These apples don’t fall far from the tree

When a trip to New York City goes awry, a play on words turns things around

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by Carlos Briceño |

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I love clichés.

I love to share these small, yet overly heard nuggets of wisdom whenever I can. Who cares if they prompt an eye roll or two?

I use them to explain things so often that my entire family has come to expect it. When our dog, Baby Girl, was alive, she was so adorable that my wife, Jill, who was diagnosed with Huntington’s disease in 2018, did whatever Baby Girl demanded. When one of us caved, I never missed the opportunity to say it was because the dog saw that person as “low-hanging fruit.”

Even though each cliché is perfect — “ignorance is bliss” is the most perfect three-word sentence ever — I’d like to suggest an edit to one of my favorites: I believe there’s a better way to say “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”

I know this because Jill recently topped that cliché with one that’s 100 times better.

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Recently, Jill and I went to New York City to meet our daughter, Alexus, and son-in-law, René, for a weekend trip. Years ago, Jill said she’d love to have a chill weekend in the Big Apple, so when she heard Alexus say, “Happy early Mother’s Day, Mother,” on the phone recently, we knew she was going to plan a great weekend.

Bus and Broadway tickets were purchased; rooms were booked. Then: plot twist! About a month before the weekend, I battled a serious infection. Then Jill got bronchitis and pulled a muscle in her back.

In short, we were a bit achy and tired, the kind of tired you get when you feel like you just got off a hamster wheel. Despite our lack of energy, not going never crossed our minds. Time with family is important to us, and since Jill’s diagnosis, we’ve vowed to see our loved ones as much as we can — no matter what.

When we arrived in Manhattan on Friday afternoon, Alexus texted us to say she wasn’t feeling well. Jill told her not to feel any pressure to make the trip because we were concerned for her health, but Alexus countered by saying it was just a sinus infection, it wasn’t contagious, and they would still come to New York.

We reminded her that we’d rather she be resting at home in Boston than sick in New York. Alexus said she and René would see us the next day, on Saturday morning.

That day at brunch, Alexus was stuffy and clearly not feeling 100%. Jill and I said we’d be fine if we just hung out at their hotel room and watched TV. Alexus said she didn’t want to miss any of the plans she’d made.

Jill kissed Alexus on the head and told her not to be stubborn. “None of what is planned matters more to me than you and your health,” she said. Alexus gave her mom a look. The look stopped Jill, and I took the opportunity to share my nugget of wisdom. Knowing Jill wasn’t feeling 100% either, I said, “Well, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, does it?”

Without missing a beat, Jill looked at me — a man still suffering from the effects of an infection so serious that I was hospitalized for four days and barely had the energy to climb the subway stairs — and said, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the orchard, does it, Carlos?”

These apple references all made sense and were particularly appropriate since we were visiting the Big Apple. As it turned out, despite battling all of our recent health issues, we persevered. The weekend that Alexus planned turned out wonderfully. We ate brunch at a fabulous restaurant on the Upper West Side. We saw the Broadway musical “Wicked.” We petted cats at a cat café. We had a great dinner at a Cuban restaurant in Midtown Manhattan.

This early Mother’s Day weekend was a great gift, which makes sense, because like Jill, Alexus is an amazing person. Like her mom, she is kind, thoughtful, generous, and brilliant.

Yes, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, which is another way of me wishing all mothers reading this who’ve been positive beacons for their children, who’ve helped them become better people, who’ve loved them unconditionally, who’ve showed up for them even when it was hard, and especially for all those who love someone with Huntington’s disease or are suffering from this horrible illness, a special Mother’s Day. This especially goes to Jill’s mom, Edwina, who is the original orchard owner of the most special apple trees in the world — her daughter and granddaughter.

How do you like them apples?

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.


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