Paul Daugherty was definitely feeling proud of his daughter along with those traditional emotional pangs most fathers feel when preparing to walk their little girl down the aisle to her future husband. And while it's a huge rite of passage for any father, it was particularly so for Daugherty, because his beautiful 25-year-old daughter, Jillian, has Down syndrome.
As such, her life, and his as a parent, have not been the easiest, but her strength and their love as a family carried her over many obstacles and brought them to this wonderful day of celebration. He told She Knows, "She did everything that everybody else does, it just took her a while longer." Paul had a lot to be thankful for on the day of his daughter's wedding. Thankfully, besides being a wonderful father, he's also a professional writer, so he was able to put his sentiments down on paper a couple months after he and his daughter took that fateful walk.
Paul has been a sports writer for the Cincinnati Enquirer for many years and recently wrote a book about raising his daughter Jillian, called An Uncomplicated Life. The book in and of itself is a letter of love to his daughter, chronicling her life from birth to today and expounding on how she overcame every challenge put in her path. It's clear he learned as much from her as she from him as she grew up.
While there was more than enough to fill a book, Paul felt there was a little more that needed to be said about her wedding day. He decided to write her a special tribute, which, while brief, is one of the most moving expressions of love I've ever read. Here are a few choice excerpts from it:
"I am outside, beneath the window, staring up. We live for moments such as these, when hopes and dreams intersect at a sweet spot in time. When everything we’ve always imagined arrives and assumes a perfect clarity. Bliss is possible. I know this now, standing beneath that window...
...We all wish the same things for our children. Health, happiness and a keen ability to engage and enjoy the world are not only the province of typical kids. Their pursuit is every child’s birthright. I worried about your pursuit, Jillian.
I shouldn’t have. You’re a natural when it comes to socializing. They called you The Mayor in elementary school, for your ability to engage everyone. You danced on the junior varsity dance team in high school. You spent four years attending college classes and made lifelong impressions on everyone you met.
Do you remember all the stuff they said you’d never do, Jills? You wouldn’t ride a two-wheeler or play sports. You wouldn’t go to college. You certainly wouldn’t get married. Now… look at you."
Thanks to the power of the Internet, it's reaching many parents who have children with disabilities, making them realize that good days ahead are possible. Paul has already received many thankful letters from parents of children with disabilities.
"People who have kids with disabilities especially when they’re first born, all they really want is for someone to tell them it’s going to be okay," he said. "I want people to have the hope that we did not."
I think it's safe to say this genuine letter of love will inspire just that.
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