Happy Birthday Odela Mae

Today is a great day in my family, it is my mom’s birthday, July 30, 1913, what a great day. She would live through so many things, she would go through hard times, good times and amazing times.

She would grow up and marry a boy she had been in love with since she was five years old. She would be parted from said boy for 10 years while he was in heaven waiting for her.

She didn’t have to be my mom she chose to, on this day I would like to share with you one of the important lessons she taught me.

When the love of her life left this earthy plane for heaven she grieved horribly. She missed him, she missed his laughter, she missed his very presence.

I lived here in Texas, while she lived in Owasso, I would call her once a week and we wrote letters. When I would call her our conversations would naturally turn to dad. We would share remembrances, funny stories and yes some when he was stubborn. Those made us laugh the most, at the end of one of our phone calls she told me something that made me incredibly sad.

She very quietly said “you’re the only one that talks about him with me”. I said what do you mean, she went on to say everyone thought it would make her sad to talk about him, the love of her life.

But she wanted to talk about him, she wanted to laugh at stories, she wanted to tell people about him, the incredible man God gave her to be her very own. He was her prince, her knight, her movie star crush all rolled into one. And he chose her to marry, she never quite got over that fact, she never saw herself as the actual catch. My dad got to spend his life with a woman that was beautiful inside and out, God gave him a woman that would work beside him building a life.

What we can take from this, during this time when people are losing loved ones, is to allow them the freedom to talk about the people that are no longer here. Listen to their stories, laugh at the funny ones with them, that is what they need, they want, they crave. They want to know that the people that mattered the most to them are remembered.

She also told me a few weeks after my dad passed she dreamed about him. She was convinced it was more than a dream, you see the last months of my dads life wasn’t pleasant, he wasn’t really there. It was hard, it was brutal and she didn’t feel like she got to say goodbye in a meaningful way.

That night, my dad came to her, he held her and they laughed together, then he said he had to leave. She told him she didn’t want him to go, he told her he would be waiting when it was her turn.

Then the one thing happened that told her this was her gift from God, dad hugged her, and gave her the extra squeeze at the end.

She told me she had never told anyone about that extra squeeze, no one knew but her, dad and God.

She believed to the end of her days that God allowed him to come and say goodbye to her and tell her he would be waiting for her to join him in heaven.

So as a birthday present to my mom, I pass these things on to you.

Happy Birthday Mom, I love you so much, thank you for the life that you

allowed me to have.

 

Christmas Past

Christmas Eve is here, the turkey is in the oven, the dressing started, to be fair, part of it was started a couple of days ago. I sit quietly with my coffee, reflecting, it’s the day for that. It started last night with a dream of Christmas at my parents house.

We all have those memories, the ones that are so warm and inviting that you almost feel as if time travel is a real possibility. Sam Beckett style, so you can really appreciate the experience.

I remember my mom waking up at 4am to put the turkey in, the sounds coming from the kitchen are comforting. When I wake again it is to the aroma of turkey cooking, bread rising and pancakes.

There was always pancakes on Christmas, with bacon and real hot cocoa.

Then everyone would come to the house, my nephews and niece, brothers and sister and their spouses. The laughter was the best sound in the world. My dad had this booming laugh, that would not only fill the house but one’s soul as well. He was always so joyful, that joy was contagious. He was a gregarious man who loved life and loved God. What a combination, he and my mom lived a life that was a true testament to how Christians should behave. Never judgmental (except for my music) always loving, generous and warm. Christmas always amplified those qualities.

When it came time for lunch, yes we had Christmas lunch, my dad would ask one of my brothers to say the blessing.

It was always Jesse, the youngest, I will be honest, I never noticed until my oldest brothers son brought it to my attention.

He said it really hurt his dad that my dad never chose him. So, on that last Christmas that we all spent together, we didn’t know it would be our last at the time, I was with my mom in the kitchen. I started talking about how much I loved our Christmas traditions and then I said did you ever notice dad doesn’t ask Jim to say the blessing? It’s always Jesse, I wonder if Jim would like to say it. Then I just left it there.

At lunch that day my dad asked Jim to say the blessing, Jim looked startled and his eyes got a little teary, darn Oklahoma dust. Then he said the prayer and it was beautiful. Later my nephew told me how much that meant to Jim.

I hope when my children look back at our Christmas times together, they do it with as much fondness as I have for my memories with my parents.

I don’t remember the presents, well, one I do, my cowboy boots that I wanted so badly. I kept them forever, until they literally fell apart. Urban Cowboy, anyone.

