I have always felt “different”. Like an old soul. It’s something I never could quite put my finger on it. I remember thinking I was old long before I ever started school.
No, I know that doesn’t make any sense. But that’s okay! Being an old soul never made any sense to me either!
But it’s still funny because when my son was little, he used to tell stories about “back when he was old” 🙂
At any rate…
I’ve often wondered if it was the way I was raised or where my family was from. Being from the Appalachian mountain region can certainly leave a mark. (Thank God!) But still, I think it’s something more.
I was the only one of my siblings that wasn’t actually born in Eastern Kentucky. The only one in my whole family, or ancestry rather, to not be born there. And I still managed to turn into an old soul.
Both Mom and Dad’s sides of the family were born and raised in or around Harlan County. The further back you go, the more you see the tree start to branch out: Rose Hill, VA; Bell County, KY; Grainger County, TN; Cherokee, NC; and on and on.
Eventually, you get back to the 1500s in England with some tales I never was brave enough to add to the family tree book. I didn’t know whether or not they were true or false. But that really is a story for another day 🙂
Things Are Different
Growing up in the mountains, or at least for the years that I was there, definitely made me different. An old soul for sure. And I’m glad of it. Things were so different and I often find myself wishing I could go back in time, just one more time.
It’s hard to find words to describe the feelings that come over me when I think about it.
Before I started school, mom spent a lot of her free time teaching me to read and write. So I could already do that by the time I started first grade. We didn’t do kindergarten back then, at least not in my family.
I guess that’s where my homeschooling ideals first got started. She did a better job of teaching me than any “teacher” ever did. Of course, I wanted to be a teacher back in those days. But, a teacher like her. Not like, a public-school teacher.
I remember sitting at the end of the table in the kitchen, closest to the living room, while she did the dishes. She would write a series of letters in a line down the page with a blank space in front of them. It would look something like this…. _at -or- _og.
I would fill in a letter at the beginning to make a word. And it had to be a real word, none of that made-up stuff 🙂
I don’t remember having any chores, to be honest. I spent most of my free time exploring the mountains and bringing critters home to Mom, like any old soul. When I wasn’t doing that, I was pretending the front porch was the Grand Old Opry stage, as I stood and sung.
I chased rabbits and snakes and groundhogs, and sometimes I caught them. I stared up into the mountains many times, wondering where all the dangerous animals were. We knew there were black bears and mountain cats up there, but I never saw them.
Sometimes I would walk up to the spring with Daddy. While we were up that way, we would stop and visit the family graveyard. Paying our respects was very important back then, and I often wonder where that went.
There was a spot off to the side of the graveyard where you could look out over the holler. I guess it’s still one of the most beautiful sites in all the world to me. It could be that it truly is that beautiful or it could be that it represents something I feel I’ll never get back. Either way, it’s etched in my mind.
As I said, I roamed the mountains a lot, and I sang on the front porch a lot too. Then there were our “toys”. We didn’t have many, but Mom, an old soul herself, would never have us to be bored. She would come outside and build make-believe ovens and refrigerators and sinks and more out of cinder block and wood.
She made paste out of flour and water. And when I wanted to pretend I was someone else coming to visit, she’d play along, of course.
Sometimes, I would have my cousins come home with me after school. Unfortunately, they didn’t like singing on the front porch, which is about all I wanted to do. So they would eventually wind up playing dolls with my little sister instead. Still, it didn’t deter my singing!
I don’t really remember how often we went to church, but when we did, it was so exciting to me. The little church we attended was full of family. As far back as I can remember, the preacher was family too: Daddy’s uncle Tad. His real name was Otis, but I never knew that for years.
One of the most exciting things about church, to me, was when people got up to sing specials. I don’t think there was a bad singer in the whole bunch! I remember standing beside my Daddy’s Aunt Nerve (short for Minerva). She was Tad’s wife and truly an old soul.
I would stare up at her as she sang and somehow, I can still remember her voice. In my mind, it was ragged and frail, but she sang as loud and as anxiously as anybody else! Funny how things like that stick with you. I think she passed away in 1979. That was my sixth year.
I remember when my Daddy was baptized too. I don’t remember him going forth, but I sure remember the day they went down to the river. The water was as blue as anything and I remember being so happy, even though I was so young. While I might not have known and understood the impact, I “knew” still. I guess that’s part of being an old soul.
Just like I remember when my mom was saved. There were several of her friends and family around her and they prayed her right through. It’s hazy and the memory is worn a bit, but I don’t reckon I’ll ever forget it!
Leaving The Mountain Life
I guess we moved back and forth between the mountains and our other home about once a year until I was in about the sixth grade. Then we finally settled down in Central Kentucky and stayed there.
We went back for visits, often at first, and then just once a year. Now, we rarely get back up there unless we’re going for a funeral. How sad is that? It’s the place my heart holds the dearest, and I can’t get back near as often as I want to. That hurts my old soul.
