Forced Family Time

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by Carlos Briceño |

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telemedicine, positivity, religious beliefs, scooby-doo, empty nesters, food, involved, walk, caregiver, denial, family, love, hugs, realities, family time, courage
My wife, Jill, and I live in Illinois, where the governor has declared a stay-at-home order for our entire state. It’s been weeks now. He also suggests canceling summer events and has decided that children will not return to school for the remainder of the academic year. We are all now basically stuck in our homes with only immediate family to keep us company for who knows how long. 

Many of us are used to being so busy that we don’t have time to think, let alone spend quality time with our loved ones. But now we have no choice. Running to the mall, attending sporting events, and even grocery shopping are things of the past, thanks to delivery services like Instacart. So now what do we do? Before many of us is an opportunity that we never seemed to have in the past: The chance to get to know our family members. The chance to find out that we were once merely coexisting with one another but that we can now make the changes needed to be a strong family unit.

Jill learned all of this long before the pandemic. She knew the preciousness of spending time together because of the possibility that she might not have the luxury of time in her future. She learned that Huntington’s can take your life if you let it. It can steal years from your life, so you have to live it up while you can. And by living it up, I mean spending time with the people held dear.

When Alexus, our daughter, was little, Jill would often spend the evening doing activities with her. She’d delay things like catching up on work or doing housework until after Alexus went to bed — often late at night. If Alexus asked her to do something, like play a game, she would play it; if Alexus wanted to sit and read, that’s what they would do.

As Alexus grew older, she started playing games geared toward older children, such as Sorry! and Uno. Some of my favorite memories with Jill and Alexus are from sitting around the table playing games. You have to understand one thing about my family: they don’t like to lose. So, if I was winning, it was not uncommon to receive “death threats” from one or both of them.

This explains why we don’t play the board game, Monopoly, with other people. One time Alexus brought a friend home and we decided to all play a game together. Her friend asked if we could play Monopoly. Alexus shouted to put the game back and to pick another one. Her friend was confused as to why we couldn’t play that game. Without saying a word, Alexus texted her Uncle Scott — Jill’s older brother — with a simple question: “Should I let my mom play Monopoly with my friend?” His response is still something I laugh about today: “Not if he values his life. Your mother is a Park Place slumlord and a railroad sociopath.”

Her friend chose a different game and left our house alive. Although they are extremely competitive, Jill and Alexus understand that, win or lose, we have spent time together that we will cherish forever. We have hope for a Huntington’s cure, but for now, we act like today is all we have. We hope everyone is learning this same valuable lesson.


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