Chapter Three - My New Life
2009, Present Day - Mom is 60, Scott is 35, I am 32
I moved to Las Vegas a year and seven months ago. About a year before that, I had moved to New York, West Babylon on Long Island, to be precise. I was at a point in my life where I wanted to find my place, away from Oregon, away from my Mom and Scott. It's not that I didn't love them or want to be close to them, but I needed to be far away for a little while. I needed to see if I could make something important out of my life. I failed miserably. I came home from New York in September 2007, but not without a plan. Normally, this kind of failure would send me into a downward spiral for a while, depressed and hopeless. But rather the opposite happened. I was motivated more than ever to get my ass to Vegas and start my life, and succeed. After about 6 months, I achieved that goal. I had earned about $7000 in that 6 months, and had made a plan, a budget, and a big wish to the universe. And nothing was gonna stop me.
Though a lot has happened for me since I moved here, in the last month my world has exploded with opportunity. I am officially the "Pumpkin Queen of Las Vegas", self-proclaimed anyway. I have started selling my "Aunt Helen's Pumpkin Bread" in two (soon to be three) stores online. One is Etsy.com, one is my very own website I made - jewelofthelion.intuitwebsites.com, and the third will be on 1000markets.com as soon as I get my shit together. I have started blogging, am writing a novel, this novel, for NaNoWriMo - National Novel Writing Month, and my social networking skills are growing every day.
Today I got an email from a woman who's dad I sent some pumpkin muffins to. The woman's daughter, Faye, actually ordered the muffins for her grandpa. When I got the order, I was instantly excited because I used to bake for my own grandpa and it was one of my favorite things to do. I got to bake for a grandpa again! I never thought it would happen.
This woman's email reduced me to tears. It said, "Hi, Julie. I wanted to let you know that Ira Shafer's pumpkin muffins arrived today. The package and its contents were all in excellent condition. The muffins are moist and tasty, and I'd recommend them to anyone. As Dad says, they're "substantial". Dad appreciated the cute packaging and enjoyed your notes almost as much as he liked the muffins. He read them aloud about four times. At 99, he's not clued in about the internet, and what etsy has become "and so forth". Thanks to you too, Faye, for your thoughtfulness. GD wondered where you get your money, and figures that Max gives it to you. Max Reeder, Peggy's dad, now deceased. He noted that you've given him a lot of attention these last years."
In a moment I was transported to my Grandpa's kitchen, baking literally hundreds of oatmeal cookies to store in the freezer until my next visit. Grandpa would take a bag of cookies out of the freezer almost on a daily basis, and he and "the dogs" would eat most all of them in a day. There were 18 cookies in each bag. It was my duty to keep his sweet-tooth appeased. And I loved it.
Since his passing, I have baked only once a year. Aunt Helen's Pumpkin Bread. It has made me happy and sad, It has made me remember, and hurt. I haven't baked an oatmeal cookie in over 5 years. I just can't, still. But pumpkin bread is different. I have shared it with so many friends and family that a different feeling has overcome me while baking now. An addicting feeling, of making people feel good, taste something amazing, and recall their own happy memories. My pumpkin bread journey is probably the happiest, most fun and exciting adventure of my life to date. And I hope to create a pumpkin bread empire one day. And I know I'm on my way.
What's on my mind, more than ever these days, is that maybe I can sell enough pumpkin bread to send Scott to the fat farm in Texas. There's this ranch there, Rancho Cortez, where people go to lose weight. It costs over $4,000 per month, and that's the discounted work-program cost. Since insurance and Medicare won't cover any program for him, and a medical treatment facility costs over $10,000 a month, this option seems like the best option. But then the problem is getting him there. He's afraid. Afraid of dying far from home. Afraid of having to change his life. Afraid of failure, again. Afraid we're going to ship him off and forget about him. Afraid to succeed, because of all the responsibility that comes with that. And I can't tranquilize a 650-pound man, throw him over my shoulder, and drop him at their doorstep. I have spent countless hours researching a solution to Scott's problem. But there isn't one. I have struggled for a very long time to keep hope alive in my heart. I am trying to move on with my life, but can't leave my brother behind. I can't turn my back on him. I can't stop fighting. I won't. I won't. I won't. I'll bake my fingers to the bone if that will make him thin. I love him.