Mona Simpson is Steve Jobs' sister, born of the same parents a few years after Steve was adopted into a family. They met for the first time in 1985 when she was 25. She is a novelist and a professor of English at UCLA, and as you can tell from her eulogy, her words endure beyond the ink on the page.
In this article from today's New York Times:
Mona Simpson was raised by her mother and she writes:
(Excerpt, fair use for discussion in an article about Steve Jobs)
"...my whole life Iâ€™d been waiting for a man to love, who could love me. For decades, Iâ€™d thought that man would be my father. When I was 25, I met that man and he was my brother.
By then, I lived in New York, where I was trying to write my 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 â€” me, the middle-class girl from California who hassled the boss to buy us health insurance â€” and said his client was rich and famous and was my long-lost brother, the young editors went wild. This was 1985 and we worked at a cutting-edge literary magazine, but Iâ€™d fallen into the plot of a Dickens novel and really, we all loved those best. The lawyer refused to tell me my brotherâ€™s name and my colleagues started a betting pool. The leading candidate: John Travolta. I secretly hoped for a literary descendant of Henry James â€” someone more talented than I, someone brilliant without even trying.
When I met Steve, he was a guy my age in jeans, Arab- or Jewish-looking and handsomer than Omar Sharif.
We took a long walk â€” something, it happened, that we both liked to do. I donâ€™t remember much of what we said that first day, only that he felt like someone Iâ€™d pick to be a friend. He explained that he worked in computers.
I didnâ€™t know much about computers. I still worked on a manual Olivetti typewriter.
I told Steve Iâ€™d recently considered my first purchase of a computer: something called the Cromemco.
Steve told me it was a good thing Iâ€™d waited. He said he was making something that was going to be insanely beautiful."
Simpson writes about how Steve met his wife Laurene Powell and how he described that first meeting - that he knew he had met his future wife.
His personal life has been private, as it should be, but it is clear from reading Mona Simpson's birds-eye view of Steve's life and death with his wife and four children that he was devoted.
Simpson writes of how Reed would dress up as a witch every Halloween and everybody else in the family would become Wiccan.
Jobs' preference for the aesthetic over the merely technical in computers wafted into other aspects of his life.
He loved art, something that is obvious by looking at how his products have revolutionized not only computers and personal tech, but all of society.
Simpson writes poignantly about the inevitable decline that Steve's illness produced.
We can respect Steve's pain from a distance and how valiant were his efforts to brave the near-daily decline of one's basic faculties and abilities, something we all face eventually.
In reading this euology printed in the New York Times, we see Steve Jobs as his sister and family knew him: A giant in his field, a genius of innovation, a devoted family man, a man who faced his grim reality with hope.
Simpson quotes her brother's final words:
His final words:
"OH WOW. OH WOW. OH WOW."
Steve Jobs, Wikipedia, Creative Commons, Matt Wohe.
Jobs is showing the white iPhone 4 at the 2010 Worldwide Developer's Conference.