On this my 61st birthday, I would like to give you the gift of sharing something of my parents with you. I am such a fortunate man to have had Vernon and Charlotte for my parents. Their example of how to live in the world, how to treat others, how to make one’s way through life’s challenges, and how to raise their children, my 2 bothers and 2 sisters, to become solid and decent human beings, remains to this day the firm ground beneath my feet. My father was a success through his own will and determination. Nothing was given to him to make his life easy. When he was 12 his father died, and my father started working hard at little fruit stand in Kansas City, Kansas to make money for himself and his mother. She ran a boarding house to make ends meet. My father remained with the little fruit stand for 60 years, as it decade by decade turned into a major supermarket chain in the Midwest. When he retired, he was a vice president. My father showed me that you could be successful without having to cut others down or betray them. He earned his success by very hard work, honest living, enduring great hardship, and through loyalty to his company and family. He was a fair and just man. In honor of his sense of justice, I named my first son Justin. My father passed away in 2008 at the age of 93. He still had his sharp mind, and his attitude of honor and respect for all people around him, from all walks of life, never faded.
My mother was the intellectual, artistic one. She gave her children a sense of humanity. In her home, racial slurs or putting other religions and cultures down was never heard. She came from a poor Irish- American Catholic family. Her mother died when she was 1 year old, and she was raised by her paternal grandparents until her father remarried. When she was a little girl, other kids from nicer neighborhoods would spit on her as she walked to school because she was poor and Catholic. This experience and other suffering as a child and young woman made her a deep, strong and kind mother. She loved literature and writing. When all of her 5 children were raised, my mother went back to school. She graduated from college when she was 70 years old. She passed away on her birthday, Christmas Eve 1990. She used to tell me when I was a little boy, “I’ll always be with you on Christmas Eve.” She has kept true to her word.
I am so very fortunate, so incredibly blessed that Vernon and Charlotte were my parents. On this, my birthday, September 22, 2010, I am happy to share something of them with you. I love my parents, and I understand now what they tried to show me by their example and guidance, which I often rejected in my youth, and I will do my best to live the rest of my life in honor of them. I miss them every day but their beautiful lesson of being true human beings is with me always. Peace to you, the reader of these words, on this day, my birthday, and every day of your life. – David Briscoe