Paul Daugherty, a doting father, shared a beautiful tribute he wrote for his daughter, Jillian, on her wedding day. Fathers dream of the day they will be able to walk their daughters down the aisle to meet the man of their dreams; however, Daugherty noted that he feared that day would never come as his daughter was born with Down Syndrome and he felt the odds were stacked against her regarding marriage. However, the proud father says that raising Jillian put all of his fears to rest as she was naturally social and made lifelong impressions on everyone she met. Daugherty expressed his worry, love, and encouragements to his daughter in the letter which outlined his feeling leading up to the big moment he would make that walk that fathers only dream about.
Paul Daugherty chronicled raising his Down Syndrome daughter Jillian in a book titled, An Uncomplicated Life. Paul was forthcoming about his fears while raising Jillian and the stigma associated with Down Syndrome. Daugherty notes that one of his deep-seated fears was that Jillian would never experience the joy of marriage. Paul notes that he doesn’t know the specific odds of a woman getting married who was born with Down Syndrome, but notes that he knows she had beaten them.
“I don’t know what the odds are of a woman born with Down syndrome marrying the love of her life. I only know you’ve beaten them.”
In the beautiful tribute, Paul reflects on raising Jillian and all of the struggles she has overcome with her ambition, love of life, and ability to bring happiness to everyone around her. Daugherty says he was never worried about Jillian’s education, as he knew that he would do everything possible to make sure she had the necessary resources to succeed educationally. However, he says that there was one glaring area that, as a parent, he felt he had no control over and that was her social life and ability to be accepted by her peers.
“What we couldn’t do was make other kids like you. Accept you, befriend you, stand with you in the vital social arena. We thought, ‘What’s a kid’s life, if it isn’t filled with sleepovers and birthday parties and dates to the prom?’ I worried about you then. I cried deep inside on the night when you were 12 and you came downstairs to declare, ‘I don’t have any friends.'”
However, the dedicated father says he soon realized that his daughter would be okay. Paul notes that one moment in particular put his mind at complete rest.
“A decade ago, when a young man walked to our door wearing a suit and bearing a corsage made of cymbidium orchids said, ‘I’m here to take your daughter to the Homecoming, sir,’ every fear I ever had about your life being incomplete vanished.”
Paul notes that Down Syndrome did not define his daughter, she beat all of the odds and that despite being told early on that there would be things that Jillian simply couldn’t do because of the Down Syndrome, she has overcome them all.
“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.”
[Image Credit: ‘An Uncomplicated Life’/ Paul Daugherty]