Wednesday, November 2, 2011
The following has been reproduced exactly from the Mumbai Mirror dated 01st November 2011. The author of the blog takes no copyright or responsibility for the material published below:
In a touching eulogy about her late brother at his memorial service on October 16, Mona Simpson told the group of mourners about her life with Steve Jobs. Recounting memories and lessons learnt from her interaction with the pioneer of the personal computer era.
She started the eulogy with her childhood saying “I grew up as an only child, with a single mother. Because we were poor and because I knew my father had emigrated from Syria, I imagined he looked like Omar Sharif.”
“I hoped he would be rich and kind and would come into our lives and help us. Later, after I’d met my father, I tried to believe he’d changed his number and left no forwarding address because he was an idealistic revolutionary, plotting a new world for the Arab people.”
“Even as a feminist, my whole life I’d been waiting for a man to love, who could love me. For decades, I’d thought that man would be my father. When I was 25, I met that man and he was my brother,” she was quoted in New York Times as saying.
At the time she lived in New York, where she was trying to write her first novel.
“I had a job at a small magazine in an office the size of a closet, with three other aspiring writers. When one day a lawyer called me and said his client was my long-lost brother, the young editors went wild.”
“This was 1985 and we worked at a cutting-edge literary magazine, but I’d fallen into the plot of a Dickens novel and really, we all loved those the best. The lawyer refused to tell me my brother’s name and my colleagues started a betting pool.”
“The leading candidate: John Travolta. I secretly hoped for a literary descendant of Henry James – someone more talented than I, someone brilliant without even trying,” Simpson reminisced.
According to the eulogy when Mona Simpson met Steve, she found him to be a guy her age in jeans, Arab-or-Jewish-looking and handsomer than Omar Sharif.
“We took a long walk – something, it happened, that we both liked to do. I don’t remember much of what we said that first day, only that he felt like someone I’d pick to be a friend. He explained that he worked in computers. I didn’t know much about computers. I still worked on a manual Olivetti typewriter,” she said.
She also shared a few things she learned from Steve, during three distinct periods over the 27 years she knew him.
“They’re not periods of years, but of states of being. His full life. His illness. His dying.”
“Novelty was not Steve’s highest value. Beauty was. For an innovator, Steve was remarkably loyal. If he loved a shirt, he’d order 10 or 100 of them. In the Palo Alto house, there are probably enough black cotton turtlenecks for everyone in this church. He didn’t favour trends or gimmicks. He liked people his own age,” she wrote.
His philosophy of aesthetics reminds Simpson of a quote that went like this: “Fashion is what seems beautiful now but looks ugly later; art can be ugly at first but it becomes beautiful later.”
“Steve always aspired to make beautiful later. He was willing to be misunderstood.”
“Steve worked at what he loved. He worked really hard. Every day. That’s incredibly simple, but true. He ws the opposite of absent-minded. He was never embarrassed about working hard, even if the results were failures. If someone as smart as Steve wasn’t ashamed to admit trying, maybe I didn’t have to be,” Simpson recalled.
According to the eulogy, when Jobs got kicked out of Apple, things were painful.
He told his sister about a dinner at which 500 Silicon Valley leaders met the then-sitting president. He hadn’t been invited. He was hurt but he still went to work at Next. Every single day.
She also thought Steve Jobs was like a girl in the amount of time he spent talking about love.
“Love was his supreme virtue, his god of gods. He tracked and worried about the romantic lives of the people working with him,” she said.
She also wrote about the first time Steve Jobs told her about Laurene Powell. “I remember when he phoned the day he met Laurene. “There’s this beautiful woman and she’s really smart and she has this dog and I’m going to marry her.”
According to her eulogy, when Steve’s first child Reed was born, he began gushing and never stopped.
He was apparently a physical dad, with each of his children.
He freted over Lisa’s boyfriends and Erin’s travel and skirt length and Eve’s safety around the horses she adored.
His abiding love for Laurene sustained him. He believed that love happened all the time, everywhere.
In that most important way, he was never ironic, never cynical, never pessimistic.
Steve had been successful at a young age, and he felt that had isolated him. Most of the choices he made from the time she knew him were designed to dissolve the walls around him.
A middle-class boy from Los Altos, he fell in love with a middle-class girl from New Jersey.
It was important to both of them to raise Lisa, Reed, Erin and Eve as grounded, normal children.
Their house didn’t intimidate with art or polish; in fact, for many of the first years she knew Steve and Lo together, dinner was served on the grass, and sometimes consisted of just one vegetable.
Lots of that one vegetable. But one. Broccol. In season. Simply prepared. With just the right, recently snipped, herb.
“Even as a young millionaire, Steve always picked me up at the airport. He’d be standing there in his jeans,” Mona Simpson recounted in New York Times.
