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Condolences to Danny Briere

Guest AJgoal

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Lost my Dad a few years ago, miss him everyday. Nothing more painful than the loss of a parent, the people that love you the most in life, that helped shape who you are and what you will become. Condolances Danny....

I'm really sorry to hear that, jammer. I know it's a very tough thing to deal with. Fortunately, the memories are something that *can't* be taken away from you, and I'm sure you have an abundance of great ones.

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@DinahMoeHumm Thanks. You are so correct, the memories will always be there. My Dad was in poor health the last few years of his life, so I moved in with him to take care of him. Those 2 years are were so precious....we got to know each other on a whole new level. What a wonderful man, never ever exchanged a terse word with each other. When he passed, he made me executor, and I was floored to find out he left the condo to me, all paid for, basically set me up for life. Nicest thing anyone has ever done for me. His dying wish was for me to have security and a roof over my head.....just amazing. Although I'm sure my brother and sister were not to thrilled..lol.

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@jammer2: What an incredible thing! But you also did an incredible thing by moving in to be his caretaker. Caring for a person in poor health is no easy task. I watched my mother do it with my grandmother, and my mother-in-law do the same for hers. Now, as my mother-in-law's health is starting to decline, my wife (and me, when applicable) has been doing almost everything for her. You did a very noble thing, and I'm sure your kind deeds played no small part in your Dad wanting to make sure that you were taken care of. And it's awesome that you got to know him on a whole other level. That's something that, from day one, I vowed to do with my kids as, unfortunately, my Dad and I were never able to get very close until much more recently. He was always pretty closed off and never really understood my eccentricities as a creative thinker and musician - even though he's a musician himself.

As sorry as I am that your Dad had to go, it put a smile on my face this morning to read how close the two of you got, and how selfless you were in taking care of him. As for the sibling part, well... my wife has two brothers and two sisters, not all of whom get along much of the time. So, the inheritance discussions could prove very interesting. Fortunately, my mother-in-law just got some very good medical news this past week, so it looks like we'll be putting those talks off for a little while. :)

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@DinahMoeHumm As far as my siblings go, you get what you give in this world. They are basically good people, but didn't acknowledge my Dad much, called for his birthday only when I called them to remind them, which is kinda sad. I looked forward to his birthday, could not wait to buy him a present. Plus, they both borrowed money they did not pay back, that did help their causes. He was a good guy, didn't deserve to be shunned like that, but they got all wrapped up in their own lives and sadly, ignored him for the most part.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Flyers' Danny Briere opens up about mother's death

The Philadelphia Flyers center spent a good chunk of those eight hours calling back friends who had left voicemail messages since his world had been turned upside down, but there also was a lot of time to think, a lot of time to start coming to grips with reality.

So many great memories came pouring in, but they were accompanied by the painful reminder that his mother was gone.

MORE: Flyers coverage from the Courier-Post

Nobody was prepared for this.

His mother was just 63, and she had no apparent health issues.

A proud mother of two and even prouder grandmother of four, Constance Brunet Briere had been so full of life and, as usual, spoiling others. When Danny arrived for a longer-than-usual visit this summer, she cooked up his favorite meal for the first of his many visits, shepherd's pie. And when Danny's three boys later arrived — they're 14, 12 and 11 —she drove lunches to them every day during their two weeks in a summer hockey camp that she insisted on making late in the morning so the sandwiches would remain fresh.

That definitely jarred memories for Briere, who says he used to head to school as a kid armed with the "Mack Daddy of lunches — two loaded sandwiches, chips, fruit, veggies, pickles, olives, cheese … you name it."

Looking back over the last few weeks, which have been some of the toughest days of his life, Briere decided this summer was a blessing.

Briere had done his best to look after his family after his mother passed on Aug. 19, but that time behind the wheel just after the funeral was an opportunity to do some thinking and shed some tears. He was alone for the drive because his children had returned to New Jersey with their mother, Danny's ex-wife Sylvie.

