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Blessings beyond money
By Tammy Barton

Ros and John’s situation has touched all of us at MyBudget. The couple approached us after John suffered a medical emergency that sent their lives careening in a new direction. Yet somehow, despite challenges you would expect to break them, Ros and John have showed us how to remain positive and generous in the face of a crisis. We thank them for allowing us to share their story with you.

Ros is an upbeat, go get ‘em type of person. She used to work full-time as an assistant coordinator for aged and disabilities services while her husband, John, was a creative craftsman skilled in graphic design and cabinet making. Together, they also ran a part-time business hosting karaoke events for local pubs. Their adult children, from Ros’s previous marriage, had flown the coop which afforded Ros and John a ‘double income no kids’ lifestyle. They filled their empty nest with three “fur babies”, Timmy, Georgie and Brucie; little Chihuahuas with big personalities. Ros and John, both in their forties, worked hard through the week and enjoyed kicking up their heels on the weekends.

But life has the propensity to change suddenly. Approximately 18 months ago, John was rushed to hospital with an aneurysm in his brain. An aneurysm describes a swollen blood vessel. It’s a life-threatening condition which often presents with few advance symptoms. Surgeons managed to save John’s life, but complications resulted in John sustaining a brain injury which affects his memory and motor skills. John is now unable to work or be left alone and Ros has become his full-time carer.

By the time John and Ros came to MyBudget they were living pension-to-pension and had exhausted nearly all of their savings. Their biggest expenses included medical bills, rehabilitation costs and the mortgage on their house. MyBudget was able to arrange a release of funds and insurance payouts from Ros and John’s superannuation accounts. Meanwhile, Ros keeps the karaoke business going a few evenings a week. “It used to be our cream,” says Ros good-spiritedly. “And now it’s our bread and butter.” Aside from helping to secure extra funds, MyBudget has also taken the pressure off Ros by managing the couple’s bills. This allows her to focus on John’s care and recovery. “We’ve been to hell and back and to have MyBudget there to help us has been great,” Ros tells me.

I ask Ros how she and John are coping. She replies, “I’ve got to be strong for John because he feels guilty about what has happened. Sometimes I haven’t coped with things. I break down every now and then, but John’s alive and there really are more good things than bad.” Ros admits that she’s been through all stages of the grieving process, from crushing sadness to shattering anger. She has somehow emerged positive and philosophical. She explains to me, “I believe we go through things for a reason, but you usually can’t see the purpose of those things until later. I can stand here and buck and cry or I can ask myself ‘how am I going to deal with this? And who can I help in the process?’”

Ros tells me that John’s disability has changed her in many positive ways. “I’ve gained patience and I’m a lot more tolerant than I used to be. I don’t lose my cool anymore. I’ve learnt to appreciate what I have. My husband and I have a deeper love and appreciation for each other now.”

Ros is also an example that it’s possible to remain generous and giving in the midst of a crisis. “If I see an opportunity to give,” she says, “I do what I can. We may not have a lot of money, but I can always help people out in small ways and with my time.” It appears to me that Ros’s generous nature has not gone unnoticed. Ros and John’s friends have been incredibly supportive of them, from mates who donate their brawn to set up karaoke equipment to random cash gifts when times have been tough. Ros tells me, “I’ve learnt to be humble enough to accept generosity and gracious enough not to offend people who are trying to help.”

Ros and John's positive, generous outlook reminds us we can all afford to be generous in our own way and within our own means, whatever our circumstances. We talk a lot about money at MyBudget, but Ros and John prove that life’s real blessings can’t be bought, sold or borrowed.

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