Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Chapel That Built Me

Toddler House Child Care & Learning Center, 1985 (me standing at the door)

I had mixed emotions when I learned that my mom and dad were selling their chapel building.  The first emotion-- happiness.  They can both truly retire.  Mom, you don't have to stress anymore about connecting to the internet, grocery shopping for those big receptions, and long Saturdays on your feet.  Dad, you will no longer have to bother with keeping the grass mowed or worry about the leaky roof and basement. You can plan trips without a second thought of when you have to be back.  No more worrying about who is going to cover the weddings for you or getting back to the office to take care of the book work and pay bills.

On the other hand, I was terribly saddened that this building, that has been in our family for 28 years, will no longer be "ours."  I started thinking about all the memories we have had there.

As a child care center, it's where my mom managed dozens of employees and took care of hundreds of children in the ten years she operated the business. I spent countless hours there as a child.... hanging out on the playground, sneaking into the kitchen for extra snacks, waiting on my dad to pick me up on his way home from work. I learned every nook and cranny of the building. The secret bell tower. The creepy basement. The hidden passageways.

And growing up, it served many different purposes for our family.

It's where our church worshiped while our new building was being competed.
It's where I worked my first job.... helping organize and prepare lunch for the day care kids at 12 years old.
It's where I lived briefly as a child.... there was no bathroom or kitchen upstairs, but we camped out in a makeshift apartment one summer as our house in Lebanon was being finished.
It's where my brother lived for a while in his bachelor days... at least there was a kitchen and bathroom then.
It's where Danny asked me to marry him.... home from college one weekend, after working a wedding.
It's where we lived after were married... first time on our own, it just made sense.

And when mom decided to retire from child care, she took a suggestion from a friend and decided she would enter the wedding industry.  A wedding chapel?  In Mt. Juliet, TN? I'm sure many people, including my mom, had serious doubts that it would work  And, here it is, nearly 15 years later.  Yep, it worked.

An estimated 1,500 couples were married there.

Juliet's Wedding Chapel, 2000
We've worked there countless hours as a family.  Me, Erick and Angie-- pitching in however we could.  Dad-- remodeling, working on the heat and AC, more remodeling,  Mom-- taking care of all of those kids, meeting with clients, and the majority of her Saturdays for the last 15 years.

Through the years, it's where we've celebrated birthdays, showers and special occasions.  It's basically my childhood home. It's where I grew up. It's the place where I've spent more time than any other.

I can still remember entering the building for the first time.  It was 1980 something.  Dusty red carpet and church pews as far as a 7 year old could see.

Needless to say, after all of the years and memories, I am very sad to see it go.

 But, what a wonderful ride it has been.

Juliet's Wedding Chapel, 2012
Addendum: The building, built in 1944, was originally Mt. Juliet First Baptist Church.