November was a potentially bleak month. I had stopped work to become a carer, my husband was unable to increase his hours at work and the little bits I would receive from the government had yet to kick in. We were prepared; the whole family pitched in and emptied their savings into our bank account so the bills would be paid. In October, with my last pay, I bought a new washing machine and a dryer (look under DIY disasters for more on why I was stocking up on white goods), my shelves were well stocked with supplies. I thought we were looking good.
On November 3, I had €34.25, but I was not fazed, I had everything under control, or so I thought. The things that went wrong in November read like a comedy film script. My son needed a sheet of wood for his exam project, my husband’s car broke down, two cats needed the vet, my youngest son needed to see a doctor, and I had forgotten I was donating meals for a weekend for twelve women.
On November 22, I no longer had any money. My eldest son had to pay for his own birthday treat and happily paid for us all to go see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. After a brilliant time in the cinema, my car had a puncture. The nuts were machine-screwed on, so I couldn’t undo them—another hole in my widening debt. The next day, the garage insisted on two new tires, and then the bad weather appeared.
In two days, the whole of the area was under a sheet of ice. Even the best laid plans were set to go awry.
The dryer blew up in the shed, the washing machine gave up mid-cycle during my neighbor’s wash (her’s was frozen), and the central heating broke down. Eight days later, it began to thaw a little and there was a hissing noise that I eventually discovered was a burst pipe. The plumber charged me €60 to cap off the leak (note: central heating not fixed). My little old Stanley range had been belting out to heat the radiator itself, but two hours after the plumber left, half the house was getting colder; he had capped at the wrong place.
He arrived on Sunday (I couldn’t get out to church so was in my rags trying to get the new washing machine in the kitchen and the old one out). He fixed his mistake and charged me another €60. I had no fight left in me. The cupboards were bare, my husband and I could barely be in the same room without us screaming. The kids lived under their duvets keeping warm and we were eating crackers and jam for dinner. I was cold, in my bones and in spirit.
So, we had dinner, and afterward, all sat thinking of things to be thankful for: health, a roof over our heads, clothes, and each other. It wasn’t the worst month that any one has endured. It was tough, but as the recession bites deeper into all our lives, we stay optimistic, hopeful, and thankful.