Patricia Fernandez Recognized as Caregiver of the Month

Patricia Fernandez and her husband, Jim, are the parents of 53-year-old David, who, in addition to being developmentally disabled, contracted an illness nearly a decade ago that left him in a wheelchair. For her undying devotion to her son, Patricia was recently recognized for a lifetime of round-the-clock care of David at a luncheon organized by the Christopher Smith Foundation.

“David has been severely developmentally disabled since he was a child, and a diagnosis was never reached for that,” Patricia says. “Then, when he was 44, he got pneumonia and sinusitis, which went to his brain and paralyzed his right side. Before he got sick he could get himself to the bathroom, he would empty the dishwasher for me in the morning, but once he got into the wheelchair that all changed.”

Patricia and her mother cared for David for years, but since her mother passed away, she and Jim, now retired, share the caretaker duties for their son.

“My mother and I did it together because my husband worked a lot,” Patricia shares. “When Jim was working I would always get up early with David, but now Jim gets up early and later I take over, that way we both get some respite. We kind of trade off when it comes to caring for what David needs.”

She said that, although she and Jim are getting older, they continue to do the best they can for David because that’s just what parents do.

“When we lived in California, David bowled in Special Olympics and he loved it. And before he got sick, we had him at Opportunity Village and it was fantastic,” She adds. “Now he’s getting older and there are things he can’t do, like stand in the shower anymore. But he’s our child and we do everything we can for him.”

Trying to get Patricia to take any kind of credit for her dedication to her son is practically impossible. But she’s quick to give credit to others who help people with disabilities.

“God love Linda Smith for all the work she’s done for people like David,” Patricia says. “I’m so grateful for the people who would never work in any other capacity, who really love what they do for people with disabilities.”