A Definite Candidate for Father of the Year

Kitchener, Canada–JD, a reader, sent me this touching story of an admirable dad who, pardon the pun, “goes the distance” for his little son. According to DRIVEN; Two-year-old Pauly needs constant care to keep him alive. His father, a transport truck driver, has no choice but to take him on the road (The Record, 6/5/08):

The cab of Paul Goncalves’ truck looks more
like a hospital room than the helm of a mighty 18-wheeler. It even caught the attention of Montreal police earlier this week, as Goncalves, a transport-truck driver who lives in Kitchener, made his way through Quebec. Goncalves says he has no choice: It’s the only way he can keep a close eye on the toddler at the end of a length of intravenous tubing and a bag of life-saving solution. “I’ll tell you, life has been so miserable,” Goncalves said Tuesday after carefully dressing a shunt that drains liquid from the brain of his constant passenger — his two-year-old son, Pauly. Pauly was born with hydrocephalus, an accumulation of spinal fluid on the brain. Doctors recently removed a brain cyst. In his short life, Pauly has had five brain operations. But there’s no structure at home to provide the intensive care that Pauly needs, and Goncalves hasn’t yet been able to find help within the social-service safety net. Goncalves’s wife, Cesia, has severe depression. He has a 15-year-old son and a 20-year-old daughter from a previous marriage who live with him in Kitchener. He has no other family in the area. Goncalves believes Pauly’s health issues brought on by his wife’s depression. Last month, both Pauly and Cesia were hospitalized at the same time. So when Goncalves hits the highway to earn the income on which his family depends, Pauly goes with him. Goncalves’s situation gained national attention Monday in Montreal. He was injecting his son with an antibiotic to fight infection after his latest surgery, when the intravenous bag burst. Pauly was fine, but Goncalves called emergency services for help. “They didn’t like the scenario — it’s a little graphic,” Goncalves said. Montreal police called social services, who came to investigate. Local media also arrived, interested in Goncalves’s bizarre situation. Social services concluded they had no legal right to take Pauly away. Goncalves had done nothing wrong. “They told me, ‘You should be proud of yourself,’ ” Goncalves said. “That was a big boost.” Goncalves was afraid the news would anger his employer, Canadian-American Transport. They didn’t know he had been bringing his son on runs. “I said, ‘I need this job, but my son comes first.’ ” Although Goncalves suspects the company doesn’t like it, they told him they can’t stop him because he owns the truck. “That was a bit of a relief. Now I know I can do it.” Still, changing diapers and intravenous bags on hauls across North America is tough. “The problem is, I can’t stop working. I’m falling a little behind in my bills.” And it’s hardly the life he’d imagined for his son. “I just want him to be a normal kid….That keeps me going.”

Read the full article here. I salute reporter April Robinson for the story–her email is

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