In addition to being an excellent father, Garner was nominated by his brother Fred, for also helping to raise his niece & nephew
Q: What did it feel like when you became a father?
A: It was probably the best day of my life and the scariest day of my life combined. I was with my wife when she went into labor, but I haven’t seen any of my children be born. I get nervous so I can’t be there. My mom went the first time, her mother went the second time and my son went the last time. I stay in the waiting room and wait to be called in.
Q: What can you share about your children?
A: Dewayne Jr., 21, is a social butterfly, very friendly and well-rounded. He’s going to school now for biomedical engineering at Stony Brook University — State University of New York and last year was the student speaker at commencement at Onondaga Community College. The day he spoke, I was smiling from ear to ear. We had about 15 family members attend to hear him speak, and I was very proud. Dreeasia, 15, is a little reserved and still needs to come out of her shell. She is interested in dance and performing arts. And then there is the 2-year-old, Daniah. We’re still trying to see what she will be. They all have my initials, and the middle is most like me. My son is like my wife, and I think my daughters will be most like me.
Q: And what about your wife’s siblings whom you raised?
A: They are out of the house now. They lived with us since they were in grade school. There were some issues, and it was best that they stay with us. We treated them as our own. My son was the only child at the time, and everything he would have had by himself had to be split up and shared with his aunt and uncle. We didn’t come into the house with things for him and not for them. Everybody got the same amount of love, and they were our children. Everyone deserves a chance and a good future, so it was a good decision on our part. They are doing good things in life now. I wouldn’t have changed it for the world, but it was a challenge. We were young parents. We had our son in high school, and I was a high school dropout who returned to school later. Basically, we all grew together.
Q: What was your relationship like with your father?
A: It was good. He didn’t live in the same household as us. He lived in a different city and was a truck driver. He loved us, and there was no question about that, but it was a little strenuous because he wasn’t there all the time. Growing up, there were times I wished he was there, but he couldn’t be.
Q: Why are fathers important?
A: Fathers help with the social development of their children. Children are mimics. They learn by doing what they see others do. Unfortunately today, our young are mimicking the wrong things … the violence. Our young are falling to the wayside. Young men model their fathers. So it’s important that you are a good role model. And young women usually seek out guys who have characteristics of their fathers. So it’s important to be that role model in the family.
Q: As a father, is there anything you do that would surprise people?
A: Not really. Fathers do whatever they have to do to keep their kids happy. I’ll dress up if I need to with the babies. I don’t ice skate, but if they ask, I will. I try to be involved and you won’t catch me with the heels on, but I might have on nail polish.
Q: Any advice for other dads?
A: Be the father to your child that you want your father to be to you. Everyone doesn’t have the perfect dad. Some did and that’s very fortunate. But everyone knows what they want or wanted their dad to do. So just be that father you wanted your dad to be for you.
Q: What is a favorite moment you’ve shared with your family?
A: We have so many. Family vacations we take together stand out. We are tight-knit and do Sunday dinners every week. And we laugh a lot. We are always laughing. We’re a good bunch.
– Interview by Ashley Kang, The Stand director