When a family member called him at work, his secretary Linetta answered: “Your dad’s in a meeting. Would you like me to interrupt him?”
That is not to say that he didn’t enjoy his success: he enjoyed his success a lot, just minus a few zeroes.
He told me how much he loved going to the Palo Alto bike store and gleefully realizing he could afford to buy the best bike there. And he did.
He had surprises tucked in all his pockets. I’ll venture that Laurene will discover treats – songs he loved, a poem he cut out and put in a drawer – even after 20 years of an exceptionally close marriage.
“With his four children, with his wife, with all of us, Steve had a lot of fun. He treasured happiness.”
When Steve became ill, she watched his life compress into a smaller circle.
Once, he’d loved walking through Paris. He’d discover a small handmade soba shop in Kyoto. He downhill skied gracefully. He cross-country skied clumsily.
But according to Simpson that came to a stop. Eventually, even ordinary pleasures, like a good peach, no longer appealed to him.
“Yet, what amazed me, and what I learned from his illness, was how much was still left after so much had been taken away.”
She also remembers her brother learning to walk again, with a chair. After his liver transplant, once a day he would get up on legs that seemed too thin to bear him, arms pitched to the chair back.
He’d push that chair down the corridor towards the nursing station and then he’d sit down on the chair, rest, turn around and walk back again.
He counted his steps and, each day, pressed a little farther.
“Laurene got down on her knees and looked into his eyes. “You can do this, Steve,” she said.
“His eyes widened. His lips pressed into each other. He tried. He always, always tried, and always with love at the core of that effort. He was an intensely emotional man,” she reminisced in the article in The New York Times.
Simpson realized during that terrifying time that Steve was not enduring the pain for himself.
One time when Steve had contracted a tenacious pneumonia his doctor forbid everything – even ice. We were in a standard ICU unit.
Steve, who generally disliked cutting in line or dropping his own name, confessed that this once, he’d like to be treated a little specially.
She told him: “Steve, this is special treatment.” He leaned over and said: “I want it to be a little more special.”
“Incubated, when he couldn’t talk, he asked for a notepad. He sketched devices to hold an iPad in a shopital bed. And everytime his wife walked into the room, I watched his smile remake itself on his face.”
“For the really big, big things, you have to trust me, he wrote on his sketchpad. He looked up. You have to. By that, he meant that we should disobey the doctors and give him a piece of ice,” she wrote.
None of us knows for certain how long we’ll be here.
On Steve’s better days, even in the last year, he embarked upon projects and elicited promises from his friends at Apple to finish them.
We all – in the end – die in medias res. In the middle of a story. Of many stories.
“I suppose it’s not quite accurate to call the death of someone who lived with cancer for years unexpected , but Steve’s death was unexpected for us.”
“What I learned from my brother’s death was that character is essential: What he was, was how he died.”
“Tuesday morning, he called me to ask me to hurry up to Palo Alto. His tone was affectionate, dear, loving, but like someone whose luggage was already strapped to the vehicle, who was already on the beginning of his journey, even as he was sorry, truly deeply sorry, to be leaving us,” she recounted in the New York Times.
He started his farewell and I stopped him. I said, “Wait. I’m coming. I’m in a taxi to the airport. I’ll be there.”
‘I’m telling you now because I’m afraid you won’t make it on time, honey.”
When she arrived, he and his Laurene were joking together like partners who’d lived and worked together every day of their lives. He looked into his children’s eyes as if he couldn’t unlock his gaze.
Until about 2 in the afternoon, his wife could rouse him, to talk to his friends from Apple.
Then, after awhile, it was clear that he would no longer wake.
His breathing changed. It became severe, deliberate, purposeful. She felt him counting his steps, pushing father than before.
“This is what I learned: he was working at this too. Death didn’t happen to Steve, he achieved it.”
“He told me, when he was saying goodbye and telling me he was sorry, so sorry we wouldn’t be able to be old together as we’d always planned, that he was going to a better place.”
The doctor had given him a 50/50 chance of making it through the night.
He made it through the night, Laurene next to him on the bed sometimes jerked up when there was a londer pause between his breaths. Then he would heave a deep breath and begin again.
This had to be done: Even now, he had a stern, still handsome profile, the profile of an absolutist, a romantic. His breath indicated an arduous journey, some steep path, altitude.
He seemed to be climbing.
But with that will, that work ethic, that strength, there was also sweet Steve’s capacity for wonderment, the artist’s belief in the ideal, the still more beautiful later.
Steve’s final words, hours earlier, were monosyllables, repeated three times.
“Before embarking, he’d looked at his sister Patty, then for a long time at his children, then at his life’s partner, Laurene, and then over their shoulders past them.”
Steve’s final words were:
“OH WOW. OH WOW. OH WOW.”
And like I always believe in and say:
"Heal the world we live in
Save it for our children" - MJ
Debolina Raja Gupta