My 60th birthday celebration reminds my wife of our age gap

Will I be able to care for Jill as her Huntington's progresses?

Carlos Briceño avatar

by Carlos Briceño |

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As my 60th birthday approaches in August, my wife, Jill, and our daughter, Alexus, have decided that we must celebrate in a special way. Because our schedules are free in mid-July, we’ll be getting together soon instead of next month.

However, instead of throwing a party, they have started planning a four-day celebration, filled with trips to a theme park, a comedy club, restaurants, a baseball game, and the theater.

Jill has been happy to organize the events, but she recently revealed a layer of worry I haven’t seen before.

As readers of this column know, my wife is battling Huntington’s disease. Despite the difficulties it brings, she faces each day with grace and determination. But the reality of me turning 60 prompted fear.

“Carlos,” Jill said, “you’re 13 years older than me. What if you’re not there when I need you the most?”

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Her words weighed on my heart. Our age difference, which has always felt insignificant in light of our love, suddenly seemed like a looming shadow. Jill’s concern isn’t just about the numbers, but also the harsh realities of her disease and the uncertainty of the future.

After she shared her fear with me, I looked deep into her eyes, seeing the now-familiar chorea that has become more pronounced over time.

“Jill,” I said, “I can’t predict the future. None of us can. But what I can promise is that I’ll be here with you for as long as I can. We will face this together, day by day, moment by moment.”

Reflection, then resolution

Despite her struggles, Jill’s been plotting and planning on the phone with Alexus, who also is gene-positive for Huntington’s. Hearing their laughter and love for each other and me fills me with a profound sense of gratitude for how they’re pouring their hearts into making this celebration special.

However, the conversation with Jill has left me contemplative. This disease’s progression is relentlessly unpredictable, and the suffering that Jill, and Alexus, will go through one day will be a heavy burden for our family. So Jill’s reminder about our age difference and my ability to be there for her in the future lingers in my mind. I know that aging can bring its own set of challenges, and the reality that I might not always be by her side is a painful thought.

But as we prepare for my 60th birthday celebration, I’m reminded of the resilience we have shown as a family. Our love has seen us through the darkest of times — my sister’s tragic death, for instance — and it will continue to be our guiding light. Each day we have together is a gift, and I am determined to cherish every moment.

I’ve also resolved that, when I blow out the candles on my cake, I will make a wish not just for myself, but for us. A wish for more time, more moments of laughter and joy, and more strength to face the challenges ahead.

Note: Huntington’s Disease News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Huntington’s Disease News or its parent company, Bionews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Huntington’s disease.


Serge avatar


I'm a caregiver 73 years old and face the same anxiety vs my own capacity for taking care of my wife, now at advanced stage of HD. I had several health alerts and feels the need for anticipating.
There are several actions possible: the first one of course is to secure that no financial issues will arise from your own eventual incapacity. Another one is to progressively build a network of support actors as nurses, caregivers. It is critical that you do not stay alone with your wife,but that she would be surrounded by benevolent people that are both referent for technical solutions/adaptation and psychological support for both of you.
keeping stimulating activities and physical exercises will keep you in best conditions vs. disease progression. you cannot stop the disease but delay negative impact.
Another aspect is that you are still quite young and neurological research explores a lot of different ideas. So keep hope!
Serge Tailliez


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