Briere always travels to his roots after hockey seasons to visit family and friends, but this summer's trip was extended beyond the usual few weeks to nearly two months. He got to thinking about making this one longer after realizing his girlfriend wouldn't be around at all this offseason because she's an United States Air Force doctor stationed in Afghanistan until December.

"Sometimes things happen for a reason," Briere said. "You look back and say, it was meant to be. I feel fortunate that I was there for the last two months."

Briere has a home "just a seven-minute drive" from his parents' home, and he spend time with them just about every day during this summer's trip.

"I was leaving on a Sunday and it happened a day before … late Friday night into Saturday," Briere said. "I was out with dinner with my friends, my mother was with my sister and I got a call."

Briere's brother-in-law phoned to tell him that his mother fell seriously ill and had been rushed to a hospital.

Within minutes, Briere was at his mother's side. But when walking into her hospital room, he instantly knew his mother's condition was far worse than he'd realized.

"I could tell my sister was in shock and my dad didn't know what to do," he said.

A waiting doctor spilled the news:

His mother had suffered a deadly brain hemorrhage, and while she was alive in a coma, surviving this would take a miracle.

"The doctor was honest from the get-go: 'This is the deal, she's not going to come back.' That's when you realize you have to try to be a rock … and you're also going through it yourself.'"

Two days later, she was gone.

"A lot of people would tell me all the time how proud she was, but to me she was just my mom," said Briere, a two-time All-Star who has scored 280 goals over 14 NHL seasons, 118 in five seasons as a Flyer. "We had a special relationship. We were close. I was lucky."

Briere has achieved fame and fortune playing hockey, but beyond that many who know him fairly well say that the good man he's become trumps everything he's ever done on ice.

Briere credits mom and dad for who he is.

Talking at length about his mother after a morning workout at Skate Zone the other day, Briere shared some memories.

"I have a condo in Florida … near Lauderdale," he said. "I showed up the week after my parents were there for the first time. I can't tell you how many people would come up and say, 'We love your parents. They're so sweet, so nice.' It's good to hear.

"Everywhere they went, they always made friends. They have a timeshare in Orlando. They made friends there. They made friends in Philly, made friends all over the country, and they would go meet up with them year after year."

Briere has been told he's a chip off the old block.

"You grew up watching your parents," he said. "They're your heroes when you're growing up. They're the people that shape you."

Briere, who turns 35 next month, grew up in Gatineau, a Canadian town in Quebec that is directly across the Ottawa River from downtown Ottawa. At 26 months, he was skating for the first time atop an above-the-ground swimming pool in his backyard, and later that winter, the backyard was turned into an ice rink for the neighborhood children.

"Every day before I got home from school, my mother would hose it down to make it was clean," Briere said. "I was out there from 2 years old until I was 13. She was always doing everything for me."

Danny is the oldest of Robert and Constance Briere's two children, with little sister Guylaiane arrived three years to the day later.

"We had rules to follow," Briere said. "It wasn't a military thing and it wasn't carefree. I think they were very fair.

"It's the same line I try to use with my boys. I think kids don't need a friend; they need a parent."

Mom and dad also were a big help when Briere went through his divorce a few years ago. Every month or so, his parents would move into his Haddonfield, N.J., home for a stretch to help care for his boys, who split time living with both parents.

They just were in again last spring to see Briere once again score a bunch of playoff goals after a disappointing 2011-12 regular season that included 16 goals and 49 points over 70 games because of a concussion and prolonged scoring slump.

Now that his mother is gone, Briere will worry about his father, who is living alone for the first time. At least, there will be help nearby: Danny's sister, an employee for the Canadian government, still lives in Gatineau with her family.

Meantime, Briere is trying to move on with his life. He's ready for another season of hockey. Training camp is scheduled to begin on Sept. 21, but that and the start of the regular season figure to be on hold by then because of a probable lockout on Sept. 15.

When NHL players last were locked out and missed the entire 2004-05 season, Briere played for a team in Switzerland. Returning there this season is a real possibility, he maintains.

Wherever he plays this season, Briere believes his mother will have a front-row seat from heaven.

"One thing I know is she'll be there watching," he said. "There's going to be someone pulling for us somewhere."

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