Competition for Worst Month of My Life Award

You just have them sometimes. Weeks, months or even years that you would like to not only eradicate from your memory, but also ceremoniously delete from all the world's diaries and calendars just to make sure that you would never, ever be reminded of them.

September 2002 was one of those for me. I should have seen what was coming when I came out of church on the first of September turned the key in the ignition of my car and nothing happened… It took a new starter motor at £140 to sort things out.
Then during the next week I was working in my study and heard howling from downstairs only to go down and find that my eldest son Owain had fallen off his bike and had split his chin open. I took him to hospital only to find that he had also broken his left arm.
The next Monday I woke up feeling not quite right… My skin was tingling all over… and my joints were aching. I went to the Doctor’s to be told that I might have shingles, but that he couldn’t tell until any rash came out… But that whatever it was I needed to get straight to bed… I did so… But the next morning I got a phone call from Sally to tell me that the car had broken down again while she was taking Owain to school, leaving them stranded in the middle of a busy junction. I phoned the garage that had fixed the car before and they came and towed it away…
This time it was a broken accelerator cable… Another £60 for the part, plus towing charges and time, if you please… Meanwhile, that afternoon, we got a phone call from Owain’s school. He had tripped over someone else’s feet in the playground (later we found out that this was while he was playing football with his arm in a cast!) and had hurt his other hand… Another trip to the hospital to find that he had broken a finger.
But we were all well enough and the car was fixed in time for us to go to Scotland on the Thursday for my wife’s brother’s wedding… But we arrived in Scotland to find that Owain had forgotten to bring his shoes with him and we had to buy him a new pair for the wedding. Then he tripped over a wall (trying to jump over it with a broken arm and finger) and managed to split his lip open.
Then we discovered on the Friday morning that our other son Ciaran had been sick in his cot. Only something that disagreed with him we thought… Until, during the journey from Sally’s mum’s in Prestwick up to Arisaig in the highlands where the wedding was, first Owain, then I and then Sally all started to get sick… We spent the whole of Friday night in our hotel room, throwing up and running to the toilet… We woke on the day of the wedding feeling slightly better only to find out that we had infected Sally’s sister, and her aunt and two cousins… later the bride’s sister and brother in law and the best man all succumbed. The wedding photos are the most miserable you have ever seen in your lives.

I was never so glad to see a month end as that September.

But this month is shaping up nicely... Happy New Year!

So far we have experienced running out of heating oil on the coldest night of the year... Then a number of car-related annoyances. Some nice person side-swiped the front of my car in the hospital car park, scraping and denting the front passenger side panel and bumper. Then Sally's one car needed a new clutch... before my wonderful wife went off to a residential with both sets of keys for that car, only for me to turn the ignition key on my own car last night (in a rush to get my second son, Ciaran, to Beavers for his "swimming up" ceremony into Cubs which he had been looking forward to for weeks) and find no response... A nice RAC man came (after I discovered that last year we had downgraded our cover from comprehensive to roadside assistance, and unless I was prepared to push my car a quarter of a mile to be outside the "at home" limit, I would have to stump up cash to upgrade it) and managed to get it started with a hammer! (I kid you not... after using all kinds of electronic gizmos to diagnose the problem, he hit the starter motor with a ball-pein hammer and it spluttered into life) But I'll have to get a new starter motor... Which is exactly where September 2002 began...

But let's be thankful here. So far there haven't been any broken limbs (although that is always a possibility with my eldest son, and given that he is playing Inst at rugby tomorrow, that likelihood increases manyfold). We have also (so far) escaped the many flus and gastric bugs doing the rounds... And given that I spend a fair percentage of my week surrounded by such people in hospital that is no mean feat...

We have also, in both September 2002 and this month, and whenever we have experienced difficulties of one kind or another, been surrounded by genuinely helpful people who have been willing to go the extra mile (sometimes literally) for us. Although it has to be said that one of the "good Samaritans" in 2002, indirectly caused some of our anguish... Seeing my wife Sally broken down with the snapped accelerator cable, a girl who knew her stopped and kindly took Owain to school, before coming back to take Ciaran off her hands as well, taking him to mother and toddlers with her while Sally waited for the tow truck. However, it was apparently at Mothers and Toddlers that Ciaran contracted the gastro-enteritis that subsequently devastated Sally's brother's wedding, from a child who had been throwing up for 2 days, but whose mother brought him along anyway!!!

So I think we have a way to go to compare with September 2002... We breathed a sigh of relief on the 1st of October that year... Only to quickly to learn that trouble is not confined to calendar months, because exactly one week later my Father died...

But just as trouble is not portioned out according to months of the year, neither is the grace of God... And whatever difficulties we face... even when we bring them on ourselves... God's grace is more than sufficient for us... It is extended to us in the care of others, and in other inward assurances of God's guarding, guiding, supporting and sustaining presence...

That is why the prophet Habbakkuk in the face of national and natural disaster that far outstrips my personal problems, says:
Though the fig-tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Saviour.
Habakkuk 3:2-18 (ANIV)

Is that a word for the world today in the midst of the doom, misery, no hope and despair of the economic downturn? Or would Habakkuk be as roundly castigated as Baroness Vadera was in speaking of "green shoots of recovery"?


whynotsmile said…
Yikes, sounds like quite a month... hopefully this one will not get that bad.

When I was talking to my mum after the broken arm incident on Wednesday, she reminded me that it was this week last year that I was signed off work with stress for 5 weeks. In fact, Wednesday was a full year since the last time I was working full-time...

Next year, I'm staying in bed for the week!

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