My sister’s co-worker and friend Allison has a brother, Scott, and Scott’s friend Jon was a staff member of Joe Biden’s in the Senate. (That’s four degrees of separation, if you’re counting.) (Thanks to Allison for telling this story on FB a couple weeks ago and reminding us of some of the details. I also think Lisa Silberstein was involved from Bear’s posts on the 6th, but I’m not sure how.)
As Bear’s cancer was progressing in 2014, Allison and Scott asked Jon if he could get Joe to send a selfie or something to give her a little boost. It doesn’t sound like Jon was optimistic, but said he’d try.
On March 6, Joe actually called and left a voicemail:
Mary, Mary, Mary, this is Joe Biden, Vice-President Biden. I just called to say hello to you and tell you I’ve kind of been where you are, and you’re an incredible young woman. And also to wish you happy birthday, and I hope if I’m around Chicago on March the 20th I’d come to your birthday, I don’t know whether they’re going to have me…
I’ll try you again but I just wanted to, I hear nothing but wonderful things about you, and you know, you’re going through hell now, and that’s happened to my family too, but guess what; don’t give up hope, don’t give up hope…
I’m going to try you again if that’s OK, and I hope I’m not being presumptuous calling you, but I’m going to try again later. Love you, kid. Keep it up.Joe Biden to Mary Howard, 2014 March 6
Remember that Joe’s son Beau was also in treatment for brain cancer at this time, having been diagnosed in 2013.
True to his word, he called back on the 20th and left another message, only hours after returning from Poland following Russia’s incursion into Ukraine. Bear was unconscious by then but we’re told she could hear, and Joe’s message was played for her:
Mary, happy birthday, this is Vice-President Joe Biden. I told you I’d call you on your birthday kiddo, and I’m thinking a lot about you. I’ll try you again but I just want you to know I’m thinking about you, you’re a wonderful woman. Anyway, happy 30th birthday, child.Joe Biden to Mary Howard, 2014 March 20