By John W. Vander Velden

Thirty-three is an odd number. Not only because the integer is not divisible by two, but it doesn’t quite fit in with others very well. All the same it comes to my mind in several ways. One example. I have a stack of LPs, what are now called vinyls. In the day before CDs became the norm, certainly long before digital music of any kind, long playing records were common. Those platters were spun on turntables rotating at thirty-three and a third revolutions per minute.

Even then the number seemed a bit strange. It was the one third that made it most peculiar. For wouldn’t thirty- three or thirty- four make more sense. Yes, thirty-three and a third times three, which seems like an awful lot of threes, equals one hundred. So why did someone in the know pick thirty-three and change for the speed of a LP. For that matter why had someone picked seventy-eight rpm for the first pressed recording, and forty-five rpms for singles with that silly big center hole?

Who knows?

And in truth, who really cares. It is just some silly thoughts that have passed between my ears as the number thirty-three approaches for a much different reason. For you see thirty-three years is a milestone that Jackie and I have reached.

I can remember a snowy March Saturday. The gray day with thin wisps of snow blowing across US 6 as we went to a church. Much of that morning is lost, for now in a blur of memories faded by thirty-three years. But there are portions of that day I will never forget. Portions of infinite importance to me. Memories of friends, best friends of years shared. Memories of brothers, true friends by blood. I remember a set of clothes I only wore once. I remember waiting, anticipating in front of a room filled with those I had known and loved, and others I have come to love. I remember the music, the emotion, the fear.

At thirty-seven I was no longer a child, but I understood the intensity of the moment I face. How I was about to change my life in a way that could never be undone. I stood with my band of brothers, kin and friends, prepared, I thought, to make a vows to Jackie. Prepared to give more than my life, but also my heart, my future, my everything. Willing to bind my life to this woman who was foolish enough to accept this pitiful person who loved her.

We have shared this life for thirty-three years, and what a ride it has been. There are times when it seems impossible it has been that long. Surely that number is inflated. But when I take the time to look back at what has occured, the places we have seen, the child we raised that is now a man. When I consider and all our triumphs, for there have been several, and remember the tragedies we have endured, then yes, the span of years has been significant.

But anniversaries should not be limited to a rear view of years passed. It also needs to be a time for looking forward. A time of anticipation. No, we do not know what our future holds but we know, that for now, we walk boldly hand in hand. And have confidence we will never be alone, even if the day comes when the two of us becomes the one left behind. For God will never abandon, and love’s cord cannot be severed.

I have been honored to have shared my life with Jackie. She has been my dearest friend for thirty-three years. Oh she’s not perfect, but she’s my champion. The person I can always count upon. The person that sees more in me than I see in myself. Jackie has helped me rise to places I would never imagine reaching. It is my hope I have aided her assent as well.

In this life we are a team… And as a team, and with God’s help, we stride forward into the next thirty- three years or however many we are given!

(690 Words) 3–17–2022



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John Vander Velden

an avid reader and life long story teller, who approaches life with open eyes, hearing ears, and a heart willing to feel.