Twenty-six years ago today, I married Brad Barghols. It was a “pinch me” moment. I couldn’t believe someone as nice and as good-looking as Brad would want to spend his life with me. The thing about courtship is that most people are on their best behavior. Some say that those best behaviors will fade away over time; that the person’s behaviors are too good to be true. Not the case with Brad Barghols. Here are a few of his life-long behaviors that I appreciate:
Suck the most out of life. Brad doesn’t sleep all that much. He’s afraid he is going to miss out on something. Me? I enjoy sleep. A lot. But being married to Brad means that vacations are for exploring. The man could run you ragged. In our early years, he would let me sleep in and explore without me. On our Maui honeymoon, he went on a whale-watching trip while I took at nap at the hotel. While exploring Alaska, I took an afternoon to relax while Brad took a stroll on the beach and saw whales, otters, and bald eagles. I quickly learned that the adventures were too cool to miss, so I tried to adjust. In our later years, we’ve tried to schedule relaxation days into our trips. That doesn’t always work. On our first trip to Europe, we planned a day to relax in Saas Fee. We splurged on a gorgeous hotel room. We arrived exhausted, but committed to a walk through town and dinner at a quaint restaurant with outdoor seating so that we could absorb more of the town. We made plans to sleep in and enjoy a leisurely morning. When I woke, I found Brad dressed, packed and wagging his tail for the next adventure! The good thing – for me – is that this sense of adventure translates to most of life for Brad. Since moving to Oklahoma, we often make Saturday morning adventures out of discovering a new breakfast restaurant followed by trips to farmers markets, gardening stores, or seasonal attractions.
Don’t look back. We have made some hefty decisions in our 26 years together. We contemplated a big move to Seattle before we were even officially engaged. Since then, we’ve considered moves to different cities, job changes, house purchases, education for our children, medical treatment and more. There’s always the opportunity for second guessing. Our marriage started with the mindset that we would always make our best decision given the current information, and then move ahead with 100% determination. No looking back. No what-ifs. I think it has served us well.
Be kind. Brad is kind. It is truly his natural state. Everyone who knows me right now will probably (hopefully) say that I am kind. But I don’t think that was always the case. When you’re around kind all of the time, it tends to rub off on you. I think that’s my case. Brad is the person who stops to help if you drop something in the airport. He holds the door for everyone. He sends hand-written thank you notes. He remembers what was going on the last time you spoke, and brings it up the next time …. was that grandbaby born?, how was your daughter’s wedding?, is your mother feeling better?, did you enjoy your trip?
Be thoughtful. Back when reading the Sunday paper was a thing, Brad read the Sunday paper with intention. Basically, he was a personal clipping service. If he saw an article on Italy and knew you were traveling to Italy next year, he would send you that article. If there was an article on vitamins and the two of you had just been talking about vitamins, he would send you the article. If there was an article about your kid, he would send it to you just so that you would have any extra copy. You get the point. On our trip to Europe in 2017, he collected a pebble/rock from every city because he knew the manager at a hotel in Tulsa (where he stays for work) would appreciate it. When we were first dating, I planned a huge sand castle event at my shopping center. It was months in the planning and weeks in the execution. It was a major milestone in my career. And when it was all said and done, Brad gave me a sand castle music box, made of real sand and looking very similar to the one I had just built – only much smaller. And this was well before Google and Amazon Prime. The sand castle is still one of my most treasured possessions.
Love is a verb. For Brad, he doesn’t just say that he loves you. He shows you. He hugs you. He holds your hand. He pats you on the back. He puts your needs first. He drops you off at the curb. He brings you a bottle of water when he’s picking you up from the airport. If you like something, he goes out of his way to find it – a particular beer, a certain brand of chocolate, the cutest puppy, your favorite ice cream, the perfect book.
You can do anything you put your mind to doing. When I was pregnant with Grayson, I wanted to wallpaper the nursery. Of course, that’s not something I could do on my own. So Brad did it with me. We took a class at Home Depot and we wallpapered that nursery to perfection – and even added a chair rail! When we bought our first home in Seattle, Brad had a vision for the backyard landscape. He took classes and researched plants, and our backyard was absolutely beautiful.
Be patient. After he retired, Brad’s father liked to show us the new roads in Branson, Missouri. The new roads. Let that thought sink in. Brad coached T-ball for Grayson – and for Cooper. Every parent enjoys T-ball the first time around because he/she doesn’t know any better. Few people repeat it with the second child! Brad taught all of our kids to drive. If that isn’t being patient, I don’t know what is. Brad taught me how to golf – which basically requires the same level of patience as teaching three children how to drive. Brad sat in the hospital with Cooper night after night after night. Some people might point out that I sat with Cooper day after day, but days are easy. Days are filled with tests and appointments and doctors rounding through the room. Nights are brutal. The silence can be deafening. And the ability to fill the silence with light-heartedness is a true gift.
Be interesting. I’ve written before about life-long learning. From Brad’s perspective, it goes along with sucking the most out of life. He’s always reading. Sometimes it’s very focused on a particular subject – God, politics, history, destinations. Other times, it is more broad. He’s a great date at dinner parties because he knows enough to engage on just about any topic. Plus, he can hold his own in a game of Trivial Pursuit or Jeopardy!
Engage with everyone. Brad has never met a stranger. He is nice to everyone. And he develops genuine relationships. He always been more than a customer at the dry cleaners. He was friendly with the cashier at the local grocery store. Suddenly, Goofy Mike was collecting Buzz Lightyear displays for my boys, playing golf with Brad and inviting us to his wedding. It doesn’t matter if the person is young or old, Brad chats with the intent of truly engaging.
Have a moral compass. Know what you believe, and why. Brad spent many years researching God, Jesus, and Christianity. I have pretty much always believed in Jesus, but Brad had to do the work and be sure. And with that comes the desire to be a good person. To him, it’s important to be a good person even when no one is looking. He believes in right and wrong. He is careful about the company he keeps. He is always happy when others succeed. He wants the best for others, even at times when his own circumstances are not ideal. His intentions are pure.
I’ve been working on this blog on and off all day. I think I could just keep going but realize that I probably need to post this blog at some point while it is still January 1st. There really are so many things about Brad that I love, but these seem to be the BIG things. He’s a good man. And after 26 years of marriage, I still can’t believe someone as nice and as good-looking as Brad wants to be married to me. But he’s mine … and I’m not letting go.
Happy Anniversary, Sweetheart!