I remember the love, the warmth, the laughter and the wonderful dressing. There I said it, dressing, not stuffing, to this day I still make my mom’s dressing. I don’t deviate, I don’t add, take away, or anything else. With every bite I take of that dressing I am back in Owasso, Oklahoma, I can hear my dad’s laughter and see the twinkle in my mom’s eyes. I feel love.

I pray everyone has be the best Christmas ever and experiences the promises of what is to come.

Seamstress Found

My mother used to be my seamstress, she was hands down the best seamstress in all of Oklahoma, nay, the world, nay, the universe. The covenant between a seamstress and her client is sacrosanct. You have to be able to trust your seamstress to tell you the truth about your clothing choices. Not what they think you want to hear, even if that truth is harsh.

So I needed a seamstress to do some alterations on a dress I am going to wear to a formal wedding. I found the dress I wanted, I was really hoping I wasn’t just thinking it would look good on me and it was not going to.

I researched online to find a seamstress, I found one with great reviews and called her. She could fit me in, I have two dresses, one is my dream dress the other a backup.

I took both because one needed to be altered and one needed to be hemmed.

Today I had a fitting, the one that needed to be altered, dream dress, fits like a glove, but I didn’t want to be overly optimistic. So I said I’m not really sure, she said try on the other one, I did. She came into the room and said can I be honest with you.

I said, yes please, brutally, she said the first dress looks amazing on you, this dress makes you look older than you are. I was like um I’m 55, she said what, I said um yeah. She said no, this is not the dress for you, the first one looks amazing and that is the one you need to wear.

I concurred, she will finish the alterations and have it cleaned and pressed and I will pick it up Monday.

I am very excited, this wedding is going to be so awesome, I cannot wait to see this beautiful bride walk down the aisle.

I am very happy to have found a good seamstress in the area, I haven’t really had one since my mom stopped being one. Like I said, the trust has to be there, my mother used to tell me some harsh truths. And I appreciated it, greatly, I am not one to tell a white lie when it comes to fashion.

It’s a risky thing, to tell a stranger the truth in a department store dressing area. I have done that, of course I told them my name was Rachel and I was a buyer for Bloomingdales. I didn’t want to die.

being the daughter of a seamstress affords me a different eye when it comes to fashion and what fits and what looks good on people. I wish I could sew, I cannot, I never had the patience to learn, my poor mother tried, but even she had to admit defeat.

My head was better suited to living in the clouds and reading all day long. She knew that and was happy to allow me to be well, me.

Maybe I’ll post pictures of me in the dress, that way you can all judge me. It’ll be too late by then, but hey, that is what the internet was invented for. Judging others after the fact, or making up stuff in it’s entirety and going to jail for it.

Day 3 Legacy of Foy and Odela

Todays missive comes to you from my mothers cousin Joe Kee and his wife Mary. The story they tell is one of childhood and then one of my dad in adulthood. The one from adulthood is one I have never heard but it fits with my dads personality and sense of Christ. I hope you enjoy it.’

Jan. 3, 1984

Joe and Mary Kee

Odella was Joe Kee’s cousin and Foy had lived close by since Joe was a small boy, when all would come over to play at Uncle Toms house. Uncle Tom Allen lived close to Monroe Kee with their wives being sisters.

Us kids had some good times and gave others some bad times. What one couldn’t think of one of the rest of us was bound to. In later years we all moved to Amber. Joe took Rhoda, his sister to practice on a play and he stayed at Bob Allens home. Jess and Joe decided to scare all of the other boys in the house. They tied a string above the window in the bedroom and down to the castor bean stalk in Linnies garden. Joe put rosum on the string. Jess and Joe told the others they were going into town and of course there is always someone else wanting to go it was Tom. Finally when they couldn’t talk Tom out of going, they let him in on to what they were going to do. They said “now Tom you get the shells out of that gun of Ralphs or he will shoot us.” Tom played the French harp and he was good. About dark he was playing that harp and we hit that string and it made a terrible racket. We could see them open the bedroom door and peep into the room. They couldn’t see anything so they went back, a few minutes we hit that thing again and back they came and would peep around and look all over the room. Finally they came peeped out the door but they wouldn’t come out. That line did make a terrible racket and was enough to scare you. We decided that they were too scared to come out so Jess sneaked down to the hen house and got an old hen and he would grab a feather behind that old hens head and pull it out and of all the swaking that hen would do it. Ralph got his gun and stuck out the door. He didn’t even come out where he could see he just put it around the corner. Jess took off and I could hear him running plop plop plop,. He sounded like a herd of cows., Ralph hollored again, “stop or I will shoot”. We started to laugh and he said you are mighty lucky I could of shot you. We said oh you didn’t even have any shells, he said “I always have shells.” He looked and the gun was empty,

