Thirty-three: For fully three decades, this number has held an undeservedly high significance in my mind. Clearly, there’s no magic in such a number. I mean, Gretzky was way above that with his #99. And the fact is, getting a 33 on a test is just NOT good. Rather, thirty-three has meaning to me because it is associated with one of several indelible ‘snapshot’ memories I have from my early childhood….
We were going for a family walk near our house in Langley. We’d turned right after getting to the intersection from 48th avenue, and I remember that my parents were wearing matching blue windbreakers. I recall the word ‘windbreaker’ sounded uber cool to me at the time, I guess because even basic things in life are still oh-so-new and exciting when you’re only 3 years old. The baby of the family, I was mixing up the trip between getting rides from both parents as well as walking ‘all by myself’. As we tramped along on this grand adventure, it occurred to me that if I was 3 years old, perhaps my parents had an age too!!! “Daddy, how old are you?” I asked. … He looked down at me and said, “I’m 33.” Hey, those were the same numbers that I was, only he had TWO of them!! I asked my mom the same question, and wonder of wonders, she was 33 as well. =CLICK= (snapshot)…
Well hold the presses, this was too much for my earnest little mind to process. How on earth did they go about getting TWO of the same numbers?! Obviously the difference was significant, because my parents were grownups and had a near infinite fountain of wisdom. They knew pretty much everything, so this must be a prerequisite.
I have no idea why this was so significant to me, be it the amazing coincidence that all our ages were the same number, or the fact that this perhaps wasn’t a coincidence at all. But it was, at the time, a big old badge of ‘same-ness’ with my parents that I carried around proudly like a winning lottery ticket.
Growing up, I was the third of three children in the family. It just so happens that the first two had been adopted, or “chosen” is a better term for that time period. As they pointed out, they were “chosen” by our parents, whereas I was apparently definitely “NOT chosen.” Never mind that I had no idea what “chosen” meant. (much less the meaning of ‘adopted’). Well, I might not have been chosen, but we all had the same numbers in our ages, my parents and I. And this meant I BELONGED in this family!
Fast-forward some three decades: Today, I turned 33. It’s a funny thing how wisdom flies away faster than passing years, because I surely don’t have the wisdom my parents had when they were this age. Goodness, they’d had three kids and had already managed to get the youngest out of diapers… I haven’t even managed to produce ONE kid yet.
But I DO have children; God gave me 7 of them (and what’s the wisdom in that?! But that’s another story). My parents always seemed to know what was appropriate and what to do in any given situation, but I sure don’t! My parents started with little ones who went through an extended period of time thinking that they were the infallible centre of the universe. Me? I started out with teenagers who already knew better, so there was no opportunity to learn by stealth. Any mistake has the potential to be magnified times a hundred, then remembered that way for time immemorial. However, like they must have done, we do our best in the few days of their lives that we’ve been given to try to make as big and positive a difference as possible.My kids don’t have everything going for them, and the future isn’t necessarily all roses and chocolate pudding. I don’t share their blood, and we don’t even have any cool numbers in common (like 33). But every day, I pray that, just as I learned from the loving example of my parents, they come to realize that they were very much “chosen” just as they are. And that they BELONG in this family.