One of the most fatherly men I’ve ever known was father to no one. His name was Kermit Castellanos, and I called him K.C. He was minister at the church in Los Angeles my family went to for a time, and the story goes that whenever he sprinkled holy water on a baby for baptism, the baby gave a tiny smile. He might have been Santa Claus, too: he had a woodworking shop out of which he produced hundreds of beautiful toys and ornaments, sending them to his friends—grownups and kids—all over the world. I could go on and on … K.C. had so many qualities I’d like to nurture in myself and my kids: kindness, warmth, an easy smile, peacefulness, a wonder at the world.
This month we honor fathers everywhere by devoting most of our articles to them. Father-child can be the most difficult relationship—and the most rewarding. “Dad of My Dreams,” for example, tells the story of how one daughter connects most deeply with her dad in her dreams, and “Forgotten, But Not Gone” explores one daughter’s struggle to find peace with the ravages of age on her father. “Dad I Am” offers a single gay dad’s take on creating a family. No two fathers are exactly alike, of course, and this month’s Baby Mama hopes to open some windows on our own individual experiences.
My friend K.C. had no biological children of his own—when he died about ten years ago, his estate, including the beloved woodworking shop, went to his best friend. But I believe that when he sprinkled that holy water on me, I giggled. My own father easily wins “World’s Greatest Dad” award, but I know that K.C. was always there for me, too, in his own way.
K.C., father to everyone. I wish you’d known him.