I remember after Mary and I married they came to our house at Stonewall and stayed the night. Mary started to fix the meal and had no bacon.. Odella went out into the car and got some and Mary has always remembered that visit. They had to bring their own food but that wasn’t the only reason we remembered that visit,. Foy told of a man in his church that he really had got to the point of not being to worship at church because of. He could hardly stand the man, so bad was his dislike for the man he could hardly worship, One day the Pastor had them all knell in prayer at church and Foy said he started to pray for that man and then Foy said, “I found myself praying for old Floy and when I got up and looked at that man he looked so different”, Mary and I talked about that many times since and I think he taught us what the parable in the Bible meant to first cast out the beam in your own eye, Foy and Odella taught many people things, I was around them all my life in growing up and I never heard them or their family ever say a bad word, we love Odella and Foy and hope they feel our love through out all of the years to come.

Day 2 of Valentines with Foy and Odela

Yesterday’s note was chosen by choice, todays was random. This one is from Al and Grace Wimberly, Sister Grace (I’m Freewill Baptist, that’s how we refer to each other) was one of my favorite Sunday school teachers. I am going to tell a little story that my dad told me about the Wimberly’s. They have both gone to their heavenly home, so I know they won’t mind me revealing this fact about them.

They were not native Owassoans, they actually chose Owasso to retire to, not really sure how that happened, but they did. They were big couponers before it was a thing. The money they saved in coupons went into a jar, every June they would take that money to Brother Pirtle (the preacher of our church) and give it to him to pay for children who would not be able to afford it otherwise, to go to camp. Here is their note to my parents:

Al and Grace Wimberly

Jan. 12, 1982

A Tribute To Foy and Odella Testerman On Their 50th Wedding Anniversary

Foy’s smile – Prayers in the Church – Comments in adult Sunday school Class. In 1982 they read through the Bible and we had wonderful discussions on Friday when we where grocery shopping at Safeway. Odella’s pecan pies at birthday suppers and when the Ladies Auxillary took food into bereaved families. The positive testimony for Christ and the Free Will Baptist Church in the community. “Do you know the Testerman’s they go there?” Was the question asked by people when they found out where we went to church.

What a pleasant time to go their place. The walk down the hill to the huge garden. Those big beautiful potatoes. The bucket of turnips that we where given. Foy’s willingness to share his knowledge about gardening. Odella’s story of the rabbits in their first garden. She carried a gun to the garden instead of a hoe. The raccoon’s that ate their corn. Odella’s beautiful sewing.

The crowning point of taking Angie in and giving her a christian home atmosphere. Our prayers are that God will still use that act of mercy to His glory. Wish to God there were more Testerman’s in this world and in the churches,. We love you Foy and Odella and thank you for letting us share your anniversary.

Foy and Odela Legacy of Love

This week is Valentines week, the day of love, as it were, there are many different kinds of love. As everyone who knows me, knows, that my parents are my favorite love story. On their 50th wedding anniversary we had a surprise party for them. In the invitation we included a blank piece of paper and a self-addressed envelope. We asked everyone to write their favorite memory of our parents. We then made a book of all of the memories and presented it to them at their party. My mom and dad both said it was the best present they had ever gotten. I have that book of memories. I was telling my BBFF about it and he suggested that I share one of those memories each day of Valentines week. A brilliant idea from a brilliant friend, putting that Rice education to use. So I shall share a memory each day, I am going to start with my brother Jesse, since he is in heaven with them now it seems fitting. I hope you enjoy these memories as much as they did. I am also not correcting grammar, punctuation or spelling as I believe they are all charming the way they were written.

Date: Today

Name: Mine

Once upon a time there was a family. Mom, dad, Jim, Nell, Jesse, later, much later in life there came Angie. This family was the most and goodest for Jesse because he was the youngest of all the original three kids.

I have written this at least a hundred times fifty in my head and fifty on paper.

Memories well I wrote those once and it filled too many pages. I rember the times in the spring we would have boiled eggs and fried potatoes cooked over a fire on the creek bank not all moms would do that. I rember the trips to calif. and the stories told by dad of things before I began to remember. The memories of those long trips just our family are great.

Today I sit and look at my family and see our family of today in each day and action by each member

Memories I am living them through Robby, Ricky and Rhonda. I see every day what we kids did and I hope that the memories I treasure from my childhood one day will be exibited by my childern.

I look back now and say thank you for making me go to church. Showing me this non-nondescript mission on main street in Owasso. What I sometimes wonder is what in the world were we doing in Owasso when we lived in Vera, well I guess that is the way God works. To try to write what I really feel or remember.

