Tribute to Brad

Today would have been my brother-in-law Brad’s 57th birthday. He died a couple of months after his 40th birthday, way too early. Back then, red ribbons were as ubiquitous as pink ribbons are today (although no one thought to plaster them on everything from water bottles to trash bins, or to develop a perfume). He died shortly before the drugs got better and what was formerly a death sentence became a chronic illness. And so it goes.

He was a stunning man. He had dark hair, dark eyes, and huge Bambi eyelashes women would kill for. When we were in high school, all the girls had a crush on him. When he moved to San Francisco in the ’70s, his friend Gina recalled how he looked in leather pants and a flowing white shirt. Forever after, he would be her pirate.

Brad escaped Nebraska and led what most  of us would consider a glamorous life. He was a booking agent for models in San Francisco and later Los Angeles. He was best buddies with Carrie Otis when she was a model, and was her date at Vogue’s 100th birthday party. I have the Entertainment Tonight film clip of them walking into the party, and the commemorative T-shirt.

He encouraged me to be more daring in my dress, something I’m still learning to take him up on. He gave me a flowing pleated cowboy tunic for my 36th birthday and I’m wearing it more now, 19 years later, than I did in my timid 30s. I wore it to my book launch party in his honor and wished he could be there, like I always do when anything fun is happening.

He had a deliciously snarky sense of humor. He used to threaten to move back to Nebraska and open a bad perm shop. Once we were sitting at an intersection in Lincoln, Neb., and he caught sight of a woman in a station wagon. He said, “I speak her language.” Next thing we knew, he had rolled down the window and yelled “Meatloaf! Jell-O salad!”

And yet he was kind. I got to see him in action once, when he was a guest of a modeling school ceremony in Omaha. This wasn’t the big well-known school he usually visited, which has produced international-caliber models, but a smaller, far humbler school. Many of the students were the visual equivalent of the tone-deaf auditioners on American Idol, pudgy farm kids with big dreams. His standard comment for all of them as they handed over their portfolios was, “You could do commercial work.”

I would share a picture with you but I just realized I don’t have one. All the pictures we have of Brad predate digital. I will scan one or two and share them later.

Happy birthday, Brad. I will love and miss you always.


11 thoughts on “Tribute to Brad

  1. Lovely tribute Jacks. I hope you do post a pic of Brad, and also one of you in your cowboy tunic please! And who doesn’t love meatloaf??? I think I’d fit right into Nebraska if that’s the state dish although I might find the winters a bit tough.

    • Anna, thank you so much! Yes, I will post some pictures soon. You know, you just reminded me I think you had a meatloaf recipe out there somewhere–I’ll have to track it down.

      Yes, the winters here can be awful but my home state of North Dakota is way worse. I moved south to balmy Omaha ; )


  2. Brad was born just a few months before me. I cannot imagine not having lived the past seventeen years. What a heartbreaking loss for those of you who loved him. My husband died at 40 too, although from something different. In the end I am not sure it matters how, because gone is gone. So sad.

    This is a beautiful tribute to Brad. I’ll bet he is grinning down at you. 🙂 Thank you for letting us have a glimpse of him.

  3. Oh Marie, it’s so good to hear from you and I’m so sorry you went through this too. I don’t think it does matter how they leave us because no matter what takes them, it sucks, they are gone and we miss them. I apologize for not stopping by your blog lately. Anyone reading this–Marie is a great writer and her blog is at Nourish: Living, Laughing Whining–it’s on my blogroll. Big xox to you!

    • Oh, sweetie, no need to apologize!! Time just zooms by. There are so many blogs I love and don’t keep up with because the days go so quickly. But half the fun is catching up. 🙂

      Thanks for the lovely plug! xoxo

  4. Jackie,

    This is a poignant post about a very special person. Brad sounds like he was wonderful, and he will always be in your heart forever.

    Yes, please scan in a picture or two. I would love to see him.

  5. Thanks for this heart felt post, Jackie. Loss is always hard and the grieving never completely ends does it? Brad sounds like he was an amazing person and I had to laugh about those eye lashes to die for! Thanks for sharing and photos sometimes would be great. This was a nice tribute.

  6. Oh jackie, how well you brought Brad to life! I love the pirate description. What a sad loss for your family and for Brad’s friends and well for everyone..I do hope you get to scan a pic of him..I am so intrigued to see him now.

  7. Pingback: Weekly Round Up « Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer

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