Why Joe Biden’s Thanksgivings Will Never Be The Same

The Biden tradition of celebrating Thanksgiving on Nantucket started in 1975. By 2014, the year after Beau’s brain-cancer diagnosis, the gathering had grown to include our three children—Beau, Hunter, and Ashley—their spouses, and our five grandchildren.

Beau kept to himself our first day in Nantucket. His Secret Service detail had become really good at walling him away. He was easily fatigued and increasingly shy about interacting with people. He was losing feeling in his right hand, and it wasn’t strong enough for a good firm handshake, and he had been wrestling with a condition called aphasia. Radiation and chemotherapy had done some damage to the part of his brain that controlled the ability to name things. He had been going from his home in Wilmington to Philadelphia most days for an hour of physical therapy and occupational therapy and then an hour of speech therapy, all above and beyond his regular chemo treatments.

It was slow going, but he never showed frustration. Nobody in the family, or among his friends, or among his staff at the attorney general’s office, saw him angry or down. It just took a little patience, and a few extra words when he couldn’t recall “mayor”: “You know, that guy who runs the city.” Or “dinner roll”: “Pass the, you know, the brown thing you put the butter on.”

We got up Thanksgiving morning and did our annual Turkey Trot—a 10-mile run (for anybody who felt up to it) to the other side of the island. I rode the route on a bike with some of the grandchildren. We spent part of the day tossing a football around the beach. I showed young Hunter, Beau’s son, the bluffs where his father and his uncle used to jump off and catch passes when they were about his age. Beau and Hallie and their kids made sure to get some nice pictures of the four of them together on the beach. And for our annual family photo we went over to the little saltbox house above the dunes at ‘Sconset Beach that we called “Forever Wild,” after a carved wooden sign on its porch bearing that inscription. Jill and I first saw the house in 1975, when it was for sale. The asking price then had been too rich for a senator’s salary.

Read more at Vanity Fair.