November 15, 2003

Jill Yaconelli

jillIt is impossible for me to share with you today how amazing my father was. For a man that could mold words into love and grace, I am left wordless in describing a father full of both. Maybe in a tear I will feel the comfort of his love, but to share it, is only to cry. Maybe in a smile from my nephew I will see a shot of his joy, but to express that is only to laugh. Maybe in a space between conversations I will sense his gaze, but to describe it is to be silent. But to sum up a father like my father, is again, impossible.

What I can do is tell you of an unusual father. A father that would have been disappointed if I ever stopped playing rather than ever saying "grow up, or act your age." A father that would have been disappointed if I didn't take time off from school to play in the world, saying, "don't ever let school get in the way of your education." A father that loved to hear stories of practical jokes you played on your friends, or about a recent creative date, or a wild birthday party, more than any work achievements. I of course am thankful for the obvious things, or the usual things in a dad, for knowing how much he loved me, and how proud he was of me. But I am most thankful for how much he loved to watch me play.

I recently spent a week with my dad and others in Hawaii. I spent one evening playing in the ocean, jumping in the waves with my arms outstretched in the air, palms open to the orange barely sunlit sky, yelling as I would slice through each wave like no one else could hear me. Unbeknownst to me, my father was on a hill nearby, watching me play in the ocean like I did when I was 7. When I came back to the house, my dad had the biggest grin on his face. "Jill", he said with a tone that would make me melt into daddy's girl even at 29, "it has been so much fun watching you for the past hour." He laughed with an honest present joy, and continued to have the biggest grin on his face. "What were you doing?" He asked me as if there were an answer. "Nothing dad, Just Playing." This time he paused with a smile like he had reached the end of parenting. He had succeeded in teaching me the most important part of life, to live like a child, to love life freely, and to neverů everů.stop playing. I was just having fun, playing in the waves as the sun set, clueless to anyone else. But man was I glad my dad was watching me.

It is impossible to sum up my dad in 2 minutes, but that is part of being an unusual father. Thank you dad for watching me live life to the fullest, teaching me how to play, and being the kind of dad that no words, even your made up words, can describe.