I guess it is like Robby said if I write I love you in the middle of a sheet of paper it would really say what needs to be said.

Thank you for haveing a place of refuge for my new family while I was in the Navy. Knowing that they were in good hands enabled me to sleep well, when they would let me, and have peace of mind. Thanks for giving my wife and kids the love and guidance they have received in this last twenty years of my life. I will admit that it is much easier to live at home and depend on others for decisions (mom/dad may I) and finances than it ever has been sence Sept. 6, 1963.

In closing I just want to say mom, dad I do love you both more than can be written. Hope for another fifty

Jesse R. Testerman

Adoption Scare

Mark Wahlberg has a new movie that is coming out next week, Instant Family. It is about a couple that want to adopt and end up with three older children from foster care.

I will be going to see this movie, I hope it encourages people who want to adopt to go through the foster system and look at older children.

I was one of those older children, I wasn’t in the foster system, but I really was unadoptable by the world’s standard. Most people want babies, they want a child they can raise from infancy to adulthood. Typically older children have been through a pretty rough life and are harder to handle. It takes special people to take on this responsibility.

Older children also live with constant fear that they will be sent back if they are too difficult, which is hard to avoid in teenage years.

Usually there is a pivotal moment when the child realizes no matter what happens they have found their home.

I remember what mine was vividly, it wasn’t too long after I came to live with my parents. About 6 months in, I was sitting in class and someone came and said I was wanted in the Principals office. the whole class said ooooooohhh, of course, I was confused, I didn’t remember doing anything.

I went in and there was the Principal and my birth mother and my oldest birth brother and his wife. I just stood there, I thought oh they just called these people and didn’t want to see me again.

I just knew my life was over, it really would have been, these were not good people.

Unbeknownst to me, the principal had called my parents and the chief of police in Owasso. I wish I could remember his name, because he was incredible.

Just when June (birth mother) was telling me they had come for me, my parents burst through the door.

I instantly knew I was safe, my mom grabbed my hand and pulled me close to her. I knew right then I wasn’t going anywhere and they were not giving me up. My dad proceeded to just speak to June telling her that she had signed the adoption papers (before that I didn’t know that had happened and they were taking legal steps to make me theirs). He told her for once in her life do the right thing for one of her children.

Birth brothers wife then spoke up and she was talking to me and said we have your room ready, it’s your favorite color, yellow.

Yellow! My mom exclaimed, that shows you don’t know her at all, her favorite color is deep red. About that time the chief of police shows up, if any of my Owasso friends read this, please tell me his name.

He took one look at what was going on, he was good friends with my dad and already knew the story of me. He told those people, you have thirty minutes to get out of Owasso. If you ever come back to my town I will not need a reason to arrest you, I will just do it. Do not stop for gas, food or anything else until you hit Tulsa.

They left that day and that was the last time I ever saw birth brother. From what I have heard he is in prison now for multiple crimes. I saw June once more at my grandmother’s funeral.

But in that moment I knew I wasn’t going anywhere and I could be myself. I could fully be Angie and they wouldn’t want to get rid of me.

Adopting an older child is in a way a lot more work than starting with an infant, but it changes that child for the better.

I have said it before, I very literally don’t know what would have happened to me if my parents hadn’t adopted me. I will be going to see the movie and I am positive I am going to cry.

Any comments, questions or criticisms can be left here or sent to angie@angieworld.com

Missing

The beginning of August is always a little bumpy for me, Michael’s birthday is today August 9, my mom passed on August 11, and now August 3 will be a little rough as that is the day my brother Jesse passed.
As most of you know I am adopted, everyone should really know that by now as it is, for better or worse, part of my identity.
Jesse was the youngest of my siblings, he was 20 years older than I. Even at that, he was a really great big brother in my teenage years. Jesse always had a mischievous glint in his eyes, even as an adult, you could tell there was something there, just under the surface, waiting to come out. A funny joke, a stinging comeback (for which we are all famous for) or comforting words.
He was equal parts funny, sarcastic, caring and a good son to my parents.
There is one time in particular that always comes to mind:
One day I was sitting in the den watching television and Jesse walked in. He didn’t say a word he just sat down next to me. He sighed heavily instigating the tell me what’s wrong conversation.
He looked at me and said you know Angie I told my kids that they shouldn’t even try to think of anything ornery to do because I’ve done it all. There is nothing you can think of that I have not done.
He was right about that, he was a really ornery child according to my parents. The original Dennis the Menace, please note, in my family orneriness is a gift.
I looked at him and said you’re stupid, you didn’t give your kids a warning, you issued a challenge.
He looked at me and said I realize that now. He went on to say those kids of mine thought of things I would never have thought to do.
I laughed for a solid five minutes because I knew that was true.
All three of his children were true Testerman’s, funny, smart and mischievous in nature. All of those traits are considered positive in my family.
This world will miss his humor, the glint in his eyes, the smile that made you wonder what he was up to and when the other shoe would drop.
I am completely grateful my daughter, Elizabeth Anne, traveled to Owasso with me to say goodbye. There are many things I will never talk about here, just know, that girl is my rock star, my hero, my protector when needed.
As usual, any complaints, comments or just to tell me how awesome I am can be left here or sent to angie@angieworld.com

