Norman Jarvis Keesal October 5, 1927 - July 23, 2013

Norman Jarvis Keesal
October 5, 1927 – July 23, 2013

My father died. In my mother’s arms. In front of me.

He coughed blood and the aneurysm on his infected aorta ruptured. His eyes rolled in his head and his body convulsed. I screamed GET A DOCTOR! and they came running, but my Mom’s best friend of 54 years, my Dad, was already gone.

Mom and Dad Wedding

My mother and I reached for each other, hearts clanging, wildly alive. You are amazing. We washed his blood off her fingers. My husband and I embraced, crying love.


When my father was sick and the doctors and nurses searched his tired body for clues, it hit me that they had no idea who they were trying to save. That he was a world-class professor and friend, that his parents were deaf, he hailed from Chicago, aced Harvard and gave the best hugs.

Harvard Graduation

After he died, I told everyone, he was a great Dad, and opened my arms. My father held me my whole life. After they cleaned up his body, I went back to thank him again.


My father died. My father died and I felt an oceanic shift. Our love could no longer be shared over the table at our weekly lunch, through email or the secret language of signs. My heart did not break, my friends, it grew. I felt a soaring strength rush in. The calm of his nature, the weight of a mountain, the certainty of love. My Dad, in me.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Thank you, Daddy. Thank you. 


If you’d like to know more about my American Dad, read Part 2:  A Family Tree.


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