The Power of a Smile and Kind Words

Carlos Briceño avatar

by Carlos Briceño |

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I recently shared with my wife, Jill, a saying I read in a store: “A smile and some kind words can really change someone’s day.” Jill smiled and said she knew the power of that saying because she had witnessed it years ago.

The story she told me unfolded during a trip to the grocery store almost 20 years ago, before I’d met her.

Jill entered the store with her father, Ken, and her daughter, Alexus, who was 7 at the time. At one point, Alexus and her grandfather, who’d been diagnosed with Huntington’s disease three years before Alexus was born, split away from Jill to pick up his prescriptions at the pharmacy while Jill shopped.

(No one in Jill’s family knew at the time that Jill and Alexus would one day be diagnosed with Huntington’s disease, too.)

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At the pharmacy, the clerk informed Ken that one of his prescriptions was not covered by insurance and would cost $400. His mental state had been declining for years, so when presented with the option to buy the medication, he did.

Some people with Huntington’s can act impulsively, such as spending money recklessly. Their decision-making skills will often decline as the disease progresses.

Alexus was old enough to understand that $400 was a lot of money. She didn’t say anything when he paid the bill, but she told her mother when they reunited in the store.

Jill panicked. That wasn’t an amount that she, as a single mother, or her parents could afford. She also knew from her days as a pharmacy technician that once pills leave the pharmacy, they can’t be returned.

Once Jill calmed down, she realized they would just have to accept that they were now $400 poorer. Alexus saw her mother’s face and knew what had happened was not good, and she started to feel guilty for not stopping her grandfather. Jill told her that everything would be OK, and it wasn’t her fault. They resumed shopping.

Jill didn’t realize it, but Alexus was figuring out a solution.

As soon as they were in an aisle near the pharmacy, Alexus grabbed the prescription bag, marched up to the counter, and asked if she could speak with the pharmacist.

Jill saw them talking but didn’t know what it was about until the pharmacist waved her over. As Jill approached the counter, she noticed there was a receipt on it. The pharmacist told her she needed to sign the receipt, which was for a refund.

Jill was astounded. She asked the pharmacist why she was doing this. The woman replied, “Your daughter asked me to.” Jill couldn’t believe what she had just heard.

The pharmacist told her that every time Alexus was in the pharmacy, standing next to her grandfather, she would smile and compliment everyone working there. The pharmacist said that Alexus’ sweet comments and innocent smile were the highlight of the week for the staff.

Jill knew how wonderful her daughter was, but hearing that made her cry. She told me she remembered how stressful it was to work at a pharmacy and how meaningful it was when people were kind, which, sadly, was not often.

Since that day, Jill has always been quick to compliment people because sometimes, a smile and some kind words can change someone’s day.

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.


Bonnie Cordova avatar

Bonnie Cordova

It's a lovely story.

Carlos Briceño avatar

Carlos Briceño

Thank you Bonnie!


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