It was from my adoptee friends on facebook that I learned about the death of Steve Jobs. He was one of them, an adult adoptee.
He was the creator of the tiny device, this computer in my hand, on which I am drafting this post.
We heard recently that his father, Abdulfattah Jandali, reached out to him saying he regretted the adoption. It appears that they never did meet. I, and maybe many other people, concluded from this that Steve Jobs had no relationship with his family of origin. This was not so.
Jobs was born to Joanne Carole Schieble and Abdulfattah Jandali who were not married to each other at the time. His mother was an American of Swiss and German descent and his father was Syrian. She was a graduate student and the first member of her family to attend university.
The two did marry 10 months later and, in 1957, two years after their first child’s birth, they had a daughter who they named Mona.
Joanne Schieble and Jandali divorced in 1962. Joanne remarried and her daughter took her step-father’s name, Simpson.
Mona Simpson grew up to be a novelist. Her first book, “Anywhere But Here” is dedicated to “my mother and my brother, Steve.” She invited Jobs to the book launch in 1987 and met him for the first time. He was 27.
The two forged a relationship. He regularly visited her in Manhattan. From Mona Simpson, Jobs learned more details about their parents. He met his mother and invited her to attend events.
Simpson said “My brother and I are very close, I admire him enormously.”
Jobs said “We’re family. She’s one of my best friends in the world. I call her and talk to her every couple of days.”
Meeting Simpson and learning how similar they were, had a major effect on Jobs. Steve Lohr of the New York Times wrote “The effect of all this on Jobs seems to be a certain sense of calming fatalism — less urgency to control his immediate environment and a greater trust that life’s outcomes are, to a certain degree, wired in the genes.” Prior to this, Jobs had been a firm believer that most of his character had been formed from his experiences, not his family of origin.
We have all had that awakening, those of us who have met the loved ones separated from us by adoption. I used to believe in tabula rasa too until I met my son. He is a lot like me. It helps me to understand.
So we are thinking about Steve Jobs today as we all carry our Apple devices, many of us now using them to communicate with the people we thought we might never meet. We are sad about his passing. In some ways we believe he understood our journeys and the things we carry in our hearts.
And, oh yes, Mona Simpson, she was married to a television writer and producer named Richard Appel in 1993. Appel, a writer for The Simpsons, used his wife’s name for Homer Simpson’s mother,
I think I am going to go and watch Toy Story. A film that the Disney Studios originally rejected until Steve Jobs got involved with Pixar.
“…the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do….”
Written on my iPod touch.