Finding Katy – Chapter Three

I woke up and my heart was pounding.  I ran to the door and opened it, hoping to see Katy standing in front of my house.  My shoulders slumped when I realized that it was only a dream…but it was so realistic.

I remembered exactly what she looked like.  I remembered her eyes.  They weren’t happy by any means but they weren’t sad or full of fear.  They just looked sort of hollow and lifeless.  I will admit…that dream shook me up.

I went back inside and picked up her bear.  I didn’t even know what she had called it.  I didn’t ask Miss Mabel and for all I knew, she had never named it. For some reason it felt wrong for me to give it a name, other than “Katy’s bear.”  I found myself talking to it as if it was a surrogate for her.  I looked at it and said “Katy, are you trying to tell me something?”

I decided to tell Miss Mabel about my dream.  I went to visit her grave every month and talked to her and told her what I was doing and how my life was going.  Even though I didn’t believe in the supernatural in any capacity, I asked Miss Mabel to give me a sign if she could hear me talking to her.  I asked her to give me a sign if, God forbid, Katy was with her.

I don’t know if people like me, who ask for answers from a source they don’t believe in, ever get them.  I guess I just hoped for something that would make me become a believer.

Just as I expected, the sky didn’t darken.  The ground didn’t quake.  There was no thunder or lightning.  I didn’t see any ghostly apparitions nor I didn’t hear any disembodied voices.

I said goodbye to Miss Mabel and told her that I would see her again soon.  I asked for her forgiveness because I had broken the promise I made when I told her I would find Katy.

I felt like that promise had given me a purpose.  To say that I had failed miserably would be generous.

I think when you have a purpose, you don’t feel so alone.

 

To be continued______________

 

Finding Katy – Chapter Two

I hired Mr. Brent Hargess.  His fee was rather steep but it was worth it if he could help me find Katy.  I figured I could afford a week of his time and I told him that I wanted to know as much about her as he could possibly find out.  I told him what I knew about Katy, which was little more than her date of birth and what Miss Mabel had told me.

“That’s not a lot of information to work with,” he said.  I agreed but told him that I knew he had access to records like car registrations and driver’s license numbers, so I asked him to check locally and nationally, if possible.

He leaned forward and said “you know it’s entirely possible that she is dead and that’s why you can’t find any trace of her.”  That was something that I didn’t want to hear but I asked him to do his best.

A week later we met and he had absolutely nothing for me.  He couldn’t find any car registered to her nor could he find that a driver’s license had ever been issued.  “You know,” he said.  “She could have gotten married and changed her name or she could have just changed it herself.  People have been known to do that when they want to disappear.”

I asked him if he had by any chance found her Social Security number.  He said that although he would be able to search, he had to have a valid reason for the search and just wanting to find somebody was not a valid reason. Then he said “she may not even have a Social Security number.”

I questioned him about that.  “It is my understanding that everybody is required to have a Social Security number,” I said.  He answered “yes, now they are but back in those days you got one mostly because you needed one to get a job.  If you didn’t work or had no intention of ever working due to being supported by a husband, there was no need.  There’s also the possibility as we discussed, that she got one under an assumed name, which I think is most likely.”

It pained me to write a check to him, when basically I had received no information, but he had put some effort into finding Katy and he deserved to be paid.

I had never been one to give up and admit defeat but I felt as if I had run into an impenetrable brick wall.

I decided to more or less “canvas” the neighborhood.  Maybe there was some old-timer around who would remember Katy and her family.

My first thought was to visit Samwell.  Maybe he knew the names of the people who had lived there.  Maybe he knew the names of the children whose portraits had been painted on his basement wall.

When I walked up to his house, he once again offered me a glass of lemonade and this time, I accepted.  I asked him about the name of the previous owners and he said “you know, I bought the house from the firm who was representing the state.  I believe their name was somewhere on the paperwork but I’m not sure.”

I told him that I was trying to find Katy and my efforts had been fruitless so far.  He told me to enjoy my lemonade while he looked for the paperwork.  I smiled when I noticed that I had subconsciously crossed my fingers.  After a few minutes, Samwell came out with a folder.  He looked through it and said “it looks like their name was McGrath.  Earl and Mildred McGrath.”  I asked if there was any mention of the children’s names.  He shook his head and said “no.”

I knew that two of the children in the painting were boys and even though I didn’t know their Christian name, they would carry the McGrath surname. The question was, were they still in the area?  Phone books were a thing of the past and although, as I said, everybody’s life and personal information is available online, it would require yet another expense.  I wasn’t sure it would be worth it so I more or less “put it on the back burner.”

I wasn’t quite ready to admit failure but I was close.  That afternoon, I sat down in my favorite chair with a cup of freshly brewed tea and just stared out the window.  It took a few minutes for me to realize that I was staring at a woman standing in front of my house.  Somehow instinctively, I knew the woman was Katy.

I jumped up and ran to the door.  I turned the knob but the door was stuck. I was pulling, kicking, cursing, crying and screaming for it to open but it wouldn’t budge.  I started yelling to Katy, begging her not to leave…begging her to wait for me.  Suddenly, the knob turned and the door finally opened.

 

 

To be continued_______________

 

 

Finding Katy – Chapter One

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_______________