Richie Anne Castillo, the daughter of a man with down syndrome, grew up getting bullied at school because others saw her father as “different.“
On Sunday, marking her dad’s 50th birthday, Richie took to Facebook to express how she has been proud of him all those years when other people’s prejudice had “made her a coward.”
“I want the whole world to know how beautiful you are inside and out,” she opened in her heartfelt open letter.
“Dad, it took me so many years before I gathered enough courage to face everyone because not all may know the whole truth because it is quite confusing. Back in grade school, I would be picked on and bullied because they said you were different. As a kid I didn’t see you as different, I saw you as my dad. I didn’t understand why they were making fun of me and calling me abnormal. I understood this later on and it made me a coward. But you deserve more than the coward daughter that I am. You deserve love, understanding, patience, and acceptance as any 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.”
Richie detailed her dad’s courage and strength as he underwent so many medical procedures over the years. She revealed that her dad could still manage a smile on his face even after spending countless nights in the hospital.
“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.”
Richie admits that she couldn’t help but cry on some days because it pained her to see her dad go through all of this.
“I have seen you at your worst when you would break down and say that you are tired. Hearing those words ‘Kapoy na. (I’m tired)” or “Sakit kaayo. (It really hurts)’ made me cry for days and I couldn’t bear going back to the hospital anymore. I have seen you cry because your knee would hurt cause of the fluid. I can’t feel your pain but how I wish I could take your place so you wouldn’t have to feel any pain anymore.”
She expressed regret that she was not able to be more available for him in the past.
“Dad, no amount of words can sum up to how sorry I am for being an absent daughter. I’m sorry for not bringing you to the beach more often or I don’t bring you your favorite dimsum 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.”
“Everyone adores you and you know that. You could always put a smile and a laugh on everyone’s faces. You annoy people a lot too but we love you anyways. I understand that you have good days and bad days. You can be mean at times and you push everyone away, including me. But that’s just you and it’s okay. It’s okay to be different.”
According to Richie, she’s now brave and strong because of her dad.
“I could go on and on talking about you but it would be too long. Happy 50th birthday, Daddy! 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.”
Richie’s post, which has touched many netizens in the Philippines, has generated over 200,000 reactions and has been shared over 66,000 times as of press time.
Featured image via Facebook/Richie Anne Castillo