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.

Happy Father’s Day

As Father’s Day is tomorrow I will, of course, be writing about my dad.
You see my dad chose to be my dad, he and my mom made a decision to become parents in their golden years. Years they could have just taken it easy, enjoyed retirement and gone on their merry way. They chose to take in and formally adopt a girl no one wanted. For that I will be forever grateful.
My dad was my hero, he was funny, smart, giving, tough, kind and said whatever he thought. He was the perfect example of how a true Christian should behave in all situations. He never spoke down to anyone, he listened to everyone’s opinions before voicing his own. He lived by example not words, now he had words but his example was tantamount to who he was.
I like to think I get a lot from him, my ability to laugh at tough situations in life, rely on God for everything. Recognize when God is sending help and opening doors and voice my opinion and listen to others. Express concern, take action when necessary and step back when needed.
My father was an extraordinary man, an example of manliness when the world was trying to stamp down on masculinity. He could fix anything that broke, he could sooth a crying child with a word and let would be suitors know he knew how to use a gun if need be.
This is one of my favorite stories, I rarely got second dates and I couldn’t figure out why. Until one of the boys I went out with finally told me what really happened after they knocked on the door.
Like any true girl of a certain age, I waited the 5 full minutes after the boy knocked on the door to come out of my room.
My dad took full advantage of that 5 minutes, he would silently lead the boys into the den, where his guns were on the wall. He would sit them in front of the guns, he would look at the guns, then look at the boy. He would do this the entire 5 minutes.
I went home and confronted my dad, he laughed for a full 20 minutes. He then said if a boy couldn’t withstand that kind of scrutiny he didn’t deserve me.
I miss that man so much. He was so full of life and laughter and was truly a man of God.
We could all use a Foy Testerman in our lives, I will be grateful the rest of my life that he chose to be my dad when he didn’t have to. That he gave up an easy life to take on a wild child and take on the Herculean task of taming her.
Happy Father’s Day to all of the dads out there, whether biological or otherwise, you all rock.

Reunion Time

No child left behind has a whole different meaning in the Testerman family, we see a child within the family that is in need and people step up to meet it. I, myself, was one of those children, my birth mother should never have had children, she was not the mothering kind. This is not a bid for pity, it is a fact, she knew it, she gave all of us away, I have often said I fared the best.
I digress, allow me to explain my thought pattern, this weekend was my family reunion and as usual there were a ton of kids running around. A truly great sight to see the younger generation there running around getting to know each other; making memories with their cousins that will last a lifetime.
One of my cousins was telling me how he was trying to get permanent custody of four of the little boys, for whatever reasons their mothers are not able to care for them. Some have even been put in foster care at this point; he is hiring an attorney to get the boys.
Several are his grandsons; several are his brother’s grandsons, his brother that has passed away. I am not surprised by his endeavors, you see someone who was not in my direct line stepped up and took me. My cousin’s generosity in this area is inherent, I have seen it over and over, Testermans stepping up and taking on a responsibility that really isn’t theirs but we consider it ours due to the children being our blood. Whether they are direct line or not, we do this because, well it’s what we do.
When someone gets married, and the other person already has children, we take those as well. They are now family, they are ours, in all the important meanings of the word family.
Elizabeth Anne’s fiancé will find this out when I start stealing his little girl to come over and play with Tessa and the Irishman’s girls. She’s a little young yet, but soon she will start saying she wants to go to Gigi’s house. I already consider her my new granddaughter.
The Irishman went with me again to my family reunion; we took his son and his youngest daughter. The oldest one had plans that she didn’t want to give up, understandable at her age, she is 12 almost thirteen, and well at this point there was nothing but strangers at this event.
So off we go with two kids, a dog and an Irishman, yes we took Stormie with us, after a quick stop at Starbucks we were off on our road trip.
We get there and my family is as loud and crazy as usual, I’m so happy some things never change. My cousins all embraced the Irishman’s children, welcoming them and even asking if they would be back next year.
When we were leaving my cousin Cindy hugged each one and told them welcome to the family.
I asked the Irishman’s son how he had liked being there, and here is a direct quote from him: “Angie your family is crazy, not the scary kind of crazy, the kind of crazy you want to be around again.”
I believe the world would be a better place if all families had the philosophy of no child left behind.

Memorial Day

A three-day weekend, that is what I first thought, I can rest up and relax, then I thought about why we have this three day weekend.

Memorial Day, it is a day where we, as Americans, reflect and honor the men and women who not only served our country, but gave their lives so that we may live ours.

As a person who has had many family members in the military this particularly hits home. The very first Testerman who came here fought for the freedom of this country from the British. He started it all, Thomas Testerman, I wish I could go back in time and know him. Have a conversation with him on his thought process and why he chose this country to land in, to fight for and to marry and have children. I wish I could tell him how it all turns out, how this family is so very proud of him for having the courage to come here for us.

I wish I could tell him of the countless generations of Testermans who selflessly joined the military, who fought the battles so we could continue to have the freedom he first fought for. I wish I could tell him about my Brothers, Uncles, Cousins and Nephew who have served. I believe he would be proud that we have carried on a tradition he started when he first signed up to be a patriot and a member of that first continental army.

