19th February 2021
A BOOK REVIEW: 10 Lessons that I have learned

I spotted this book at the Text Book Centre a few days after Joe Biden’s swearing in ceremony as the 46 th president of the USA. Having never read any of His Excellency’s books before, I decided to get myself a copy and learn from his life story as well as get a few pointers on his story on dealing with loss and moving on with life, how apt!

The book is written in an easy to read first narrator style with Joe as the first narrator. It has both warm and emotional moments as he captures the fading away of his first born son Beau Biden’s life. We feel the determination that Beau has to live and fight for his life despite the devastating effects of a brain tumour medically known as a glioblastoma. One cannot help but notice the strong family spirit of the Biden family clan that huddles together handholding Beau until the end- in his last few years on earth.

This is particularly touching considering that several decades earlier Joe had lost his wife and infant daughter in a grisly road accident at Christmastime. Perhaps as it is said, “The good Lord can never give us more than we can bear.”

Apart from dealing with loss the book also showcases Joe Biden’s enduring and patriotic nature as he goes on to execute his duties flawlessly despite the emotional turmoil that he is undergoing brought about by his son’s illness. Through this we also catch a glimpse of the different initiatives that he was in charge of as President Barrack Obama’s second in command and a taste of the U.S.A’s foreign policy.

My book review is a snap shot of the top ten lessons that stood out for me from this treasure of a book that I would highly recommend to anyone whose loved one is faced with a life threatening condition, one threatened with imminent loss or one dealing with loss. Because despite all, life must go on.

  • Sometimes what you undergo in life and how you react to it will offer a lifeline or a guide to someone undergoing dire circumstances. You go through lessons in life to be a beacon of hope to other people
    . “I have found over the years that although it brought back my own vivid memories of sad times, my presence almost always brought some solace to some people who have suffered sudden and unexpected loss. Not because I am possessed of any special power, but because my story precedes me.”
  • Despite the pain and sorrow that you have undergone, there will come a time of healing
    . “The time will come when the memory will bring a smile on your lip before it brings a tear to your eyes.”
  • Have a purpose and faith in life – that is what will keep you going through the tough times in life.
  • Have friends who truly have your back. Through thick and thin type of friends.
    President Barrack Obama was not only a boss but a confidante and friend of his deputy Joe Biden. He empathized with his deputy during the tough times. As the hospital bills kept on rising for Beau’s treatment, Joe Biden depicted as a man of humble means in the book considered mortgaging his home, Barrack Obama instead offered him the money asking him to pay it back when he felt most comfortable.
    “Don’t do that”, said Obama. I’ll give you the money. I have it. You can pay me back whenever.
  • Perseverance, resilience, tenacity and courage
    . “It was possible to absorb real loss and make it through.”
  • The truth that hurts is better than a lie that encourages.
    At one point the doctors are too scared to admit to the Biden family that they have reached the tether’s end and that he is on the verge of death. “You have to tell them the truth.” “ He will not recover.”, Howard, Joe Biden’s son –in-law and also a doctor asserts
  • .
  • Grief is very personal, everyone is allowed to grieve and heal in their own special way.
    “There are times each one of us must bear the burden of loss alone, and in his own way.”
    “I needed to be working to keep occupied. For my sanity, I needed to keep busy.”
    “It doesn’t end when the service ends in a sense that’s the beginning.”
  • The simple pleasures of life are to be enjoyed through good and bad times
    . Time and time again in the book we see Joe and his family enjoying beautiful sceneries, sharing a meal together, reading together, praying together “Stop and smell the roses.”
  • Celebrate your loved ones gone
    . “When one of your loved one goes out of your life, you think what he might have done with a few more years. And you wonder what you are going to do with the rest of yours. Then one day because there’s a world to be lived in, you find yourself part of it, trying to accomplish something that he did not have time to. And perhaps that is the reason for all. I hope so. I hope so too,”
  • Family always comes first. Create strong family traditions that strengthen the relationship bond. Joe Biden eventually admits that he will not run for the presidency at that time as he needs to mourn with his family the devastating loss of Beau. In Joes own words, he acknowledges that, “I have a magnificent family!”

At the end of the read one feels like they have made a new friend on first name basis as Joe lets us into his private thoughts with a handful of intimate personal diaries entries made through this challenging time in his life. Care to share what you have read this year? What are some of the learnings that you have gained?