Owasso Reunion

I have been thinking about Owasso a lot lately, not the Owasso of today, but the Owasso of my youth.
With our 35, yes 35, year high school reunion looming on the horizon of course that sets off my memories.
I was teetering on not going, I have not been in a good place in my life and really didn’t want to have to face my more successfully counterparts.
But now, well, life has changed and I feel good again, hopeful, thankful, and yes, happy.
I have a deep love of Owasso, that is not a huge secret. Owasso was the place I learned who I really was, a geeky, nerdy, book loving, sci-fi watching girl. Who seriously made no apologies for any of her quirks. And there were and are many quirks.
It was the first place I felt fully accepted, I had a mom and dad that really wanted me to be there and loved me. I had a best friend, I had a great school, I had so much fun.
It was the place I accepted Christ, in a church that was filled with people just as quirky as I was. A church that was loving, fun and filled with real people, who didn’t shy away from their human failings.
A failing was just a lesson, you could learn from it and not do it again or you could just keep doing what you were doing and keep failing. They would still love and accept you.
It’s where I learned how to shoot a gun, how to cook a roast and how much I hated domestication. Owasso was where I learned my parenting skills, without being taught those I don’t even know what kind of mother I would have been.
Owasso is the place I will always call home, it is a place where I will always run away to when life is overwhelming.
It is a place where I can breath, where I still feel accepted, even though I don’t really know anyone there anymore. I think a few of my high school comrades still live there, but not many.
At times I have thought about returning to live, however, I am firmly entrenched in Texas. The place I have chosen to live, my children are true Texans and now my granddaughter is as well.
I would never leave them, but without Owasso having been in my life, I’m pretty sure there would be no them.
So, to my 35th high school reunion I will go, I will look at my classmates and see them as they were. Young, beautiful, and full of life and ready to take on the world.
As always any questions or criticisms can be directed to angie@angieworld.com

My Dad

My dad’s birthday was June 3rd, I know, I am horribly late, but I had a hard time deciding which dad story I wanted to tell. The one I kept coming back to was the sock birthday.
Anyone who knew my dad will tell you he was the most humble, kind, caring and strong man ever, with a wicked sense of humor. It’s no wonder he truly was one of God’s favorite children.
One year, after I had moved to Texas, I called him to ask what he wanted for his birthday. As usual he said nothing, not a thing, I have everything I could want or need. That’s what he said.
I said, dad, don’t take away the joy of giving you a gift from me. You see that always worked when my mom would say that to me. Didn’t work, so I kept on, dad, dad, dad, dad, tell me, tell me, tell me. Yes, even at that age I was annoying. Oh wow, I just saw it, Alex gets it from me! I digress.
So he finally acquiesced, since he knew I wouldn’t stop, and said, well I need socks. Socks? You asked, I told you, socks.
Socks.
I said ok. Then off I went to Dillard’s (THE store of the day) and went to work, I got so many dress socks, then every day socks, then in-between socks. I spent over $100 on socks. Not to show off mind you, that I could afford that, but to be funny. He wanted socks, socks he would get.
UPS would deliver them, I would sit back and be able to hear the laughter all the way to Texas.
Back then there was no internet and no UPS site to track the package. So I waited, and waited, it seemed to take forever, in reality it was three days.
I called him on the evening I suspected it had been delivered. When my dad heard my voice, it was worth all of the effort I put into picking out those socks, his booming laughter over the phone was all the thanks I needed for that gift.
He said when he opened that package he laughed for a solid thirty minutes. Then chuckled the rest of the day, he said it served him right for telling me socks in the first place.
He then went on to tell me they would last the rest of his days, they did. When I went home for his funeral, mom showed me his sock drawer and there was one pair with the wrapping still on them. She took them to the funeral home and he was buried in them.
I miss my dad every day, I am so thankful he was my dad, that he gave me an undying sense of humor.
Thanks to him I am able to laugh at things that happen in my life that would fell lesser beings.
To this day I can still hear that laugh, that amazing laugh, that let you know life isn’t that bad.