6 October 2011

On Steve Jobs and losing a parent

My first proper computer was a Mac. It was a secondhand Macintosh II which we inherited from a family friend. One day, my younger cousin played with it and from that day on it whenever it was switched on, it loaded in black and white and thought the year was 1969. These days, although I have an iPhone and iPod, I much prefer to use a PC. But this isn't about Macs versus PC's or how great Apple products are, because to be fair, I'm not their biggest fan.

 (click here for the original)

When I read that Steve Jobs had died, my first thoughts weren't for his achievements with Apple or for the technogeek's loss, but for his family. He died at the same age as my dad - 56 - and for anyone that has ever lost a parent, you realise quite how young that is. 

The first realisation is at the funeral. Previously, I'd only ever been to those of aged Great Aunts & Uncles and Grandparents, and while there is a strong family presence, the numbers dwindle over the years and there is a general acknowledgement that they lived to a ripe old age.

When you die young, be that 15 or 56, it's a different matter. Yes, the family is out in force, but so are the friends. So, so many friends. For my father's, we had rows of people standing at the back of the crematorium as there were no seats left and I believe some were forced to listen from outside the venue.  There's a definite sense of someone being snatched away in their prime. It doesn't matter if they were the CEO of a major technology company or a vibrant and personable project manager, the sense of injustice is still there.

The second realisation takes a little longer to sink in. My dad died when I was 23. He had seen me finish school, start university and grow into being an adult. The father/daughter relationship had begun to shift and we weren't just family - we were great friends. We spent many a happy evening cooking meals together, sipping wine and dancing to old records. 

One of the things that saddens me the most is that my father never got to see me beyond that first flush of adulthood. He never saw me get my first "real" job. He never met my now fiancé. He'll never see me get married and maybe even have children. And for me, despite knowing him my whole life, I'll never get to know him now I myself am a fully fledged adult.

I don't know what age Steve Jobs' children are, but I'd hazard a guess that they're not dissimilar in age to myself or my sister. I hope that despite having one of the most high-profile jobs (no pun intended) in the world, he made enough time for them, and they'll be able to look back on their time spend with their father and cherish it. Losing a parent while inevitable is never going to be easy. No one should have to lose theirs at a time when the best years of the parent/child relationship are still to come.

1 comment:

  1. His first child (by a previous partner, that he initially denied paternity of, before accepting) is Lisa Brennan-Jobs, born in 1978. His three kids with Laurene were Reed Paul, born in 1991, Erin, who is now 15, and Eve, who is 13, so I guess what you say applies even more to them.