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Greenville & Hockessin Life

The extraordinary resilience of Joe Biden

Jul 29, 2021 01:06PM ● By Tricia Hoadley
Photos by Moonloop Photography
Text by Richard L. Gaw

My dad always said, ‘Champ, the measure of a man is not how often he is knocked down, but how quickly he gets up.’”

Joseph R, Biden, 46th President of the United States

Over the past 60 years, the stories of Joseph Robinette Biden have become ours, burned into the folklore of Delaware like trusted fables placed on a bookshelf.

We have nearly memorized them all down to the word because they have been uttered so frequently by their author: the places, the experiences, the people, the neighbors, and always – always – the dusting off of life’s most horrible tragedies from a tailored blue suit and a will to carry on that seems to have gathered its strength from the gods.

Are any of us able to summon the strength to confront a severe speech impediment that threatens to tear at our life’s dreams before they have a chance of happening, but there Joe Biden was, reciting Yeats and Emerson over and over in an effort to remove a speech impediment.

For many of us, losing a wife and a young daughter to a car accident would be enough for us to close the doors on our tomorrows, but there Joe Biden was, taking the oath to become a U.S. Senator on Jan. 5, 1973 in a Delaware hospital, while his young sons Beau and Hunter lay on a nearby hospital bed.

Are we as parents able to comprehend the unpardonable sin of outliving our children, but there Joe Biden was at the funeral of his son Beau on June 6, 2015, standing outside of St. Anthony of Padua Church in Wilmington. There, at the front of his family, he held the hand of his late son’s widow Hallie and his granddaughter Natalie with a solemn strength that acknowledged both his unbearable grief and also his refusal to let it take him down and every Biden around him.

The gods that have helped guide Joe Biden throughout his life are the same gods who will readily admit that their servant Joe is not without faults and frailties, but there Joe Biden is, inheriting a nation of similar faults and frailties. Believe in his politics or disagree with them, he remains the same man who stood in front of that mirror as a child. He is the same man who rose from the ashes of two family tragedies, and Joe Biden is the same man who stares off into an unknown future and believes that through the power of resiliency – of calling on the strength to get back up again -- this nation’s best moments are out there in the reachable distance.

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