Richie Anne Castillo is a young lady from Cebu City in the Philippines.
Recently on June 2, she wrote a birthday message on Facebook dedicated to her father, who has Down syndrome.
The post has since gathered a staggering 63,000 shares and 6,400 comments.
A long and beautiful life
Castillo starts by commemorating what a "long and beautiful life" her father has led -- something that continues to amaze the doctors.
And despite a lifetime of dialysis, multiple surgeries and medical procedures, he continues to smile and remain optimistic, saying, "I’m not afraid because I trust in the Lord".
Of her father's courage, Castillo writes,
"You always put a smile on your face after a long day at the dialysis center, or after a hypoglycemic episode. 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."
But even he has his bad days.
Sometimes, Castillo's father would break down, saying "I’m tired" or "It really hurts". Other times, he might cry because his knees hurt from the excess fluid.
Growing up with a "different father"
Besides her father's grit and positivity, however, Castillo's writing also reflects what is was like to grow up with a father who is "different".
When she was younger, Castillo would get picked on by her schoolmates, who called her "abnormal" because of her father.
At first, she didn't understand the bullying:
"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."
Later on, when she realised that it was due to her father's Down syndrome, Castillo hid her father from her life to prevent getting picked on.
She describes herself as a "coward" then, saying that her father deserves only all the "love, understanding, patience, and acceptance" that any Down syndrome patient does.
She then apologises for being an "absent daughter":
"I’m sorry for not bringing you to the beach more often or I don’t bring you your favourite dim sum food or I don’t visit you more often than I should."
At the end of her post, Castillo points out that even though he can be mean at times and push everyone away, it's okay.
You can read her post in full here:
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