now?”
After weeks and weeks of scouring records online, I couldn’t find one shred of evidence that Katy had ever even existed. I did however, discover that Engel was a German name. Translated, it means “angel.” If ever there had been an angel on Earth, I believe it must have been Katy. After years of praying, and even after the ultimate surrender of her faith when she wrote that she hated Him, she still prayed.
Maybe she had changed her name. Maybe she had left the state. Maybe she had left the country. There were a lot of unanswered maybes and although I wasn’t wealthy by any means, I decided to enlist the services of a private investigator.
To be continued_______________