Where We’re From: Paula Givens

We all want a place to call home. A place where we fit in, feel loved and can put down roots. But home is so much more than a building or location. Home can be transient, on-the-go and span thousands of miles across the ocean. It is inside us and all around us, too. It is the life we create, the memories we keep and the people we love. 

Here, people share their stories of what home means to them. While their experiences are different, many of their thoughts are the same: Home is what and where you make it.

Maybe home can be everywhere. 

Paula Givens grew up in Jackson. And though she lived outside of the area for more than 42 years, she always knew she’d come back home. She wanted to come back to a place where she could see the stars, a land filled with peace and quiet, birds and nature, nostalgia and tradition.

In retirement, she headed home to her family’s Century Farm, which was originally established and settled in 1898. As a child, Givens remembers helping her grandmother, Reba Dow, with daily life on the farm.

“She canned everything, grew everything. We had chickens, eggs, hogs, cows,” Givens says. “I helped her wrap up the meat and make homemade lye soap. She was working every single second.”

Givens was happy to be a part of it.

As a sixth-generation family member, Givens carries on the family legacy by running and maintaining the original farmland with her husband Wayne and great Pyrenees Addie. While they added their current home to the property five years ago, many items from the original farmhouse remain the same. 

For example, her grandmother’s strawberry garden sits on the hillside, a reminder of days spent making strawberry jam. Her grandfather’s original plows and tractors remain in the barn, including a 1961 green Oliver, which Givens rode with her dad. Living here and seeing pieces of her family history scattered throughout the land allows Givens to feel the presence of those who have gone before her. 

“I’m motivated to keep it up, to keep things nice and beautiful, as they did,” Givens says. “I think they’d be proud of me.”

The Dow Century Farm is a land full of rich family history and one Givens hopes to pass on to her children and grandchildren someday. For now, she enjoys playing with them in the natural spring behind the house, skipping and throwing rocks, just like she did when she was little. 

In memory of her grandparents, Givens also cooks many of the same recipes passed down in the family for several generations. And though she doesn’t sew clothes as her ancestors did, Givens has taken up the art of quilting, a skill that allows her to stay connected to her past and the place she calls home.