I am so very honored and humbled to have known a great man by marriage, my ex-husbands grandfather. He served in WWII, and he continued to serve for many years after by helping other soldiers that were coming home. He gave so much to this country and I am honored to have known him.

I cannot forget my many friends who have served and the ones that continue to serve in the reserves. They have done and do things I could not imagine, simply so I can sit here at this computer and write this.

I have done nothing so brave in my life, I salute the ones that have, you are the real lifeblood of this country. Our protectors, our first line of defense, so on Monday we honor the ones that gave their lives so we can enjoy our freedoms.

Never forgotten, always treasured, our Armed Forces.

Veterans Day

Today is Veterans Day here in the United States of America; it is a day we set aside to recognize the sacrifices that our men and women in uniform have made. Not just for us here in the United States, but around the world, we are known as the defenders of the downtrodden, the keepers of the gate, the ones that go where no one else goes and defends the defenseless.
Many of my own family have served this great nation; they have put on the uniform of the Navy, Army, Air Force and Marines. They have given of themselves and in a couple of instances, their very lives to stand up for people who could not stand up for themselves.
I am proud to come from a family that recognizes service, servitude really, that gives of themselves so others can live free.
It all started with Thomas Testerman and just continued through the generations, I am a proud descendant of a brave man. One who gave his service to form this country, I often wonder if God grants him the vision to see the generations that came after him who have gone into service for the country he fell in love with.
If he knows that his beliefs have gone on, generation after generation.
I am in awe of the sacrifices that must be made to be a soldier, the sacrifices that the whole family makes. Some make the ultimate sacrifice with their life, I stand up today and salute the men and women of this country that put on a uniform and defend the defenseless. You are my true heroes, I might go on about Thor and Superman and all of the others, but you are bigger than they are. You have no magical powers other than your desire to serve.
You are truly appreciated by this family, one who understands honor, service and sacrifice. You exhibit those qualities daily, you and your families, the ones that are often forgotten.
On this day, I want to say a simple thank you, it doesn’t seem enough, but it is all I have to give you.

Happy Birthday Alex

Today is a special day, I know what you are thinking, well, yeah, it’s Friday, it is indeed, however, today is Thomas Alexander’s birthday. We always knew his middle name would be Alexander, it was tough choosing the first name, however, I am proud to say it is after the very first one of my ancestors to come to America on the Testerman side.
It is a day I remember well, we were so excited to welcome him the nurses thought we were in to have our first child, they were shocked to learn he was going to be our last. I think he came into this world smiling, he did it fast, he would wake up smiling. He never woke up crying, Elizabeth Anne nicknamed him Mr Sunshine Face because of it, she would run to his room and say “mommy, Mr Sunshine Face is awake!” I think Jeffrey was just happy to have another boy in the family, this way he was not outnumbered.
He quickly became just as adventurous as his brother and sister, making me wish I had 4 sets of eyes and 4 pairs of hands, always full of life, wanting to explore.
Today he is 22 and still has that smile, still wants to explore the world, learn new things and remains one of the top three things in my life I am most proud of.
He not only works two jobs but he goes to school as well, he is a daredevil in a truck, car or motorcycle, which makes me nervous. He has thought provoking ideas and we have these great conversations, even if we don’t agree on some things, he still knows how to intelligently debate his side. I am so proud of that, he is passionate about his beliefs and not afraid to voice them, however, not belligerently.
So, happy birthday son, I love you more than you will ever know, you make me proud every day that goes by.

Family Reunion

Yesterday was a stellar day; Tessa graduated from Kindergarten and will now enter the world of numbered grades. It seems like only yesterday she was learning to walk, holding on to Chewie to balance herself and feeding him goldfish. I look forward to the many more adventures she and I will be having as she continues to grow. She is an amazing little girl, I feel fortunate indeed that I get to be her Gigi.
Next weekend is the Testerman family reunion, last year was the first year that I have gone since I was a little girl. I cannot begin to express the emotions that flooded through me. I had not seen my cousins and Aunt and Uncle for so many years. I didn’t realize how much I missed having a family, that family, the ones I look like.
Looking at all of them I see my grandmother’s genetic so strongly in so many of us, I have one cousin, Pat, that looks exactly like my grandfather. I don’t think I can ever fully form the words to express how much I have missed being connected with these people. They formed my world when I was a little girl, younger than Tessa; they influenced my thought process and my belief system.
They all exemplify what it means to be a Testerman, generous, kind, rowdy, loud, boisterous and fun. I can’t wait to see them all again.
The Irishman is going with me this time, so that will be interesting, I think he will get along with them. After all he is pretty rowdy himself, being Irish and all.
My thoughts are racing, my emotions are a mess right now, seeing Tess on stage, singing her heart out, and getting ready for the reunion. I shall sign off for now.

