Gerald became a father through adoption over twenty years ago and has devoted his life to his four children ever since. His son Daquan and daughter, Ivy, both live with cerebral palsy and significant support needs. But no matter how much love and energy Gerald pours into his kids, they always give even more back to him.
The joy Daquan and Ivy have brought to Gerald’s life is clear from the way he talks about them. “Daquan struggles with fabulous good looks and a gentle personality,” Gerald says. “He can’t speak or sign, so he has never once talked back to me. A true Valentine’s Day baby, Daquan will steal anyone’s heart. Ivy is all Yang to Daquan’s Yin. Demanding constant, immediate, and devoted attention, Ivy always wants to be the princess. There is never a dull moment around Ivy.”
While parenting Daquan and Ivy is full of love and light, Gerald admits that it isn’t always easy. “Being a single dad to children with special needs comes with unique challenges,” he acknowledges. “I have four kids, two of whom are highly dependent on caregivers. It can be difficult to juggle their diverse needs and wants.” Fortunately, Aveanna nurses are able to help Gerald overcome some of these difficulties.
“Our Aveanna nurses usually take the lead for all of Daquan’s needs so that I can work and play with Ivy, who needs same-room supervision at all times,” Gerald shares. “Our nurses have gone along with us so that I could attend church. One has met us at the beach to provide care while we were on vacation. They have taken Daquan for stroller rides, read to him, played music for him, sung to him, and massaged his feet and legs (which he loves). They have done all of this in addition to what shows up on their list of responsibilities for each shift.”
With the nurses’ help, Gerald is able to balance the various needs of his children and continue supporting them all every single day. For Gerald, that daily support and love is what fatherhood is all about. “Parenting is all about the journey and not the product produced at age 18, or even 21 or 65,” Gerald asserts. “If producing adults who can support themselves in all aspects of life was the only standard of success for a responsible and effective parent, then I would always feel a failure. Another standard lies closer to home for me: To actively hope and look for signs that each of my children feels and thinks better about himself or herself at the end of the day than they did at the beginning, or at least not worse.”
With that goal in mind, Gerald continues to invest his all into his children. He knows it’s an investment he’ll never regret. “There is a Tibetan Buddhist meditation reflecting on what you have done that, in final hindsight, you would look back at with clear awareness that this was worth investing in,” Gerald explains. “Clearest for me, despite work I’ve done for non-profits and in social justice ministries, is providing daily compassionate care to my children. I have learned a lot along the way about myself, compassionate therapy, what it might mean to grow a healthy extended family, and what it means to live vulnerably and transparently.”
When Gerald became a father, he couldn’t have guessed the joys and challenges he would encounter along the way. But he knew it would be a beautiful and transformative journey. Today, we celebrate Gerald and all the dads who give their everything to their children. Happy Father’s Day.
If you're a nurse interested in helping families like Gerald's, you can find opportunities near you at https://jobs.aveanna.com/jobs/nursing/