My name is Paul Daugherty. My blessing, one of many, is my daughter Jillian Daugherty Mavriplis. She’s 27 and has achieved a lot: High school graduation, four years of college, full-time employment, complete independence and marriage to the love of her life, Ryan. Oh, she has Down syndrome. Almost forgot that.
We’re grateful, but also mindful of what it took for Jillian to get where she is today. Every dream begins with imagination and comes true with determination. My wife Kerry and I never doubted our daughter’s life would be as full and rich as she could make it. We gave Jillian the means to succeed, fighting for her right to be fully included in school and wholly accepted by her peers. She did the rest.
Jillian was born 10 minutes after Kerry got to the hospital. Like a watermelon seed between two fingers. When she was 5 weeks old, bronchiolitis clogged her lungs to the point that she almost died of suffocation. Nine days into her hospital stay, a nurse poked Jillian in the head with yet another needle. Our daughter became so enraged, she let out a wail heard across town. The force of the scream knocked the mucous from her airways. Knocked the snot outta her, you might say. This was a young lady who would be heard from. We left the hospital the next day.
Jillian’s ambition and love of life was equal to the challenges we placed before her. None of our prodding (and warfare in school conference rooms) would have worked without Jillian’s fearless determination.
We allowed her to define herself. As they say on the TV show Born This Way, we didn’t limit her. We still don’t.
I cannot tell you the joy and the wisdom she has brought to our lives. Our family members are better people for knowing her. The world is a better place. I doubt I’m telling you anything you haven’t experienced yourselves, with your own children.
I wrote a memoir about raising Jillian. An Uncomplicated Life is available in hardback, paperback, Kindle and audio, on Amazon. You can also order it on my website about Jillian, pdaugherty.com. Please visit the site. We try to update at least once a week, with uplifting stuff that’ll make you smile.
Thank you so much for welcoming me and my family to your blog. As always,
Expect. Don’t Accept.