Not The Same
Life in the mountains just isn’t the same as it is anywhere else. Moving away didn’t impact me as much because, as I said, we went back and forth almost every year. I had as many friends in school in one city as I did the other, so I really didn’t care much back then.
But it’s just not the same. You can’t live the same way anywhere else. For instance, the way we use to walk to church for service, you couldn’t do that down home. In the mountains, I even walked to school, but you couldn’t do that in Central Kentucky.
Not even in the ’80s.
Even if you were an old soul.
In the mountains, I could go anywhere, walk anywhere I wanted. I didn’t realize it then, but Mom knew that there were always eyes on me. If it wasn’t the eyes of family, then it was the eyes of friends, and they were one and the same. You could trust everybody, at least as best I can remember.
The school I attended in the mountains was the same one my Mom and Dad had attended all those years before. My teachers were mostly cousins or cousins-in-law. Everybody knew everybody and if I had acted up, Mom would have known it!
You Can Take The Girl Out of The Mountains…
I don’t guess I ever got over leaving the mountains. I never stopped missing it…still haven’t stopped missing it! All those things I remember from my youth are still with me AND my old soul. I can’t name them all, but sometimes they come upon me so fast, I get glimpses of things long past.
I think a good portion of the woman I am today came from my foundation there and being related to who I was related to. My grandmother Mammy, as we called her, and her daughter (my aunt) Pauline never wore a pair of pants in their life. They weren’t in my life as much as I would have liked, but even just their image was influential to me.
As best I can remember, it wasn’t so much religion, as you would automatically assume it to be these days. No, they did it from something deep inside. It really meant something to them, and that’s why they did it. I could write a whole book about those women!
The Old Soul I Am Today
Everything that comes around goes around, they say. And the Bible says, there is nothing new under the sun. I guess that’s still true. Without really meaning to, I’ve acquired a few titles and take up space in the minds of some people as odd, I think.
I remember one place I worked, the younger girls called me a “hippie”. Which made me laugh! First of all, they were too young to know what a real hippie really was. Second, they based it on “the way I lived” they said.
Then I have friends who say if anything bad ever happens, they know where they’re going to be! At my house! Because they, too, know how I live.
So how is it that I live that makes people see me in such a drastically different light?
Well, there are a few things I have become that I do not waver away from. It’s either because of my faith in the Word of God, which dictates how I desperately try to live my life. Or it’s from the things I have found to be true, no matter how old they are. Those are the two biggest influences on the direction of my life.
Let’s see if I can pick a few things out to tell you about…
A Woman’s Role…
I am, by no scope of the imagination, a feminist. In fact, I can’t wrap my mind around the reason they believe the things they do.
No, I wholeheartedly believe in the Bible’s definition of a woman being a help-meet to her husband. No, I don’t think that means we are to be “beneath them” or anything like that. Helping your husband can mean a lot of things, even taking a job sometimes, if you have to. Especially in this day and age.
As important as being a good wife is being a good mother. There’s another topic that could be turned into a book. But for now, I will say that a woman also has to remember, we all make mistakes. There will be days when you will feel like the worst wife and/or mother on the planet. Believe me, you’re not the first!
What I Do
Every day that it’s possible, I like to have a home-cooked meal ready for my husband when he gets home from work. I wash his clothes and make sure the house is clean and pleasant for him to come home to. If I can, I try to mend clothes instead of throwing them out and buying new ones. I bake bread, cook from scratch, save water in jugs, freeze leftovers and save bacon grease.
All those things might seem like a sketch out of “Leave It To Beaver” but they’re not. Honestly, I think if more women acted like a wife and mother should in caring for the home and things that go along with it, we wouldn’t have nearly as many familial breaks.
I homeschool as well, which automatically makes me weird to many people. In my opinion, it is a mother’s duty to pray for and over her children on a daily basis. I try to fix them snacks and special things when I’m able, but I also try to be careful not to spoil them. I’ve done it! But I try really hard not to!
Where Old Soul Comes From
Aside from my upbringing, family values that have been passed on and plain old living experience, there’s something else I found the other day. Something that sheds new light on the way I see things and why.
I had never seen it before, at least, I don’t remember it if I did. But it struck a chord with me and was an immediate “A-HA” moment. Let me share it with you now…
Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the way, and see, and ask for old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. (Jeremiah 6:16)
See, there’s a reason some of us are “Old Souls”. It’s how God wants us to be. It’s how we were meant to be, really. We should remember, and carry out, more of the old ways.
I don’t think that we were meant to live, paycheck to paycheck, spending all our time trying to “get money” to “get things”. If we were walking in the “old paths”, we would be growing our food, storing our food, building our own homes, making and mending our own clothes, teaching our own children…and the list goes on and on.
Is it a life for everybody? No, it certainly isn’t. Unfortunately, we have gotten so far away from the simpler times, many couldn’t even survive. Without the things that make life easy, the money that coats the bank account and a false sense of security from the high paying job, many people would have a nervous breakdown.
I pray that someday, we will again live in that simpler time.
I’m so ready!