Posted by Courtenay Harris, Christopher's Bakery on August 17, 2017
We've been traveling around the Dallas-Fort Worth area a lot recently to sell our Vanilla Wafer Cake and introduce other products. In truth, we've been doing it out of necessity. Summers in Dallas can be awful. It can easily get to 110 degrees and standing outside for hours at a time isn't exactly my idea of fun. But when money gets tight, things have to be done - even if they're uncomfortable. I know all about that. My father - the man who created our Vanilla Wafer Cake - has singlehandedly made the phrase "You've gotta do what you gotta do" into a cliche. Growing up with an epileptic brother who spent months at a time in the hospital necessitated that mindset. My father would often work multiple jobs because in the 1990's, Christopher was uninsurable. I'm sure, like me, my father didn't always enjoy doing what had to be done, but I got a strong reminder last weekend of WHY I'm doing what I'm doing.
Last Sunday afternoon, I was at Irving's Heritage Crossing Farmer's Market when a family walked up. They all sampled our Vanilla Wafer Cake and ended up buying multiple slices of both that and our Pound Cake. After their purchase, the child and her parents walked away, but her grandmother stayed. She spoke to me about her brother. You see, like my brother, he died young - 14 to be exact. He, too, was born unhealthy. He, too, was diagnosed as mentally retarded. Most importantly, he too, was the happiest person she knew. We stood there for several minutes and I listened to her speak in the sweltering heat. I heard her voice crack as she remembered hearing her brother ask her mother, "Mommy, do you think I'll live to be 19?" It pained me. We both identified with siblings who lived the only way they knew how - with their conditions. She followed that by telling me how her brother carried himself as if he wasn't sick, only living to make himself and others happy. I told her of Christopher's funeral - the one attended by hundreds of people - most of whom knew Christopher's smile and laugh. By the end of the conversation, we both had tears in our eyes. They weren't all sad tears. We finished the conversation ruminating on the idea of complaining. We both watched siblings go in and out of the hospital. They suffered painful lives that were ultimately cut short. They were robbed of full lives, yet seemed to be at peace. What they endured would be enough to break any man or woman.
If they didn't complain. Why should we?
I realized there's power in telling Christopher's story. For many people, it can be cathartic. It can help put things in perspective. It gives meaning to what Christopher's Bakery is doing. It can change the lives of those battling epilepsy right now.
I thought I was going to local farmers markets because I needed money. I ended up remembering why our name is Christopher's Bakery.