This week the world lost Steve Jobs. Most of social media has sparked like wildfire with folks sharing how he has touched their lives, inspired them and made the world a better place.
And some are questioning how he chose to spend his time. For some reason it is really hitting a chord with me. Mostly likely because the posts I have read are in reference to the time he “chose” to spend away from his children at the office, with a publicist or in some other place and I wonder how folks can know this.
But that’s not really what’s got my knickers in a knot.
I have a dead dad. Yep he died before any of us were ready for him to at 62.
My dad worked long long hours far away from his family at times. He did this because he was raised to believe that as a man he was to provide for his family. And providing meant working and making money. He did not have any role models from his growing up to show him any different way of being a man. There were not any fathers in his line of work putting parenthood before “getting the job done.” My dad did hit the soccer field and baseball field as both coach and cheer leader when time permitted. My dad did kiss each of us goodbye every morning that is was possible before heading out the door to work (even when I was in college).
As time does it marched on and we my father’s children began to form in to our own people. In doing this we stood to provide examples of others ways of being in the world. My father was open to listening, watching and learning. And in doing so his soul got to stretching so that when he met his grandchildren he knew that children were for playing with. That is just what he did with each of his four grandchildren.
When death faced my father I was lucky to be near for his final month of life. We sang in a choir together (his first ever). In the car rides to and from those few practices and performances I got to hear quiet exhales of regrets randomly released from my father’s mind.
“I guess not in this lifetime”
“Maybe next time around”
“If I could I would have”
They were not offered as topics of conversation but as after thoughts spoken in a lower tone then usual.
This is what triggers me when reading “I wanted my kids to know me…I wasn’t always there for them, and I wanted them to know why and to understand what I did.” ~ Steve Jobs
And then seeing people’s response about his “poor kids” or “how sad”. Because this was a comment made by a man starring death in the face. Noticing everything he was not going to get a chance to have, witness or do with his children. And cause I have never stared death in the face I can’t imagine what I might say in the very similar position.
The missing piece to the quote I think is his children may have a very different idea of how their dad was in relationship to them. Me looking in from the outside could never possibly pretend to know.
I can tell you. That when my father regretted working away for long hours, I cherished the kiss on my forehead. I even pretended to be asleep some mornings to make sure he would sneak in and kiss me goodbye. I adored the reflections my father had that lead him to get down on his knees and play with rocks with my son. I have a bank full of memories of my father. Some of them have him fully present, others have him rough around the edges and doing the best he could with the skill set he had.
But at the end of the day my dad is dead. It’s up to me to keep on living and loving him for just exactly who who he was flaws and all. Or spend a lifetime wishing for something I can’t have.
Which leaves me to say “Steve, job well done, flaws and all may you rest in peace.”