I was going to title this post “Dads are awesome,” but decided against it for three reasons: 1.) Not all dads are awesome. Some are awful, and it’s a shame; 2.) I have never once in my life called my father “Dad,” so it would be weird to go on talking about him with the word “Dad” attached, because that isn’t his name; 3.) This post is about MY father, who IS awesome.

First off, some clarification of nomenclature: my father is “Papa.” He was “Papito” when I was very small, and then “Papi” for a brief while when I got a little older, but for most of my life he has been Papa. None of this “Dad” or “Daddy” business for Rick K.

Growing up, I went back and forth between thinking my father knew everything and thinking that he was a tremendous dork, but adulthood has given me some perspective into his extraordinary life and how *actually* cool he is. After graduating from university in 1978 during a previous “great recession,” he applied for a job at a salt warehouse. When that didn’t pan out, he joined the Peace Corps–something for which he, as a fluent speaker of Spanish, was actually somewhat qualified to do. He was shipped out to rural El Salvador, where he installed dry pit latrines, contracted hookworm, and fell in love with a beautiful and ballsy young teacher. When the volunteers were pulled out of the country in early 1980 due to rapidly escalating political tensions, my father (then barely 23 years old, a full year younger than I am now) got legal paperwork together to make the Salvadoran teacher his wife. Then, he went back into the warzone to marry and retrieve her. My mother.

My father spent the entirety of my childhood working full time (first as a municipal affairs reporter, then as an addictions counselor, then for the last 20 years as an educational psychologist) in addition to either pursuing a degree (he has completed both a Master’s and PhD in my lifetime, both while also working 40+ hour weeks and co-raising us kids) or teaching university classes. He’s a guy who has stuck to his guns and cultivated his passions to make a real impact on his family and community while also making my brothers and I feel valued, respected, and loved. I can’t think of anything more heroic, and I look up to him tremendously.

Big Rick shows Little Rick his new toy

Happy Father’s Day, you big lug!