The Front Door
“I’m really nervous about this,” I said.
“Everything will be okay,” replied my college boyfriend, Troy Van Vleet, in October 1972.
And 49 years later, I repeated these same words but for a totally different reason.
In the fall of 1972, my sophomore year, I had just begun dating Troy where we both attended David Lipscomb University, located in Nashville, Tennessee. His family resided there, and he asked if he could take me to his home to meet his parents. And yes, I was nervous. I remember Troy holding the front door open for me as I stepped into the entry way. Then he led me into the living room where his parents were waiting. Introductions followed and my uneasiness gradually slipped away.
When Troy took me back to my dormitory that evening, I wondered if anything would come of our dating relationship. After all, his mother’s name was Becky, my name, and my maiden name was Troyan, similar to my new boyfriend’s first name. As it turned out, I continued walking through the front door of Merle and Becky Van Vleet’s home for about two and a half years, and then I married their son!
Over the course of our dating years and marriage, 49 years total as of this writing, I walked through the front door more times than could ever be counted. Merle and Becky’s three children, their spouses, nine grandchildren, and 20 great-grandchildren walked through the front door for love, hugs, food, laughter, prayers, fun, and sometimes crying together with family losses.
My dear mother-in-law, the “other Becky Van Vleet”, walked through the front door of heaven a couple of years ago at the age of 95. Merle, my father-in-law, is still living. A few months back, he made the decision to sell their house. At first, we worried about his emotions and this decision. But his telling statement of where he was in this process allowed us to let go of worry. “This is just a house, Becky made it a home, and she’s no longer here.”
So, what makes a house become a home? I hear the words “house” and “home” used interchangeably. A house is a structure with walls and a roof. A home is different. A home is a place of love, refuge, acceptance, a sense of belonging and feeling safe.
First and foremost, family love makes a home, and there was plenty of that to go around to all of us when we gathered in Merle and Becky’s house. Family photos, special pictures and magnets on the refrigerator, children’s artwork displayed, a fridge full of food, sharing family stories, a toy corner for the grandchildren, and later the great-grandchildren, created a beautiful haven when we walked through the front door.
When my husband and I traveled to Nashville to assist with going through household items a few weeks ago, a sense of finality engulfed us. This house full of memories would go to someone else. We would never walk through the front door again. When I stepped off the plane on March 5, 2021, I said to my husband, “I’m really nervous about this.” I had uttered those very same words 49 years earlier.
The next day, before my husband and his sister and brother began the process of settling the distributions of the household items, Merle said a prayer, asking for God’s blessings. This spiritual act said it all. Merle and Becky’s home was not only filled with family love, it was also filled with God’s presence.
Today our own home is a bit brighter as the special furniture and accessories from Merle and Becky’s home have been added within our walls. The new items join my own parents’ and grandparents’ furniture that became treasures for us a number of years ago. It is my hope and prayer that our own adult children and grandchildren will keep walking through our front door for many years to come and experience true family love and God’s presence.
I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. Revelation 3:20 (CSB)
I would love to hear your comments, especially if you see yourself in one of these pictures! I always enjoy hearing from my readers. Do any of you have front door memories? I respond to all comments. (Open this in your browser and scroll down past “Related Posts” to find the comment box.)
The Front Door 1977
The Front Door 1981
The Front Door 1986
The Front Door 2003
The Front Door 2007
The Front Door 2009
The Front Door 2012
The Front Door 2012
The Front Door 2015
The Front Door 2015