Every Father’s Day, I find myself thinking about the gifts I was given by my dad and the gifts I can give my family, particularly my five-year-old daughter, Emily.
Like many in his generation, my dad started smoking in his teens. He tried to quit numerous times. Nothing worked. It led to severe heart disease, several heart attacks and eventually a heart transplant. It’s what eventually killed him.
Even though I don’t smoke, we have a strong family history of heart disease. Given that family history, I took a cardiac stress test for my birthday last year. I have also been walking more, starting with a goal of 7,500 steps a day. I am motivated to take care of my health because I want to be here for my daughter. There’s so much of her life I want to experience with her.
Before he died, my father prepared a will and advanced medical directive, and explained how we can access his finances. Learning from him, my wife and I prepared our own wills and advanced medical directives, but I worry about how she will handle our finances if something happens to me. I need to follow my father’s lead and organize all of our accounts, online banking passwords, etc.
Financial education was paramount to my dad and we both saw the importance of early learning. I still remember when he bought an encyclopedia set (The New Book of Knowledge) when I was around Emily’s age. Years later, I remember pouring through each of the volumes for fun when I was just a few years older then Emily. The encyclopedia set nurtured both my love of reading and my love of learning.
We are actively trying to pass on that love of reading and learning to Emily, by reading to her several times a day. It's been incredible to watch her learn to write and read on her own. The first word she could read was “Wesleyan” which she saw on several sweatshirts and coffee mugs at home. (My wife and I both went to Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut.)
Here are three gifts you can give your family to make Father's Day truly special for the people you care about:
- Take care of your health and encourage those around you to get the help they need. If you don't have access to health insurance, call 2-1-1 to help get enrolled.
- Prepare a will and advanced medical directive, and organize your financial information.
- Read to your child. Go to a Library. Help them see that learning can be fun.
This Father’s Day, reach out to the fathers or father figures in your life. Thank them for the gifts they’ve given you over the years. After you do that, consider giving your family one of the gifts mentioned above. Any of those gifts will last forever.