Nobody seemed to understand Moishe Scheloo. He was sixty one years old, never married and he wasn’t wealthy. He operated a small bakery and he specialized in making bread.
Moishe would go into his shop early, five in the morning, and stay till five in the afternoon. He had no help and spent his time baking and running to the front to serve the few customers he had.
The building he operated out of was jointly owned with his Brother and Sister. Moishe was always worried that one day they would decide to sell the building and he would be outnumbered and be forced to agree to what they wanted. It ate at him every day but he never said anything because in the end his vote wouldn’t count, he’d be outnumbered two to one.
Moishe’s girlfriend was lovely. Her name was Emma Brown and she was a decent and supportive woman. The biggest problem they had was Emma lived in California and he was in a place called Richmond Hill, which was a suburb of Toronto. They had met online and had been seeing each other sporadically for ten years. Emma was divorced and had made her intentions clear that she wanted to spend her life with Moishe. He loved the idea but had worries about being able to support her in the manner she was accustomed to.
Every week, a few of Moishe’s friends would drop by to grab some bagels, or bread and shoot the breeze. They all had families and businesses and their own lives. They never understood why Moishe was still living in the house left to him and his Sister by their parents, and why he had never achieved more than just running his bakery and making a subsistence living.
What nobody seemed to understand including his Sister, Jenny, (with whom he was extremely close) was that he loved his life with a passion. When he wasn’t baking he was painting. He didn’t care if anyone ever saw his art, he just loved to let his imagination run free. When he wasn’t painting he loved to create new recipes. He baked different types of cakes during the day, and he loved the fact that he found his time baking an escape almost spiritual.
Moishe’s bakery was kosher which meant he had a defined target market. He had taken out ads to expand his customer base, but the number of people buying from him remained consistently low. There was no influx of new customers attributable to advertising. The Kosher Inspector came in once a week, looked at the ingredients Moishe was using and the equipment, gave a thumbs-up, and left. The Kosher bureau knew Moishe would never do anything untoward so he was on the trusted list.
One morning the call that Moishe didn’t want to receive came in. It was his brother, he was going to be in town and he wanted a family meeting. It was arranged at the house for six that evening.
Baruch Scheloo was a fine person and Moishe loved him with his life. He felt the same way about his sister Jenny. The family sat around the dining room table and Jenny served an amazing dinner of a greek salad followed by pasta primavera. Moishe had brought home a chocolate, cinnamon vanilla babka that they ate for dessert.
After dinner Baruch who was an Accountant looked around the table and began the discussion that would ultimately change Moishe’s life. ‘’We have an offer for the building. It comes from a reputable developer. He’s offering one point five million and is basing that on comparables in the neighbourhood. Moishe, I know this is hard for you, but Jenny and I have talked about it. We all still have taxes to pay on Mom and Dad’s estate. Jenny is ready to move to midtown Toronto and also wants to sell the house. As much as she loves you, she doesn’t want to live in the house with you and Emma. I think it’s time we liquidated everything and moved on. Look if you want to keep baking, you can rent a small space in the neighbourhood. Rent yourself a condo and you’ll be able to walk to work and you won’t have pressure. It’s a win-win situation.’’ Moishe wanted to throw up.
His Dad had always told him about the importance of having assets and he was about to be without anything. It might not have bothered Jenny or Baruch but he hated not having anything but a car and bakery equipment to call his own. He wanted to throw up.
Baruch stood up, ‘’I have to get home, Sarah and I have to go to Joe’s school tonight, he’s starring in a play. I figure you’ll get about six hundred thousand for the house. That means you’ll each have about a million dollars, minus the two hundred thousand we each have to put into the taxes. You’ll walk away clear with eight hundred thousand. I can invest the money for you and you’ll be able to live on about fifty thousand a year for the rest of your lives. Moishe you’re going to have to see what happens with Emma. If she moves here to be with you, you’re going to have to find out if she’s contributing to all the costs you’re going to incur, cause if it's just you carrying the freight, it won’t take long to run out of money. I gotta go guys, let me know what you think. I’ll talk to you during the week.’’
Baruch left and Jenny and Moishe cleaned up the dishes and sat down on chairs in the living room. ‘’Eight Hundred thousand clear isn’t bad Moishe and you can continue to bake and paint and do what you like. I don’t know how it will work out with Emma, but I know I have to move on. I don’t want to live my life with regrets. Who knows what tomorrow brings. I think I can rent a cute condo near Baruch and the kids. Any thoughts?’’
Moishe had ten gazillion thoughts going through his mind. The first one was his Dad had told him not to sell the building. It was in a good location and eventually, would be worth millions of dollars. ‘’Uh, why don’t we sell the house, use that money to rent condos and hold on to the building till it’s worth a lot more money?’’ Jenny shook her head as she was standing up. ‘’I’m sorry Moishe I don’t want to wait, I’m not getting younger. I’d like to meet someone to be a companion. I need to move forward. It’s scary but the time has come. Mom and Dad would understand.’’
Moishe read a book called ‘’Murder is no Mitzvah’’ and tried to go to sleep around ten o’clock. He had the most restless night he had experienced in years. His life was about to permanently change. It wasn’t that he wasn’t excited about exploring possibilities with Emma, it was just he was starting from scratch. He didn’t know if he even wanted to bake anymore. This was a problem as baking had been a huge part of his life. He had graduated with a degree in Mass Communications from University but didn’t look for a job when he finished school, instead, he joined his Father working at the bakery. He loved spending his days baking with his Dad. He loved every second of it and this new reality hurt almost as much as when his Father passed. They had spent so much time together talking about life and the future and now it all seemed like a dream, He was stuck, he couldn’t buy Baruch and Jenny out as he didn’t have the cash or any assets to support a loan or a mortgage. He was sixty one and facing a whole new life. It was hard.
Emma wasn’t overly enthusiastic when he shared the news about selling the building and how much his share would work out to be. ‘’We can’t get old together with that kind of money. I need a car, we need a decent place to live, we want to travel, I’m sorry Moishe, but I don’t know if I can give up my current life for the uncertainty. I don’t want to be older and have no money and end up worried about what’s going to happen to me. I can’t go through that. I was depending on you, and now I’m worried. I’m going to leave it in your hands, but please try to convince your Brother and Sister not to sell, your future depends on it. I am now also worried if we’re going to be able to make it together.’’ They wished each other goodbye, and Moishe’s heart and mind hurt.
Over the next couple of weeks, nothing happened in terms of the sale of the building, but Jenny and Baruch were resolute in wanting to make the deal happen. Moishe was still in limbo land and Emma called to encourage him every day but he had a heavy heart. There wasn’t much he could say about the future because he didn’t know how things were going to play out.
Moishe’s Dad used to say to him ‘’You gotta roll with the punches and play out all your hunches.’’ He was rolling now, but felt completely lost. It would be an only time would tell scenario and Moishe was feeling in weird limbo-land. He went to the bakery to create some new cakes and he painted when he could, but every day it felt like Damocles Sword was swinging over his head. How would things work out? He didn’t know and that was the hardest part. Life never seemed to go as expected and it was during those times that he missed his Mom and Dad more than ever. Even baking wasn’t helping him through his turmoil and deep inside that made Moishe aware that his issues were bigger than he could have ever imagined.