Father’s Day is a tricky holiday, isn’t it? I mean, Mother’s Day has a sort of set “script” to it, but Father’s Day is a little less defined, especially if your dad is not the backyard-grill type of dad.

Mine is not. I don’t know that the man ever touched a grill in his life.

In his active parenting days, my dad was more given to tweed jackets and pipe tobacco. Not pipe smoking. We daughters knew the secret to a good Christmas or birthday was to sew up a bunch of sachet pouches filled with the stuff so he could stuff his jacket pockets and dresser drawers.

My dad is a man of fountain pens and ink, of cameras and film. Dad had a special set of storm windows he painted black. With those in place, and a red light clamped to the curtain rod, the downstairs bathroom became a darkroom from time to time.

When it comes to photography, dad has one of the best eyes I’ve ever seen. An awful lot of my youth was spent elbow deep in a tray of toxic developer liquid.

Dad is a man of design and maps, of architecture, trains, cars and travel, of good books and classical music.

All of these things are part of who my father is, but they’re not the most important. To get at that is trickier.

I might have shared this tidbit with you before, if so bear with me. It’s totally appropriate since repeating stories, the same stories, over and over is also a part of who my father is.

When I was little, I went to my dad with something I had read I didn’t agree with. This felt like kind of a big deal because my dad was, and is, a minister – and the book in question was the Bible. The church was his livelihood. We lived in the parsonage. I thought it might not go well.

What actually happened was this: My father looked at me and said “That book was written over 2,000 years ago and it was written by a bunch of men with their own issues. It has been translated, and mistranslated who knows how many times. I’ll break it down for you:

“Be kind. And that’s not so easy as it sounds.”

That last part was key.

Like most kind, compassionate, creative, and curious people, there was a price to be paid. There were demons to be wrestled with. Always, however, the call to actively practice kindness towards others was his core motivation.

Or was it?

Dad, I think, never felt called to “see the best” in someone. It’s more that he simply saw them as they are, and found them beautiful.

So this Father’s Day I am giving thanks for my dad, and for the ways in which I see him crop up in his grandkids. I give thanks to all the dads out there doing their level best, with or without grilling skills. I give thanks for all the dads who, despite being busy, despite being worried about all the adult cares of this life, take time to see their kids for who they are – and find them beautiful.

Nice job, dads.

Brunswick resident Heather D. Martin wants to know what’s on your mind; email her at [email protected].