Memorial Day

As I sit and contemplate Memorial Day I am reminded of how much my family has given to insure the freedoms that I currently enjoy. From the very first Testerman who came here in 1774, to the Hammonds, Finchers and Kemps who were here before that. To all of the ones that came after them that served in the military of this country to ensure that the freedoms of all Americans were intact and kept sacred.
There are so many of my family in just the last century that served I can’t even name them all, from my uncles, J.H., Walter, Albert, Laverne, and Wayne, to my cousins, Patrick, Albert, Larry to just name a few, I know there were tons of them! I have second cousins that went on to serve, adding women to the mix, Amy for example. I am so proud of them and the hardships they endured to ensure that I could enjoy my freedoms. I wish I could pay tribute to them all, my adopted brothers Jesse and Jim; I have a “real” brother that served as well. Currently I have a nephew still serving this country, and probably more second and third cousins I don’t even know about serving.
It is a long tradition in my family to give back, to make a difference, to stand up for the ones that cannot stand for themselves. I didn’t join the military, although my dad told me I would make a good drill sergeant, I do however try in my way to stand up for people that cannot, for whatever reason, find their voice to stand up for themselves. I was a Union Steward until I saw things that certain stewards were doing that were not ethical, and after voicing my displeasure at their behavior was told they do it because they can, I quit. However, I still continue to stand up for people, giving advise where I can. I cannot be a voice for them, but I can steer them in the right direction.
I fight where I can, I cannot compare, however to the sacrifices made by our men and women in uniform. Every day they go out and fight, protect and honor our way of life. I am proud to be an American, to stand tall in the high ideals of what we should be doing. I salute all of my family on the upcoming American holiday of paying tribute to our fallen soldiers and the ones that served and continue to serve.

Testerman Family Reunion

My head and my heart are full, it is difficult to pull my scattered thoughts together. However, I feel a need to get them down before I completely blank out on the events of the past two days.
I left home yesterday to gather with my family at the family reunion, I was both nervous and excited. All of the people there I had not seen in years, all my family, every one of them a Testerman, in some form or fashion.
Of course I got lost, called Cindy for help and she put Albert on the phone, I almost lost it, I had not heard his voice in probably 20 years. He was able to talk me in, and even met me at the road to ride with me to the campgrounds.
I got there and someone said “Hey, that’s June’s youngest” to which I replied yes I am. My aunt Laura Fay jumped up and grabbed me and hugged me, I think it was the best hug I have had in a really long time. I saw my uncle J.H., looking just like my grandmother, he favored her so much. I grabbed his hand, I saw Larry and Richard who both came over and just hugged me. It was all I could do not to bawl like a big fat baby. Richard told me that he used to spend weekends with my mom and dad, how he had loved them, and there had been no one like my mom. It is a strange family history when one is adopted by family, you see Richard was talking about my adopted mom and dad. And I agree wholeheartedly, there was no one like my mom, so good hearing it from others. We shared our memories of our grandparents, our aunts and uncles and other cousins. We remembered the ones that had passed on, we laughed at our hijinks as children and looked at the younger generation knowing they would try some of the same things we had done.
We shared our history, the stories we had all heard and everyone contributed bits and pieces that others had not heard before. I found out that I am part of the family lore, a thing that happened when I was in elementary school. I wont repeat it here, but it is funny and it was amazing hearing it being told. Albert told it, he said “I heard of one of us kids that in school said…..” I squealed with delight and said OMG that’s me! He laughed and said he knew that. Pure greatness.
I found out that one of my favorite aunts, Linnie, her middle name was Cordelia, explains why I am so fond of that character. I found out I had been missed, my cousin Amy told me that she felt I had just fallen off the face of the earth. That everyone would talk about me, but no one knew where I was. I am so grateful for facebook for taking me back home.
From the minute I walked into the reunion, I felt loved, welcomed and wanted, I will miss them until I see them again.

Testerman

With this being New Years Eve, I find myself in a reflective mood, as is normal with humans this day. Or at least I am told. What I am really thinking about lately is family, in particular my family, my cousins, my long-lost cousins with whom I have reconnected with on Facebook. I didn’t realize how much I have missed having these people in my life. I know I try to keep my anonymity on this site, but today, and today only I am going to tell you who I was, maybe who I am, and definitely who I come from.
Jason, you inspired this entry with your Facebook post on who we are, as a whole. We are Testermans, anyone who has the last name Testerman can tell you exactly where we came from. We all have the same story, from Virginia to California, if you meet one of us, we can tell you who we are, where we come from and how proud we are to be one.
As a whole, we are crazy, not the scary put us in an insane asylum crazy, but the fun, welcome to the nuthouse kind of crazy. We love hard, we tend to play hard, and everyone is welcome to the madness. We are loyal, we will do anything for you, if you need something we will move heaven and earth to make sure you have it. Even if it means we will go without ourselves. Typically, we are intelligent, articulate, and funny as all get out. We tend to be very good-looking, and we all stick together. We may fight amongst ourselves, however, if an outsider wants to pick on one of us, you will have to take on all of us. And that is a formidable number.
I have missed my cousins more than I can say, Cindy was and remains my favorite girl cousin, there I said it, and Pat, well Pat was my favorite boy cousin. Jason was always my favorite second cousin, yes there are layers, he was the cutest little boy and I am happy to say he has grown up to be a man of faith and integrity.
I love them all, and cannot wait for the family reunion this year, I will be there!