As children, we often take our parents for granted, whether we mean to or not. Time goes by, stopping for no one till one day we realize we should have appreciated our parents more. But it is never too late to do that. One daughter penned a heartfelt letter to her dad on his 50th birthday reflecting on the less than flowery relationship they had as she grew up. Richie Anne Castillo's dad has Down syndrome and was bullied as a kid for having a father who was different. She took to Facebook to share with the world how much she loves and respects her father no matter what society may throw at them.
Dear, Dad. Today marks a very special and very miraculous moment of your life, she wrote. You turn 50 today and I am so blessed that you continue to live such a long and beautiful life. Doctors are still amazed by it! I know you won’t be able to read this because I don’t know if you have Facebook, but I want the whole world to know how proud I am that you are my dad. I want the whole world to know how beautiful you are inside and out. She goes on to explain how as a child she did not understand how her dad was different and called her names. I understood this later on and it made me a coward, Richie Anne said.
But you deserve more than the coward daughter that I am. You deserve love, understanding, patience, and acceptance as an individual with Down Syndrome should. Here I am composing a birthday greeting to you because I’ve never done such a thing. You deserve so much more, she wrote. It took her many years to gather the courage to accept her father and let the world know that they could no longer bully her into being ashamed of her own father. Dad, you are the strongest and the bravest human being I know, Richie Anne stated. For almost all your life, you have allowed doctors to insert needles in you, surgeries here and there, a lifetime doing dialysis, and a long list of limitations. But you seldom complain.
She wrote about how she thought it was admirable that even after all the surgeries, procedures, and nights at the hospital, he would still manage to say, "I’m not afraid because I trust in the Lord." He even managed to put a smile on his daughter's face at the end of a tough day. She went on to say, You are the bravest because you have been through so much and you never, not even once been afraid. I cannot imagine putting myself in your shoes. I have seen you at your worst when you would break down and say that you are tired. When her brave father, unable to bear the pain would cry, Richie Anne's heart would break and she said, I wish I could take your place so you wouldn’t have to feel any pain anymore.
Dad, no amount of words can sum up to how sorry I am for being an absent daughter, she continued. I’m sorry for not bringing you to the beach more often or I don’t bring you your favorite dim sum food or I don’t visit you more often than I should. If there is one thing I regret, it is hiding you from my life because I’m still the same little kid who was afraid of getting bullied. But I love you more than you could ever know, Dad and I am inspired by you always. I’m inspired at how much you love the Lord and I came to love the Lord myself and it's amazing at how incredibly intelligent you are. She also added that everyone in his life loved him no matter what and assured him, It’s okay to be different.
She concluded her emotional letter by saying, Thanks for always calling me your one and only baby girl because I always will be. I am strong and brave because of you and I love you so much, dad. I think I’m big enough now to defend myself from the bullies. Lots of love, your daughter. As a postscript she added, Missing you extra Kuya Rey (dad’s partner for more than 20 years), everyday. Hope you’re watching over your partner from up there.